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Web > User Experience Group

User Experience Group

User Experience Group

This group’s main project is redesigning the home page with an eye to a later site redesign. This project plan was approved by the Web Committee on 3 June 2008 and presented to the Library Forum on 10 June 2008.

The UEG is: Haiyun Cao, Sarah Coysh (co-chair), William Denton (co-chair), John Dupuis, Ricardo Laskaris, Daniel Perlin, Deena Yanofsky. Former members: Sophie Bury, Julia Holland, Stacey Mechefske.

The group will meet biweekly on Thursdays, usually following the Information Literacy Committee meetings:

  • Thu 14 Aug, 12 – 1 (210 Scott)
  • Thu 18 Sep, 12 – 1 (210 Scott)
  • Thu 02 Oct, 12 – 1 (at Frost Library)
  • Thu 16 Oct, 12 – 1 (210 Scott)
  • Thu 30 Oct, 12 – 1 (210 Scott)
  • Thu 13 Nov, 12 – 1 (210 Scott)
  • Thu 27 Nov, 12 – 1 (Bronfman training room, S236)
  • Thu 04 Dec, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Thu 18 Dec, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Thu 08 Jan, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Thu 22 Jan, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Tue 03 Feb, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Thu 19 Feb, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Tue 03 Mar, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Thu 02 Apr, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Special: Wed 15 Apr, 10 – 12:30 (Frost)
  • Special: Fri 17 Apr, 10 – 12:30 (SMIL Screening Room)
  • Thu 30 Apr, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Special: Thu 14 May, 11:30 – 1 (Bronfman S236) Open home page prototype review and discussion
  • Thu 28 May, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236) (cancelled)
  • Thu 11 Jun, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Thu 25 Jun, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236)
  • Thu 9 Jul, 12 – 1 (Bronfman S236): informal meeting
  • Special: Thu 23 Jul, 12 – 1:30 (Bronfman S236): open session on home page


  • A home page that is effective, efficient, usable, intuitive, and likable.
  • A home page that meets our plans and guidelines for our web presence.
  • A home page that is user-centred and actively involves users in the design process.
  • A home page that meets web standards (both generally established and local to York).


After a literature review on web page redesign, we decided to follow a user-centred design process similar to Western Washington University (WWU). It has four parts, but the body of the project is the first three:

  1. User research
  2. Design and development
  3. Implementation
  4. Evaluation
  5. Maintenance

The important steps in the process will be blogged on Library News, and we will use the posts as one way of getting ideas and comments from users. We will keep library staff and librarians informed throughout the process by e-mail and meetings as necessary. The group will produce a final report when the project is complete.

The work will be divided among three groups: user research, usability testing, and design. Each group will have two or three people in it, so we will need to find people to help.

We would like to bring in a guest speaker, an expert on usability design, to discuss the process and help the User Experience Group: Jerilyn Veldof of University of Minnesota Libraries.

Background Reading

Background reading collects useful web sites, reports, guidelines, and other things that will help us with our work.

1. User research (August – )

People: Deena, Sophie, Stacey, Daniel

The important question we want to answer is: What are the users’ goals?

  • What do they need to do on our site?
  • What do they need to do on our home page?
  • What tasks are they trying to accomplish?
  • Are there any accessibility issues with the current web site?

Based on usability design methods we have divided the web site users into two groups: primary users (undergraduates, graduates, and faculty and staff) and secondary users (alumni, and the public). The primary users will be our focus, but a good home page will work well for everyone.

We will begin by collecting data on our primary and secondary users. We will use a variety of methods, including surveys and questionnaires, existing data, and librarian expertise.

Student survey

Ran a Facebook ad.

Faculty survey

Announcements: E Watson, Schulich; S Bury, Atkinson School of Administrative Studies; C Bova, CST News; A Taves: Psychology and DLLL; D Perlin to Osgoode faculty; J Dupuis to FSE list contact; S Bury/D Yanofsky announcement in YFile on 14 Nov 2008

Internal survey

This is for YUL employees. Based in part on the WWU internal survey.

Other data

Based on the information gathered in the surveys, questionnaires, existing data, we will design several personas. Personas help to simplify design decisions. These personas would represent the archetypal undergraduate, graduate student, and professor. (July)

2. Design and development

2.1. Test the usability of the current home page

This will give us a baseline as to the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of users.

  • Design test.
  • Test the home page on small groups (5-8 people) of each of the three kinds of primary users. (August)
  • Measure how well it works. We will use the results of this testing as a benchmark against which we will test the revised home page.

Initial drafts of usability testing form

Usability testing: students

The raw notes taken during the usability tests are on the H drive.

Usability testing: graduate students and faculty

We did some testing on grad students and faculty, but decided to stop. We were not finding anything particularly surprising, we will be testing revised and vastly improved grad student and faculty pages, and we’re aiming the home page at undergrads, so we had enough to move on. See the H drive for details.

2.2. Design and test (paper) prototypes of user-centred home pages that meet web and accessibility standards.

  • Refer to other academic library home pages for design ideas and inspiration, e.g. the “Quick Links” and “How Do I…” drop menus on UTL’s new home page. Collect ideas in the Idea Bucket.
  • Design paper prototypes (five or six?) of revised/user centered home pages. Build them based on sound web design principles, user research, personas, and library objectives. We will capitalize on York’s in-house expertise such as the Bachelor of Design and the Technical and Professional Writing programs. We will not be constrained by the design of the current home page.
  • Use informal techniques for testing:
    • Decide on a few questions to ask about the prototypes.
    • Show at reference desk (all 5 libraries), around the library, outside.
    • Pass around to faculty and students (through liaison librarians).
    • Other testing.
  • Reiterate and refine as needed.
  • Take the best ideas and turn them into working prototypes.
  • Take what we know (so far) will be on the home page and open up to students with a CSS Zen Garden approach.


  • Home page prototypes (05 May 2009: four prototypes, with some explanation, and examples of what the centre search box can look like)

2.3. Build and test working prototypes of redesigned home pages.

  • Based on the best of the earlier prototypes, build (two or three?) working prototypes of new home pages: Mockup One, Mockup Two
  • Do usability testing on them, using the same tests as were done on the current home page.
  • Test each on small groups (5-8 people) of each of the three kinds of primary users.
  • Make changes to the prototypes based on these tests. Keep only the good prototypes.
  • Retest.
  • Repeat if necessary.

2.4. Settle on the final version of new home page.

  • Compare usability test results of original home page to this new revised version. It should be demonstrably and qualitatively better.

3. Implementation

  • When the working prototypes are ready, link them from the home page, with an easy way to get feedback and comments.
  • When the new revised home page is ready, announce it, link to it from the home page, promote it, and encourage people to start using it. Collect feedback, prepare revised screenshots and handouts, etc.
  • Make final refinements if needed.
  • Put into production in August 2009.

4. Evaluation

In order to get user feedback we will:

  • Perform a follow-up evaluation.
  • Collect feedback and make changes/updates as necessary.

5. Maintenance

User centered design is an iterative process, therefore, the maintenance of the home-page will be on going.

  • Make changes/updates as necessary.

General things to consider

  • What do we need the content management system to do?
  • How does this inform our plans for the discovery layer?
  • What is applicable to a wider site refresh or redesign?
  • Given WebCat and the e-resources databases, how much of an advanced search can we offer on the home page?
  • Library jargon: what terms are understandable?
  • Links and buttons should look like links and buttons.

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