Breaking Free: Recreating your Library Web Site from A to Z

A LITA Preconference at 2003 ALA Annual Conference.

25 June 2003, 8:30 to 5:50

Abstract

Experience the process of a complete library web site redesign project. Librarians from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), Toronto Public Library (TPL), and the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point (UWSP) will lead attendees through the process of conducting usability studies; analyzing web usage statistics; testing ADA compliance; examining web site architecture; exploring principles of web design; using JavaScript and dynamic web design; and much more. Join them for an intensive exploration into the recreation of a library web site.

Objectives

  • Find out how to apply user-centered web design principles
  • Identify major approaches of redesigning a web site that specifically apply to online resource access and service needs.
  • Master ways to conduct a usability study and accessibility assessment, and analyze data collected from usage statistics.
  • Obtain tips for creating an accessible and ADA compliant web site.
  • Find out how to utilize dynamic web design to maintain a variety of digital and print resources.

Intended Audience

  • Librarians from academic, public and special libraries
  • Librarians interested in learning how to design and redesign websites from people who have been through it.
  • Librarians who wish to learn tips on how to evaluate a web site from the users point of view, and from usage statistics.
  • Librarians who wish to learn how to design a library web site that is user-centered, and ADA compliant.
  • Librarians who have been involved in this type of project and wish to share their experiences through discussion and exercises, as well as librarians who have not been involved in such a project but who may wish to be or anticipate that they may be in the future.
  • Librarians who are not necessarily technologically savvy. This is important as our talk will be more from the users point of view, what the users need and want. A brief introduction on the technology needed to create web sites will be included.
  • Librarians who are enthusiastic about what the web has to offer and how librarians can work to present the information on the web in a user-friendly way.

Projects Covered

  • Library Web Redesign Project - University Library, California State University,
    Los Angeles
  • Web Redesign Project - Toronto Public Library
  • SmallbizXpress Gateway on the Virtual Reference Library - Toronto Public
    Library

Speakers

Toronto Public Library

Catherine Mill, VRL/Electronic Services Coordinator / cmill@tpl.toronto.on.ca

Margaret Wigglesworth, SmallbizXpress Gateway Coordinator / mwigglesworth@tpl.toronto.on.ca

Andrew Lofft, Electronic Services Coordinator / aloftt@tpl.toronto.on.ca

Michel Blondeau, ecentricarts Inc. / mblondeau@ecentricarts.com

University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point

Axel Schmetzke, Reference, Coordinator of Instruction, Head of IMC / aschmetz@uwsp.edu

University Library, California State University, Los Angeles

Scott Breivold, Media, Communication and Arts Librarian / sbreivo@calstatela.edu

Chad Kahl, Information Literacy Coordinator / ckahl@calstatela.edu

Romelia Salinia, Social Science Librarian / rsalina@calstatela.edu

Stephen Sottong, Engineering, Computer Science and Technology Librarian / ssotton@calstatela.edu

Holly Yu, Library Web Administrator (Program contact ) / hyu3@calstatela.edu

Toronto Public Library

Find out how Toronto Public Library applies user-centred design principles to creating web resources from librarians and vendors. Speakers will describe their approach to defining user needs and how they translate those needs into good design by exploring two different web projects: the Toronto Public Library website and SmallbizXpress, a gateway to small business information.

The Toronto Public Library website

  • Integrating the web presence of 7 library systems as a result of the amalgamation of 7 municipal entities into one

The Virtual Reference Library - Small Business Gateway

  • Creating a new gateway for a specific subject area
  • Provincial [Ontario] as well as municipal [Toronto] focus

Standard approach and principles applied to different audiences/user groups

  • Overview of Toronto Public Library web design methodology
  • The team approach
  • User needs analysis and usability
  • Hiring external software developers

Toronto Public Library website design considerations

  • Users and user needs analysis for a wide, general user group
  • Description of the user needs analysis, usability and concept development
  • Translating user needs into good design in the user interface
  • Vendor approach
  • Activity: present content areas from old website, ask audience at tables to reorganize for a "new site" - then reveal how Toronto Public Library organized the redesigned site

SmallbizXpress design considerations

  • Users and user needs analysis for a more narrowly defined and focussed user group
  • Description of the user needs analysis, usability and concept development
  • Translating user needs into good design in the user interface
  • Activity: ask each table or groups of people to act as specific user groups and list top 3 things each group would want on the website. Then, based on their lists, critique SmallbizXpress to see if it meets their needs.

University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point

Library web sites must be designed so that they are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. The legal mandate for ADA compliance is not limited to the physical world but applies equally to the online environment. Unfortunately, empirical studies reveal that the web sites of both Canadian and U.S. libraries tend to be fraught with access barriers. After providing an overview of these studies, the presenter introduces and demonstrates some important tools that librarians can use to evaluate the accessibility of their existing web site, and that web designers will find helpful when checking their newly created pages for potential barriers.

California State University, Los Angeles

Experience the process of a complete library web site redesign project. Librarians from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) will lead attendees through the process of conducting usability studies; analyzing web usage statistics; testing ADA compliance; examining web site architecture; exploring principles of web design; using JavaScript and dynamic web design; and much more. Join them for an intensive exploration into the recreation of a library web site.

CSULA Library conducted three rounds of formal usability testing. Learn why formal usability testing is important. Understand the basics behind testing. Become aware of practical challenges you may face. See the key results from the testing.

In addition to conducting usability studies, accessibility assessment was conducted. The session will illustrate a full process of an accessibility assessment of the key pages on the library web using Bobby, LynxViewer, and JAWS (Job Access With Speech, a screen reader). Issues and problems identified by the assessment will be discussed.

The site usage statistics (server log) provided quantitative usage information. Discussion will be focus on how these data were used to redesign the new navigational structure.

The restructuring and development of site content addressed many problems identified by the usability study. The objectives and methods used in prioritizing, streamlining, and reorganizing content will be shared. This will include a discussion on the identification and development content previously unavailable. Solutions to challenges encountered in the process will also be presented.

The design phase of the project will be discussed, including how the team approached the challenges of page layout, use of color and graphics, creating a consistent look and feel throughout the site, etc. They will explain the process they used to arrive at new page designs and discuss how factors such as usability test results, University web guidelines, and other factors steered the aesthetic direction of the new site.

Speakers will present tips and tricks for Web page design using dynamic picture resizing and JavaScript for rollover menus, dynamic examples, on-the-fly URL creation and client-side includes. A framework for cross-browser compatibility will also be shown.

Speaker Biographies

Toronto Public Library

Michel Blondeau, an award-winning new media producer, is currently the ceo/ideaguy for ecentricarts inc., a web development company focusing on culture, entertainment and education.

Andrew Lofft has been Electronic Service Specialist for Toronto Public Library since the library's amalgamation in 1998. He started his career with the former North York Public Library as a science reference librarian and then was Electronic Resources librarian from 1994-97. Since 1989 Andrew has helped to launch many electronic services from CD-ROM to OPACs to websites and licensed databases, and is grateful to have missed card catalogues.

Catherine Mill is the VRL/Electronic Services Coordinator with the Virtual Reference Library at Toronto Public Library. She also worked as the Project Coordinator for the Career Bookmarks Gateway on the Virtual Reference Library and as a business librarian at the Toronto Reference Library.

Margaret Wigglesworth is the current Coordinator of the SmallbizXpress Gateway, and a business librarian at the Toronto Reference Library.

University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point

Axel Schmetzke works as a reference and bibliographic instruction librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. During the past five years, his research focused on the accessibility of the educational online environment for all people. He has published several articles and given numerous conference presentations on this subject. He is the guest-editor of two recent special-theme issues in Library Hi Tech on the accessibility of online library resources, and he moderates the AXSLIB-L discussion forum.

California State University, Los Angeles

Scott Breivold is the Media, Communications, & Arts Librarian at Cal State LA. In addition to running the library's newly created "Music & Media Center," Scott is the liaison to the departments of Art, Communication Studies, Music, and Theatre Arts & Dance. As a member of the Library's Web Team, he served as leader of the design sub-group for the team's recent Library web redesign project.

Chad Kahl coordinated the usability testing component of the Library's web redesign project. He is the Coordinator of Information Literacy and Community College Outreach Librarian at California State University, Los Angeles. He acts as the liaison librarian to the political science department and the introductory writing program. He is professionally active in the Instruction Section of ACRL and the southern California Instruction Librarians (sCIL) CARL interest group.

Romelia Salinas led the "structure subgroup" responsible for site content restructuring and development as part of the Library's web redesign project. She is currently the Social Sciences Librarian at California State University, Los Angeles and is an active member of the Library's Web Team. She received her MLIS from UCLA in 1994 and has recently returned to UCLA to pursue a doctorate in Information Studies.

Stephen Sottong is the Engineering, Technology, Computer Science and Psychology librarian at California State University, Los Angeles. Prior to becoming a librarian he was an electrical engineer in the aerospace industry. In addition to writing on Web page design, he has written extensively on the technical difficulties associated with e-books.

Holly Yu is the University Library's Web Administrator, reference librarian, and liaison librarian to the departments of History, and Geography and Urban Analysis. She coordinated the Library web redesign project. She recently published an article on ADA issues in Library Hi Tech, and a book chapter on the similar issues in Design and Implementation of Web-Enabled Teaching Tools.