LIDA Workbookl

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LIDA Workbookl



    MAY 24 2004



    Website Design and




    Lida 2004 Website Design and Evaluation


    Room 100- Main Library -MC-522

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, USA, 61801

    Phone 001.217.333.2305• Fax 001.217.333.2214


    Table of ContentsCHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 6

    Introduction Why Bother 1 Usability Testing 15 CHAPTER 2 CHAPTER 7

    Getting Started for the Design 4 Making your Design Accessible 19


    The Card Sort Technique 7 Website Assessment 21 CHAPTER 4 BIBLIOGRAPHY Site Architecture 10 Bibliography 24

CHAPTER 5 NOTES Focus Groups 12


    Introduction: Why bother?

    “A library is a growing organism.” – S.R. Ranganathan’s Fifth

    Law of Librarianship

    "Use technology intelligently to enhance service.” – Gorman’s Third

    Law of Modern Librarianship

    hy do we worry about designing websites with the user in mind? W

    Traditionally, librarians have set about the task of organizing information for their own purposes, rather than the purpose of the user. Until the advent of the electronic age, we were the keepers of the keys as well as the creators of the locks. In teaching students about the intricacies of the organization of knowledge, one can use an analogy to the legend of Ariadne. Her father, King Minos, created the great labyrinth and placed the ferocious Minotaur within it. When Theseus was tasked with the destruction of the fabled beast, Ariadne provided him with the string that enabled him to find his way back out of the maze. If we compare this story to the modern electronic library, an electrified Ariadne stands at the entrance to the maze and, in place of string, provides the information seeker with the fiber optic cable and the routers necessary to reach the information goal and return with something useful.

    What are the reasons for designing websites with the user in mind? Several very good reasons might be:

     To provide more seamless access to the resources of a library.

     To take advantage of the most current technology in the field.

     To serve as a public relations tool for the institution.


    There are many more, but these seem to be the most common ideas behind website design.

    Thirty years ago some people were already developing theories concerning how advances in information technology might provide opportunities to inform users in new and different ways. The first versions of the human-computer interface were text driven and targeted at the expert scholar. The development of the graphical interface made it possible for the inexperienced user to seek out information in ways the pioneers of the Internet had only hoped for. Although we are not perfect in all of our assumptions, many opportunities exist today that allow us to develop the human-computer interface to the advantage of the user. In designing our new web pages we can pull from many theoretical areas Human-Computer Interface theory, subject

    analysis, user interface design and website usability models. In order to reach our users we employ card sorting techniques, focus groups, usability testing and user surveys as well as transaction log analysis. In creating our site we have to keep in mind the skills, interests, and abilities of our users. A well organized, visually interesting, and useful site is our goal. To achieve this goal we must keep all of these factors in mind.

    In the chapters that follow we will explore the experiences necessary for the development of a website targeted at meeting your users’ needs. These processes have

    proven to be the most efficient and cost-effective ways to design for your users. In the first chapter, we will look at the development of a team, a rationale, and a strategy for creating your pages, or re-creating pages that already exist. Next we will explore the concepts of the card sort technique and provide some hands-on experience in the process. The following chapter discusses the possible site structure. Once we know the information we want presented on the site it is time to begin the creative process. Issues to consider in this phase include a comprehensive analysis of needs for both the site architecture and the user, and the creation of mockup sites to provide a framework from which to work. Focus groups in the development of web pages are discussed in chapter four. We will look at the requirements for adequate feedback from the user community as another way in which the users can be brought into the process of site creation. Once a template exists for the information we wish to present, the practice of usability testing will be addressed. How is this accomplished? Who should be involved? How are usability tasks defined? A template for usability testing is also provided. Next we will discuss the topic of accessible design. Two issues involved in this discussion are hardware compatibility and designing for users with disabilities. Finally, a website should be a dynamic tool, and as such it needs to be explored and re-worked on a regular basis to take advantage of technological advances, and user desires. The tools that are available for evaluating your site in an ongoing manner will be discussed and some suggestions for future projects will be described.

    The workbook is structured to provide you with some basic information and some of the tools you might need to accomplish your goals. Feel free to reformat the



    forms that accompany various chapters of this workbook for your own project. A comprehensive bibliography can be found at the end of the work. A CD-ROM with copies of our PowerPoint presentation and a variety of forms and exercises is also included. In the future, if you have any questions about the material, please don’t hesitate to contact the authors.




    Getting started on the


    efore we touch the computer keyboard it is necessary to think about how our B

    pages will be used. Several questions need to be answered. These questions are listed below. Take a few minutes to consider the questions and write down your thoughts.

    ; Why are you creating or re-creating this site?

    ; If you are working on the re-design of a site, what problems have you

    encountered with it in the past? How do your users feel about the site?

    ; What is the purpose of the site? Is it providing access to a special collection or

    an entire library?

    ; Will the pages be viewed by expert users or an inexperienced public with

    varying abilities? What tasks will they want to accomplish on your site?



    ; What kind of equipment is your public using to access your site?

    ; What resources do you have in the way of people, time and money to support

    the development?

    Once you have answered these questions, you will have a much better idea of the target you seek to hit.

    Designing Your Team

    One of the most important factors in this type of work is the development of a team. True, many individuals have the skills, resources, and talent to create very effective websites on their own. The advantage of a team approach is that it can pull the best talent into the operation and provide a larger base of support for the project. A three-member team is a common and very efficient configuration. One individual, as the team leader, marshals the resources that are necessary for success. This person finds the funding and works with administrative units and users. He or she can also serve as the general coordinator of the group, taking the lead in setting goals and channeling resources. A second member of the group should be an individual with particular technology skills. Thanks to the ease by which web pages are developed through a variety of web-authoring tools, this person does not need to be a research programmer, but someone who is willing and able to figure out the intricacies of PERL or Java or ASP. It would also be helpful to have one individual who maintains a relationship with the user group as member of the team. This might be a reference librarian, or a circulation clerk, or someone in a particularly public position who is aware of the problems faced by users of the current system. If it is necessary, more members can be added to the working group, such as a graphic designer, but keep the team a manageable size of no more than five. It is rarely useful to have more than five members if only because scheduling meetings for more than five individuals can be difficult. When you are implementing some of the other steps suggested, it may be



    necessary to pull in additional help. The actual planning and implementation group should, however, remain small.

    Resource Assessment

    After your team has been created, take some time to do a complete resource assessment. You will need funds for materials such as paper for card sorting, rooms to work with focus groups and for usability testing, access to computers and projectors for these processes, recording equipment, incentives for participants, possible software upgrades, and, perhaps most importantly, time. It is easy to forget to factor in the hours it will take to complete a site upgrade. Some sites can be reconstructed for as little as a few hundred euros, while others can cost many thousands.

    Decide upon the schedule for the process working backward from the date you wish to have the project completed, but be flexible. There is usually some slippage due to factors outside of your control. Remember that the project is never really finished. You will receive feedback from your users. Their suggestions need to be taken into consideration. Technology will change. Resources will change. Your users are the one constant to focus upon.

    Speaking of Users

    There has always been some controversy concerning the participation of the user group in the development of library websites. The argument against letting the user in revolves around professionalism and expertise. It is maintained that since the librarian is the organizer of information, he or she is the authority and should decide the manner by which the body of information should be parsed out to the user. This may have been an appropriate view prior to the advent of the Google search engine, but is not entirely valid at this time. We can fight the ease with which our users access information on the Internet, but most would agree this is a futile effort. The university student’s behavior is not much different from that of the public library patron. Both

    user groups want to access the information they need with as little effort as possible. Don’t we all?

    The same individuals who argue against user participation in the design process frequently fear that there will be too many opinions expressed, and in an effort to accommodate all of these wishes, the site will be unorganized and inefficient. This is where our professionalism does come into play. Users are not dictating the content and structure of our sites, they are advising us. We have to be sensitive to where the bar is set, and not prejudge the results of our inquiries.




    The Card Sort Technique

    he card sort technique is very useful for determining your options and defining T

    your resources. It has been used extensively as means of organizing information in the electronic environment. This is the first real opportunity the user of the page may have to provide input for the design. Faiks and Hyland indicate, “Card sorting works well in the early stages [of web design] because it gives users an opportunity to create a proposed organization as opposed to reacting to one already in place.”(2000) The results of this technique are often surprising and occasionally very refreshing.

    The purpose of the card sort technique is to discover the mental model of organization best-suited to the user. Librarians, computer scientists, doctors, and lawyers have certain mind-sets, or ways of thinking about the world around them. Sometimes we forget we are trained to think in this particular way, but our clients are not usually inculcated with this same mental framework. The card sort technique is extremely useful in setting a baseline of user understanding for the structure of your page.

    Card sorting is the first opportunity you will have to understand the way in which your users minds work. Pay careful attention to what they are telling you. Do not go into the process with any set parameters for the number of headings preferred, or the types of resources you will have on your opening page. This mistake was made at an earlier time by one of the larger universities in the United States. Librarians determined that they did not want the number of entry points on their new website to exceed ten. After using the card sorting technique, it was discovered that users wanted about twice that number. Unfortunately, the librarians did not use all of the information provided to them by users. The result was a large number of dissatisfied


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