User Experience For Every Library

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Today, at NJLA, I’ll be presenting on “User Experience for Every Library (Via User Testing)”. This is the result of some conversations about website design I had with other NJLA attendees at the Annual Conference last year in 2018.

User Experience (UX), Usability, Web Usability, User Testing, and so forth are data-driven, user-focused processes and concepts that are core to what I feel is the best way to design, organize and run a website– especially a library website. And in the early 2000s, there were lots of people in the library tech-o-sphere talking about them, at least where I was listening.

But it turns out that the ideas of user testing– and the revolutionary concept that user testing and UX design doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg– didn’t always make it out of the library tech-o-sphere.

And so, as Douglas Adams would say, the problems remained, and lots of the websites were bad, and many of the librarians were frustrated, even the ones with iPods. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake getting on the web in the first place…

When I started talking about cheap, simple user testing methods with my fellow New Jersey library staff, some of them were excited and curious. This suggested an opportunity, and I’m running with it: a 50 minute presentation presentation/workshop explaining 4 kinds of user testing (card sort, paper prototype/paper-and-pencil testing, user observations, and journey mapping), with lots of opportunities (I hope) for brainstorming among the attendees.

I don’t call myself a usability expert (in fact, I heavily defer to the many usability experts out there, including the irrepressible Steve Krug and the eminence grise of usability Jakob Nielsen, but a presentation of this kind doesn’t have to be perfect for people to find something in it they can take home and use: it merely needs to arrive at the proper time. So, here’s to the idea that for some of the people who come to workshop tomorrow, the User Experience/User Testing ideas I’m presenting will arrive at the proper time.

If you’re curious, you can find my handout for the session here:

(also available via tinyurl:

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