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Launching a Redesign of your Library’s Web site? What do your users want?

October 15, 2007

Launching a Redesign of your Library’s Web site? What do your users want?
Bonnie Oldham, U of Scranton, Tina Hertel, Lehigh University

Part 1, Bonnie Oldham
Library Dean Charles Kratz had suggested getting input from users; got internal grant money and IRB approval for their focus groups.

Target groups
-grad students
-traditional undergrads
-works study students
-distance learners
-students with disabilities

Very labor intensive — 900 letters, over 300 emails, about 26 users
Moderators: grad students in the School Counseling Program; focus groups held in library
Librarian had online interview with distance learners and students with disabilities

Results were audio-taped and transcribed by moderators

Key Themes:
1 – Ease of use
2 – Home page style issues
3 – User name and password
4 – Database access page

Followed up focus groups with Web usability testing. Observed participants completing a set of tasks using the Library’s Web site; used Camtasia Studio screen recorder. Was an amazing experience; many could not find the article to which they had a citation.

Redesign process
-librarians reviewed all input and then examined other Library Web sites to compile a list of desirable features
-committee met with official University PR committee
-when had a draft of page designed by professional designer, went back to users and surveyed about new page

First version; they liked fact that all the important links were on left side. Left some white space for important notices to users, e. g., a database down for maintenance.

Important feature was implementing single sign on for users; eliminated need to have remote user links. About six months after implementing page, got a tab on University portal page. Had just the links that were needed, not the bells and whistles.

Actual timeline was almost 2 years for new page to go live.

Part II, Tina Hertel
Accessible Web Design

Tina mentioned that students with disabilities are often not kept in mind when Web page is designed. She referred users to her handout with summaries of the law.

Ten Quick Tips from the Web Accessibility Initiative
1- Images & animation — Some folks do use text-only, turning off images. Make sure content is still available to them. Important to consider context, to make sure that context that picture conveys is not lost to this user. Can turn feature on in Dreamweaver to add ‘alt’ tag to provide more info. Tag does convey info to user what the image is, that is, a link or image. Always have an alt attribute when there is an image. Use an empty alt attribute if the image doesn’t contribute anything (like a spacer line); then screen reader won’t read it. But if you don’t have an alt attribute, and the screen reader will say there is an unknown image.

2 – Image maps – always use client-side image maps, NOT server-side image maps. If you’re scripting, that is server-side.

3- Multimedia

4 – Navigation – make sure Web page is keyboard accessible; tab key allows users to jump from link to link; enter key allows users to ‘click on a link’; mouse only options limit users. Drop-down images are problematic if you use Java script, be sure to use ‘on focus’ option. Annoying things for users are text like: click here, more, link, link to, go here, more — doesn’t give any info on where the link is going; provide context. Appearance: underline and color are standard conventions.

5 – Structure, content, organization – try to keep content separate from structure. CSS helps with this. It’s OK to use tables with screen readers; they’ve gotten smarter. Dreamweaver can distinguish if for layout or content purposes.

6- Graphs & charts – in alt attributes, convey what kind of info chart contains.

7 – Scripts, applets & plug-ins

8 – Frames – bad. Don’t use them. If you do use them, use appropriate titles, have no frames option, have alternate navigation options. Cascading Style Sheets take care of this.

9 – Tables – can use them. For complex tables, there are newer accessibility codes.

10 – Check your work and validate it. Bobby has been bought out; now called WebXACT. Plug in URL and check accessibility of page. Free online version will evaluate one page at a time.

Tina’s favorite pages for accessibility (from her handout) are Web Accessibility in Mind and Dive Into Accessibility.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 18, 2007 2:07 am

    The redesign had all the important links in the middle of the page, not on the side.

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