“From Data to Design: Integrating Library Assessment and User Experience” at James Madison University

Presentations from our February 10, 2012 workshop at JMU:

Data Collection and Beyond – Jim Self

User Studies in the Library – Erin Mayhood

Elements of User Experience Design – Joseph Gilbert


Library Site Design: Wireframes

Our design principles for the Library site restructuring left us with a lot of tricky design issues to tackle, and we also needed to make sure we were addressing organizational stakeholder needs in addition to our researched user needs.  Reviewing the ways that other websites approach similar problems proved informative (such as those in eduStyle’s Noteworthy Sites list), though most other library sites contained the same complex, tabbed search boxes, obscure navigational labeling, and physical location focus that we hoped to avoid.  After many conversations with Erin, reviewing organizational needs based on Erin’s interviews, considering our user personae, and studying our analytics data, I produced the following wireframes and presented them to our stakeholder community (Nov. 16, 2011). Continue reading

The User-centered Library Web Site

After this summer’s successful integration of article content in our library catalog, Erin and I began working with our Library Communications department to re-think our Library’s main web site.  We knew that the sheer number of pages had gotten out of hand, and with new analytics data and a history of user assessment in hand, we were ready to establish the design principles that would guide our work.

Re-envisioning the Catalog: Wireframes & Design

After establishing design principles based on good assessment data, I typically turn to some quick pen-and-paper sketching to wrap my mind around design problems and areas of potential confusion.  These sketches are quick, low-fidelity, and really only meant to inform small-group conversations with those closest to the project.  Depending on the task at hand, I will sketch full pages, discrete interactions (such as a specific form element), or a narrative storyboard to visualize a potential user path.

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Re-envisioning the Catalog: Establishing Design Principles

After Erin has performed initial assessment activities, my first design task isn’t to jump right into HTML & CSS or select a color palette or even sketch with pen & paper.  My starting point is instead the creation of short, pithy, abstract Design Principles that summarize key lessons learned from our pre-design assessment and will serve as a framework for the entire design phase.

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So, What’s a User Experience Developer?

As Erin mentioned in her last post, I serve as the U.Va. Library’s User Experience Web Developer. But what exactly is a UX developer and how is the role different from a web designer, front-end developer, or generalist programmer?

Perhaps foremost, a User Experience Developer allows assessment to lead design. When we set out to create a new tool or feature, we don’t start with sketches or Photoshop documents or the like, but with surveys, focus groups, and user testing.

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