As a member of this committee from 2004 to 2007, I collaborated in content strategy and updating the design of the webpage.
In 2007, three librarians and a web designer were charged with creating new Queens College Libraries (QCL) webpages that would be more intuitive, user-friendly, and rooted in QC campus culture and language.
The QCL was out-of-date and not intuitive for users. Having two layers of top menus, long with some terminology, was confusing. Students and faculty frequently needed help finding our growing e-resource collection, which was “hidden” under “Periodicals Research.”
Create a user-friendly website where students, faculty, and campus visitors could easily and quickly find the resources or help they need.
Three librarians (including me!) and a web designer collaborated in creating the conceptual design and ontologies and taxonomies for the new site. While we did research, reading, and brainstorming on our own, the bulk of our work was done in biweekly meetings.
We followed the typical web design process, with the librarians participating the most in the first two and last phases.
We took a semester to research best practices, find examples of other library webpages (both those we liked and those we didn’t), and drafting our homepage and ontology and taxonomy. Once we had a solid homepage, we worked on our sitemap. We created wireframes and mock-ups to share with library faculty for feedback in surveys, meetings, and one-on-one discussions. After refining our design based on this, we launched the page in time for the fall semester!
The cleaner design, more intuitive terminology, and front-loading of information most frequenly sought after resulted in a more user-friendly webpage. Student and faculty feedback was overwhelming positive.
What We Learned
The librarians learned the importance of understanding your user and the terminology they use. Library jargon was jettisoned early on in the process. Collaborating and taking time in the brainstorming and user testing process with our fellow librarians paid off in that our initial sitemap and our ontologies and taxomony remained largely the same.