Small, focused changes can make a big difference to library website usability

November 4, 2014

A new article published in WEAVE: Journal of Library User Experience suggests that improving a library’s home page need not be difficult or expensive; instead, basic user research can be used to identify relatively minor updates that can nevertheless lead to significant improvements in usability. The article is based on the case of Simmons College in Boston, which took a close look at its content organization as well as the language used on its library website. This research was supplemented with an in-person survey of library users. In this case, the library was unable to contemplate a significant overhaul of the website, which had to conform to institutional branding considerations. Nevertheless, the research allowed the library to make focused changes that significantly improved usability, such as revising the organization of links on the library site as well as eliminating unfamiliar jargon. The changes led to an appreciable difference in the user experience, in spite of the limited resources available. The article advocates user experience research as a means to identify other “quick fixes” that can nevertheless produce tangible positive changes. WEAVE