You may have noticed a new look at UBC Library. This week we unveiled a new homepage, featuring redesigned sections of its site, including the Research Help and Use the Library portals.
The redesign was the result of a lengthy effort from Library Systems and Information Technology (LSIT). Paul Joseph, Systems Librarian, says the project has been underway since he first came to UBC in 2009. “I made it part of my mission to tackle our rather large and complex site through incremental change and improvements rather than a wholesale makeover and redesign. This has allowed us to be experimental, nimble and responsive to not only user needs and expectations, but also our approach to web design.”
In April, LSIT, along with the Library’s Web Services Working Group, opened a Library homepage survey for members of the UBC community (students, faculty, staff, alumni, and those with an affiliation to the University). The survey encouraged feedback on the existing layout and offered opportunities for constructive criticism.
In addition, several one-on-one sessions with faculty, focus groups (including students), and regular user testing offered continuous feedback and improvements for the proposed designs. More than 120 users were consulted and tested and the resulting data directly impacted the design of the homepage. “The best way we can serve our users is to design and develop iteratively in response to their feedback and experiences during testing,” says Joseph.
SLAIS student Jonathan Schatz, who worked on the project over the summer as part of his co-op internship, said a highlight of the usability testing was “watching small changes cascade into largely improved interactions.”
The new site reintroduces drop-down navigational menus, and a highly improved search box, which offers tips for users to help improve their search method. The “breadcrumbs” feature, which offers users a visual trail of where they have been, is being implemented across the entire Library site.
In addition to a site-wide content clean up, the homepage “clutter” has been reduced due to an overwhelming response from users that the old homepage was too crowded. A new “Login” button on the main menu allows users to login quickly and access their Library Account (to renew books online, check document delivery and more), EZproxy or Refworks.
“The homepage reflects the outcome of a process involving widespread user consultation, feedback collection, data analysis, and usability testing,” says Joseph. It also offers a value proposition, or a statement used to describe the site’s purpose. “Our statement ‘Find the best [source] for your research’ functions as a great enticement for first-time users of the Library’s site, and a reminder for return visitors of the value UBC Library brings to its users.”
Check out some of the comments and reactions to the new design on social media.
Now that the new site has launched, LSIT is busy updating other sections of the site, including the About Us and Contact Us sections. Joseph says there are many more great things to come as the Library works to “constantly improve our web services.”
In the meantime, we value your input. Please provide your comments via the “Feedback” button on the homepage.