Steven Bell describes his vision of the "Library Web Site of the Future" in today's Inside HigherEd. It will sound familiar to anyone who's read the other posts of his about which I've posted, but I find it interesting that this appears in a more main-stream academic publication (if that's not an oxymoron). His conclusion:
Put simply, the library portal as we know it today is unsustainable.
It, along with a host of other indicators such as declines in reference
questions and shifts from print to e-resources, signals that for
academic libraries a “let’s just keep doing business as usual”
mentality is a sure path to obsolescence. If academic librarians fail
to grasp the urgency of needed changes to their portals it is quite
possible we will read in a future article something along the lines of
“Academic librarians thought they were in the information gateway
business, but they were really in the learning and scholarly
productivity business. They just didn’t recognize it.”
"The Webometrics rankings score each university on four criteria,
including the number of links to the institution’s Web site from other
sites. These “inlinks” are ostensibly a good way of evaluating a site’s
general impact on the Web community."
This redesign is interesting on several levels, to me. As stated on the blog post announcing the new pages, the aim is "to simplify access to information about the libraries. Our goal was to
emphasize our combined virtual services and resources while still
providing information about our unique physical locations."
Also, you will notice on the page the focus on the Engineering & Science Libraries (they act as one administrative unit), which makes it hard to find information or a link to the main MIT Libraries web page (which retains its previous design), or information about the other three "main" libraries. It seems to be a reflection of a concept of profiling users that has been talked about for a while, although this is the first instance where I've seen it put into practice (others?).
The latest ACRL publication, Design Talk:
Understanding the Roles of Usability Practitioners, Web Designers, and Web
Developers in User-Centered Web Design, is now available. Written by Brenda
Reeb, coordinator of the Web usability program at the University of Rochester
Libraries, Design Talk focuses on the interactions between the various
roles in Web site development, differentiating the scope of responsibilities
and activities of usability practitioners, designers, and developers. The book
sheds light on the benefits of understanding the differences between these
roles and how they work together to create user-friendly Web sites. Reeb’s workpresents an alternative to Web design by committee and is suitable for
those with a vested interest in Web content, including reference librarians,
usability practitioners and Web design professionals. Library
administrators who want to create clearer lines of authority among staff who
participate in the Web design process will also find the book useful.
Stephen Asunka, Hui Soo Chaea, and Gary Natrielloa
Transaction logs of user activity on an
academic library website were analyzed to determine general usage
patterns on the website. This paper reports on insights gained from the
analysis, and identifies and discusses issues relating to content
access, interface design and general functionality of the website.
In summer 2008, a small group of Santa Clara University librarians were
charged with exploring ways of making online library research guides
more user friendly and interactive. In order to know how to enhance our
guides, we first asked the question, "What makes a research guide
useful?" What follows is a detailed process of discovery. The process
started with literature on guides, which suggests that research guides,
particularly general subject guides, are not well used. Examining
statistics for science guides supports the contention that
course-specific guides are the most well used. Interviews with students
told what they look for in guides. Finally, research on platforms
revealed choices for nimble creation of research guides.