Mixed-Method Survey Research is Useful to Incrementally Improve Library Homepage Design
Keywords:website design, academic librarianship,
AbstractA Review of:
Deschenes, A. (2014). Improving the library homepage through user research – without a total redesign. Weave, 1(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/weave.12535642.0001.102
Objective – To assess content organization and wording of links on the library’s homepage.
Design – Mixed-methods survey.
Setting – Small college, United States of America.
Subjects – 57 library users.
Methods – Library staff distributed paper surveys at the entrance to the library, with the goal of collecting a minimum of 30 surveys. The survey directed participants to indicate their preferred terms from a list, and their preference for ordering the menu items on the library’s homepage. Qualitative survey data was also collected via several open-ended questions that began with prompts such as “I really love…” and “I can never find…”
Main Results – The search box tab labelled “Library Catalogue” was preferred over “Books and Media,” which the staff believed to be a more user-friendly term. Using a pre-defined list, participants ranked the Library Catalogue as the most important tab, followed by E-Resources, Articles, and Library Guides. A link to the Library Catalogue was also selected as the most important resource sidebar link, followed by E-Resources, Full-Text Journals, Library Guides, and Refworks. The service sidebar links by order of importance were found to be: Library Hours, Group Study Rooms, Writing & Citing, Interlibrary Loan, and Chat with a Librarian. Qualitative feedback received demonstrated a lack of understanding what the terms “Library Guides” and “A-Z List” mean, and difficulty finding a complete list of databases. Library staff received feedback that the Library Hours and Account Log In should be made more prominent.
Conclusion – Library staff updated the website to reflect user preferences for wording and order of links on the homepage. Google Analytics showed a decrease of 30 seconds per average visit after the changes, which the author attributes to better wording and organization. There were no complaints about the website in the first three months after the change. The author concludes that a paper survey is an effective tool for librarians who would like to make incremental changes on their homepages.
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