User Experience Research 101

Interested in applying UX research to your library but not sure where to start? This 90 minute webinar will introduce the concept of user experience, research planning, and practical research methods to librarians who may not have formal training in user experience research. Content of the webinar will be structured along the user-centered design process to help the audience integrate user experience research into their existing work. We will also use real-world examples from libraries.

Scope: This webinar is one in a two part series to aid librarians (specifically reference librarians) in understanding user experience design and research. This webinar will cover the general theories and concepts at the heart of what user experience design is trying to do, with ideas of where to start in terms of methods.


  • What is User Experience Research?
  • Why User Experience is good and fits into Reference Services
  • History of User Experience Research
  • How to plan your User Experience Research topic
  • What are my objectives?
  • How much time do I have?
  • How much money do I have?
  • How much people resource do I have?
  • Who am I presenting this to?
  • Is this for an existing product?
  • User Centered Design Process - introduction
  • User Experience Techniques
  • Interaction design
  • Focus groups
  • Contextual inquiry
  • Participatory design
  • Steps techniques
  • Tips or pitfalls
  • ROI- what is expensive to implement
  • Some ways to start integrating UX Research into your workflow

Approach: This webinar will take a theory and needs assessment approach. We are focusing on what librarians in public services and reference positions need to know about user experience design and research. We also see this first webinar as a moment to consider what their expected outcomes and resources they have before they start user research projects. The general question we want to answer in this first webinar is “What is it and where do I start?”

Questions with discussion and polls throughout the webinar to gauge comprehension as well as foster critical thinking (15 minutes) with 5 minutes for discussion at the end.

Learning Outcomes

  • Participants will be able to describe user experience research and its applications to libraries.
  • Participants can evaluate different methods for user experience research including surveys, web analytics, usability evaluations, and interviews.
  • Participants know where they can find out more or seek help.

Who Should Attend

This webinar is focused on reference librarians who interested in using usability and user experience methods to improve services at their libraries. This includes people who work on the libraries' virtual presence (web sites, mobile apps or CMS) but also people interested in improving cross channel user experience.


Ilana Barnes
 Ilana Barnes is Business Information Specialist (Assistant Professor of Library Science) at Purdue University. She graduated last fall from the University of Michigan School of Information, where she took classes in user experience research. She has given a webinar titled “Finding Waldo: Using the Census to Locate Underserved Populations in the Public Library Community” as part of her education at UM. She currently helps teach the half semester long, 1-credit information literacy class for Management students as well as the Hospitality and Tourism Management students.

Tao Zhang
Tao Zhang is Digital User Experience Specialist (Assistant Professor of Library Science) at Purdue University. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Vanderbilt University from 2009 to 2011. He received his PhD degree in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University in 2009. He has worked on user experience research projects ranging from website design, Digital TV interface, virtual reality, and human-robot interaction in healthcare and emergency response scenarios. Currently he is working on user research and interface design projects to improve the web presence and services of Purdue University Libraries.


How to Register

Register online


Questions about your registration should be directed to Technical questions about the webinar should be directed to Andrea Hill, RUSA Web Manager, at

Thank you and we look forward to your participation!