All posts in Information Architecture

How to Conduct Library Website Usability Studies for Free

cardsortWe’re currently redesigning our website at The New York Law Institute library and we our goal has been to create a user-centered design with lots of input from our actual members and users. We started out by conducting a complete heuristic evaluation of our website interface and structure to identify problems and pain points. We also performed a content audit in which we created and analyzed a complete content inventory of our site. See below for some helpful how-to guides to get started with these types of exercises. These were great starting points because we were able to identify and analyze what we currently had to offer as far as our website experience. A redesign doesn’t mean that you throw everything out and start from scratch, so we wanted to leverage what we had that was working but also think about new ways to provide a better user experience. We decided to re-write quite a bit of our content before even starting to build the new redesign and that was an easy and manageable first step.

Guides to Conducting Heuristic Evaluations

 

Guides to Conducting Content Audits

 

After we analyzed our current website structure and content, we came up with a strategy for how we wanted to improve it. We came up with improvements such as making our design responsive so that it would adapt to any size screen for our mobile users, drop-down menus for navigation, a site-wide search that would also allow for catalog and federated search options, an improved events calendar, etc. Next we wanted to use language and navigation that our members would find the most natural. To this end we conducted card sorts, both online and live, face-to-face.

Card Sorting is a method or technique for discovering how website users categorize information so that you can design your information structure in a way which is navigable and findable by your users. The method involves asking participants to sort sets of cards which have items, names, pages, or sections of your website printed on them into groups that make sense to them, and sometimes to assign labels to those groups. This type of usability study can be conducted in person and/or completely online. I have a workshop with step-by-step instructions for implementing a card sort available here. This workshop will also walk you through how to analyze the data you collect from your sort. And please see below for some free online card sorting tools.

 

Free Online Card Sorting Software

The results of the card sort usability tests that we ran were invaluable. We not only gained insight into how our members would prefer our navigational structure to be designed, but we also found out that our members weren’t understanding the way that we worded the names of certain pages. This gave us a chance to rename several parts of our website and see if those page names did any better in the following studies. Card sorts are also a great way to test out a page name that one person on the staff may want, but others disagree on it – it eliminates internal arguments because the results of what users want speak for themselves!

 

Read the full post How to Conduct Library Website Usability Studies for Free on OEDB.org.

LegalTech: Bolstering KM Through User Experience Design

The Advanced IT track at the LegalTech New York 2014 conference discussed the use of UX (user experience) design in law firms.

The panel included Andrew Baker, Director of Legal Technology Innovations Office at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Tom Baldwin, Chief Knowledge Officer at Reed Smith LLP, Patrick DiDomenico, Director of Knowledge Management at  Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., and Kate Simpson at Tangledom Inc.

Kate Simpson set the tone by discussing UX as a profession, a practice, and a process, explaining that it’s about people, not devices.  She mentioned Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” which is one of my favorites in this arena.

Tom Baldwin discussed “Driving Adoption Through UI and Gamification” and talked about what new initiatives they’ve been developing at Reed Smith. The most interesting was the matter profiling app they designed which uses leaderboards spotlighting the top profilers as incentive.  They also improved upon their last app by illustrating that the user need only go through a 2-step process in order to successfully complete the matter profile.  By using this new reward system, they’ve seen an increase to 300 matters profiled per month over the 130 with the old app.  They’ve used leaderboards in their other custom applications as well as transforming their firm directory into a LinkedIn-like interface, and switched their display of financial reporting to using data visualizations for easier digestion.

Read the full post LegalTech: Bolstering KM Through User Experience Design on OEDB.org.