Redesigning a Faculty Services Page

Today, we start the process of redesigning a page on our library’s website that details various services available to faculty members. I thought it might useful to document that process a bit.

Some History

The library here at Baruch College launched a redesigned website on December 26, 2012. Most of the work that went into the redesign focused on student needs. Now, we’d like to take some time to rethink how the services and resources of interest to the faculty are presented on the site. The text on the current “Faculty Services” page is mostly the same text we had on the old site.

The Plan

The short version: needs assessment, redesign, usability tests, tweak design as needed.

The long version: Today, I meet with a five-person Committee on the Library, a body whose members are elected from departments across the three schools at Baruch (a business school, a school of arts and sciences, and a school of public affairs). To prepare for today’s meetings, I asked members to complete a three-question survey:

  1. What are the top three tasks that you come to the library website for?
  2. What other reasons or tasks bring you to the library website?
  3. What brings you to the library website more: your own research needs or your teaching needs?

At the meeting, I intend to:

  • review the overall plan for redesigning the page
  • review the results of my survey and a survey administered last fall to the faculty that focused on the value of the library
  • do a card sorting exercise where I ask them to arrange cards featuring services and resources into piles that make sense to them (from this, I hope to discern a useful way to chunk the content on the page, to find better wording for that content, and to learn if there are any things I forgot or that I can forget)

After the meeting is over, I expect to do the following this semester:

  • work with our web design team to come up with a new layout and new text for the page
  • make individual appointments with members of the Committee on the Library to have them do a traditional usability test that will likely take them to the redesigned faculty services page as well as other places on the website
  • after analyzing the results of the usability tests, I’ll work with the web design team to further refine the faculty page

I expect that the process will be completed this spring semester. As I complete steps in the plan, I’ll try to return to my blog to write up posts about how it’s been going.

Naming Conventions for Databases

One of the things I struggle with when thinking about the library website is how to name the databases and other online resources that we subscribe to at my library. My general principle is to have the database name on the library website match the way that the database names itself. In general, this means leaving the platform/vendor name out of the name we use on the library website. Rather than say “EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete” or “Academic Search Complete (EBSCOhost),” it makes more sense to just list it as “Academic Search Complete.”

I get that including the platform/vendor name as part of the naming system you use on the website may help those users who can’t quite remember the exact name of the database they were supposed to use or that they used once before. By offering the vendor or platform name (EBSCOhost, ProQuest, WilsonWeb, etc.) as well as the specific database name, we’re giving our users  more details that may trigger recognition. On the other hand, I’m more concerned that students be able to indicate the database name correctly in any citations that they include in a bibliography. In general, the style guides seem to suggest that you just use the database name. Many of the databases will generate citations for sources that you find, and those citations usually leave off the vendor or platform name.

This week, I noticed that a database we’ve listed as “Westlaw Campus” is probably more correctly referred to as “Campus Resarch.” Before I recommend to my colleagues that we rename the database on our site, I’m curious about how other libraries list that database on their library sites. If you’ve got 30 seconds, it would be great if you could indicate on this poll in Doodle how your library handles the naming of this database. I’ll do a post later where I summarize the results.