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ERIC Number: EJ891787
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 30
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1932-2909
User-Centered Design in Practice: The Brown University Experience
Bordac, Sarah; Rainwater, Jean
Journal of Web Librarianship, v2 n2-3 p109-138 2008
This article presents a case study in user-centered design that explores the needs and preferences of undergraduate users. An analysis of LibQual+ and other user surveys, interviews with public service staff, and a formal American with Disabilities Act accessibility review served as the basis for planning a redesign of the Brown University Library's Web site. Three testing phases were conducted: individual usability testing of the existing site and baseline data collection on Web use preferences; focus groups to respond to a functional prototype and search prototypes; and individual usability testing and interviews on revised functional prototypes. The delicate task of obtaining staff buy-in without letting their opinion drive the redesign was accomplished by keeping the project team small and nonrepresentational, submitting all conflicts to user testing, and promising an intranet that would meet the specialized needs of staff. A commitment to experimentation and a willingness to jettison design and functional elements which did not meet user approval kept the design process agile and flexible. Prototype testing of a variety of search options clearly demonstrated that the lack of integration in a library's information system makes it difficult to rationalize and optimize the user's search experience. Difficulties enlisting staff to edit existing Web content were solved by outsourcing content review and editing for Web-appropriate length and format. Except for this content review, the Web site redesign and usability testing were all conducted in-house with limited resources and a nine-month time-frame. The study's focus on user expectations and nomenclature largely confirmed the results of previous studies. (Contains 8 figures and 25 notes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Rhode Island
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A