Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CIL: Usability and Libraries

CIL: Usability and Libs

User expectatios of online lib services...

  • users' notion of “broken”

  • libs know our online services are imperfect...constant improvement / tweaking

  • in surveys etc users talk about frustration / inconvenicne / confusion

    • sometimes words like “maddening”, horrendus, sucks etc.

  • It either works for them, or not

  • most common complaint....too many choices...or “there must be something wrong with me b/c I can't figure it out”...spend lots of time explaining that we're help to help...

  • peeps don't get stuff=problem...bigger prob than usability...might just not have it...

  • breaks in chain of access not always where you think...response is just to go to google

  • why isn't everything in google anyway...well, we have a good answer for that...but, maybe we should talk to vendors to fix that...maybe that is our job...hmmm....

  • chain of info access from need to retrieval is only as strong as its weakist link

    • remote access, printing services, link resolving are all parts of the chain

    • new interfaces (eg. Handheld devices...smartphone / netbook etc...) become part of the chain of access

  • beyond userfriendly software and reliable hardware...problems go beyond that...

    • users expect easy, direct, immediate access to what they need

    • the have alternatives and low tolerance

  • limited and inconvenient collections are also part of unsability...eg. Microfiche...is it different in TBAy b/c our genealogists are very happy to use microfilm???...or different for genealogists?

  • Siloed e-content is also a usability issue...so our My Giant Search is one solution...I think

  • seamless, simple, fast and reliable systems and servcies are the goal

  • common interfaces, seamless and integrated discovery

  • comprehensive info access...one stop shopping is what the peeps want

  • we need to think about what isn't indexed...why is not digitized

next presenter...Yu-Hui Chen and Carol Ann Germain, Univ at Albany

  • usability...how to ensure a function is used well

  • did a study at their lib...results are local, but hopefully with wide applicability...

  • surveyed 84 ARL libraries...for policies, usability testing and resoruces...env scan

  • hardly anyone has web usability standards, policies and guidelines...wowser, do we need them?!...look to Neilson and co for guidance...also “Research Based Usability Guidelines” book (look it up)...psg=policy, standard, guideline

  • libs all thought usability testing is important, but only about half did regularly...however most have done it

  • what were people testing?...most: Web site; least: opac

  • usability methods:

    • observation

    • thinking aloud

    • card sorting

    • walk-throughs

    • task analysis

    • paper prototype

  • libs with dedicated usability testing staff: 25%...wow

  • are people learning usability in lib schools?

  • Usually done as an “extra” to other jobs

  • issues, challenges and recommendations:

    • reasons why people have difficulty implementig psgs:

      • enforcement/agreement

      • lack of skills/training

      • resoruces

      • getting informed

      • resistance to change

    • not a lot of support from admin ...due to limited knowledge/experience/political agendas

    • lack of resrouces (time, staff, organizational knowledge)

  • published article...with actual survey included

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