A redesigned version of the new catalog was publicly released on April 25. A test version of this new design was made available to library staff in early March. The Forward Development Task Force (FDTF) spent much of the previous two months improving the new design based on staff and user feedback and usability testing.
The new design incorporates the branding and colors of the Libraries’ website and other UW sites and is “skinnable”, meaning other UW System campuses can personalize it with their logos and colors. Responsive Web Design ensures that the new catalog dynamically adapts to a user’s viewing environment, tailoring itself to smartphones and tablets.
Overview of New Design
The new catalog homepage embraces a clean and simple design aesthetic. The inclusion of cover art and images from the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center add visual interest.
Usability testing confirmed that the new design meets user expectations. The design was almost universally praised and participants compared it to popular commercial web destinations, like Amazon.
Prominent availability buttons are located in almost every record in the search results list when a search is scoped to UW- Madison. The green “Available” button appears if the record includes one item and that item is available for checkout. The orange “View record” button is displayed if a record includes more than one item (i.e., a library owns multiple copies of the item or more than one library holds the same item). The red “Not Available” button is displayed if UW-Madison owns one copy of an item and that item is currently checked out.
A “Libraries” facet appears beneath “Search Scope” under Refine Your Search, enabling users to easily switch between UW System and UW-Madison searching and limit a search to a particular location at UW-Madison. Currently selected facet “bubbles” at the top of the page allow users to quickly refine and remix search queries.
Users consistently told us that limiting by location and format is extremely important to them. The “Libraries” facet and the conspicuous search scope functionality were informed by this feedback. Users also indicated that they want to see availability information up front; they don’t want to click into a record only to discover that the item isn’t available. We plan to get more feedback on the logic of the current availability buttons in the coming months to ensure this functionality is meeting user expectations.
Availability information is now clearly displayed in a table on the right side of item records. The UW-Madison branded “Find It” button appears in records for journals.
Buttons were created for common user actions, such as cite, email, and print, and placed in a toolbar at the top of the item record.
User testing has demonstrated that, within the item record, availability and location information for items at UW-Madison is intuitive and easy to determine. Feedback from users also indicated that the “View Physical Copies at Other Campuses” link to find availability information at other UW System schools and the “Sign In to Place Request” button need to be more visible. The FDTF is working to make these critical functionalities more evident.
Links to Advanced Search are available in multiple locations, next to the basic search box and in the main navigation bar. Within Advanced Search, the “Library” limit, formerly the “Location” limit, is displayed first to reflect user behavior.
Usability testing revealed that Advanced Search is more commonly used than previously suspected. The FDTF is reviewing the examples beneath each search field to ensure they provide accurate and unambiguous guidance.
The A-Z navigation now includes a secondary list to help improve user discovery of a desired subject term. For example, if a user is looking for items on presidents and clicks on the “P”, a sub-menu with the second letter for all subject terms beginning with P appears. The user could then click on “Pr” to narrow their browse. The “Pr” is also displayed in the “Filter by” box, directing users to use this functionality to further narrow their result set.
The FDTF is aware that significant usability issues still exist with this portion of the application. Namely, the “Filter by” box remains case sensitive. User testing indicated that the A-Z list and sub-list make sense to users and, to some extent, direct them to effectively use the “Filter by” box; however, participants are still perplexed by the number of links on this page and aren’t sure why they would use this feature over keyword searching.
This semester, the Web Services Usability and Assessment Team (WSUAT) completed two round of usability testing and met with the DoIT Student Advisory Board. For more detailed information on user feedback and the FDTF response, please see the complete first round report and the response from the design team.
The full report from the second round of testing and notes from the DoIT Student Advisory Board meeting will be made available shortly.
Usability testing helps us identify trends in user behavior and red flag issues, but this information is collected from a small sample of users in a test environment and doesn’t completely represent how users will interact with the new catalog. We also need to hear from you! Please let us know what you think of the new design by using the blue “Share Your Feedback” button at the bottom of every page in the new catalog.