USABILITY

This site is intended for Hollis Social Library patrons but is currently designed for younger patrons who are either digital natives or those who have experience navigating various types of websites, browsing and clicking through trial and error in order to find what they are looking for. Steve Krug calls this method of finding, “forging ahead and muddling through”— “once we find something that works—no matter how badly—we tend not to look for a better way.” (Krug, 2014).


There lies a schism between the site’s design and usability, and the typical user. The library’s main patron-base, 65+ seniors who are not very tech savvy, may get confused and lost within the Hollis Library site, and may be more likely to give up. Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, asks, “who is at fault, [the user] or the [website]?” People often blame themselves for not being able to use an everyday product or website easily, when it is often the product or website design at fault, not the user. With small tweaks, this site would be a lot easier to navigate, and would prove less intimidating to older users, which would potentially alleviate the daily phone call inquiries and requests at the library.

Design plan: The overall look is consistent from page to page, with the exception of the Events and OPAC pages, with clear graphics/color scheme throughout. The top and left-hand navigation systems remain consistent with some exceptions (wonky right-hand navigation systems that differ from page to page). Many of the site’s pages should be combined, simplified, and reorganized/re-ordered. For example, the “Contact” page, which just goes to a map and a form for contacting the library, and then the “Staff Directory” page. These should be combined.

As uncovered in the card sorting exercises, under “Services” in the top nav, there is a “Technology” option in the drop-down. This is confusing wording because it means one-on-one help for technology. It should read, “Technology Help” or “Tech Assistance.” Also, under “About,” “Library Policies” and “Item Loan Policies” should be combined and added to the footer. The mission should go on the About Us page that is currently full of dummy text.

As mentioned, the “Events” from the top nav takes the user outside of the domain and into a LibCal page. The whole page design changes and the link opens a new tab, which is confusing. The OPAC also opens into a new browser and a different domain, yet both of these pages (events and the OPAC) are integral to the library’s website.

Language/vocabulary: In general, the language used is simple. The focus here should be on relabeling pages and page headings/links to make more sense.


Goals: The goals of the website are fairly obvious (Catalog, About, Hours, Offerings, Events, etc.), but would be better without all of the extra pages and links hanging around in the navigation.


Navigation: We summarized most of the navigation issues in the design plan area, but there are remaining issues. When a user double-clicks on “Kids/Teens” it takes them to a blank page. It’s as if they are relying on the user to hover over the navigation for the sub-navigation, and not click into the page. Also confusing is the “Services” section, which seems to combine many offerings from the “Resources” page.

Another set of issues we noticed is that on each page, there are right-hand navigation “Quick links” or “Browse” for access to other pages. However, this navigation is different from page to page and the categories and collection of links doesn’t seem to make sense. The different navigations also change colors/design particularly between the “Services” page and all of the other pages, which seems confusing.

 
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