Our Design Principles

Goals and Definitions 

  • Goal: To create a more effective, efficient, engaging site that is consistent, easy to learn to use, enjoyable to use, and affords tolerance for errors when errors are made. 
  • Three kinds of design: Visual Design, Interaction Design, and Information Architecture.
  • LibraryWeb is an official university and libraries' publication. Its design, navigation, and content should be treated as such.  
  • Usability principles and user-centered design concepts will be applied throughout the redesign process. Usability means "making sure something works well and that a person of average ability of experience can use it for its intended purpose without getting hopelessly frustrated." (From "Don't Make Me Think")
    Put another way, usability is how well users can learn and use a site to achieve their goals and how satisfied they are with that process.
  • The Redesign will meet Section 508 criteria for basic accessibility requirements.

Specific design goals

  • design our site and navigation to be touch-screen friendly
  • design for fluid/responsive screen size
  • simplify navigation
  • use persistent and consistent navigation categories
  • limit jargon and define it (possibly using mouse-over text or another means) when it must be employed to convey concepts or label information
  • group "like" content together
  • make search and access front and center (top task) 
  • highlight the tasks our users most want to accomplish: hours, maps (stacks and libraries), library account/renewals, connecting to databases, searching for information (articles, e-books, e-resources, e-journals, books, print journals), using Request It services (ILL, Borrow Direct, Document Delivery), and finding a specific library's site
  • we know that finding hours and locations, and searching for resources are consistently the main goals our users have when they access our site, and we are making those tasks easier to accomplish
  • structure our design and navigation so we can respond to usability testing and feedback effectively and easily

Redesign Principles

  • The redesign is to make the site more usable for our patrons/users. Faculty, undergraduate students, graduate students, and researchers are the focus of this redesign. Defining our user groups and weighing their relative importance in the overall process has been key. We have focused on researchers in this design process, rather than on internal libraries staff, though their perspective has been considered and included.
  • Iterative and agile visual design and interaction design.
  • Intuitive and expandable Information Architecture.  
  • Arrange our site elements and design to optimize user interactions with our information and to optimize users' ability to accomplish what they need to accomplish.
  • Make design choices based on qualitative and quantitative assessment findings (both those conducted here and those conducted elsewhere that are relevant in our context) not based on what "we" think organizationally.
  • Harmonize our design with Columbia University's website guidelines.
  • Save the time of the user.
  • Reduce our users' learning curve.
  • Optimize our user's interactions with the site based on the major tasks they come to the site to perform (we know the top tasks from years of assessment and statistical data).
  • Implement simple, persistent, and consistent navigation.
  • Understand and work to exceed user's expectations.
  • Contextualize the user's experience consistently no matter where the user enters the site (e.g., if a user finds a page via a Google search, he or she should not be lost once they've opened that page).
  • Employ an iterative design process that incorporates prototypes and user testing.
  • Ensure that feedback mechanisms are provided to users and that there is a consistent responsiveness when feedback is solicited and received. 

To design successfully

  • We will continue to identify our users' goals and the main functionality that they need, and develop the site to allow them to easily accomplish those things.
  • Make the site easy to learn and enjoyable to use.
  • Remain consistent.
  • Dialog with users and respond to their needs/input. Use labels they understand, solicit feedback, conduct usability tests, and provide feedback for their actions (if they submit a form, acknowledge that…).
  • Test! Be Problem Free! Test for bugs and issues and brokenness in beta releases, and fix them!
  • Keep staff and others informed and updated about what we're doing.

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