Website Redesign

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For Immediate Release,
April 15, 2008

Contact: Steve Zalusky
Manager of Communications,
ALA Public Information Office
(312) 280-1546

ALA to unveil redesigned Web site at Annual Conference

CHICAGO – After an extensive analysis of member concerns, the American Library Association is unveiling a user-centered redesign of its Web site that promises to be better organized and easier to navigate.

Users will get to see the revamped site at its unveiling during the ALA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Under the redesign, the information architecture of the site has been completely revised, based on user input from focus groups, one-on-one interviews, expert review, hands-on usability tests, online surveys and guided walk-throughs.

The redesign is the result of a process that began in April, 2006. The goals were to examine the existing site, propose improvements based on a number of user inputs, validate those solutions with more user input and implement the resulting recommendations. Working with ALA on the redesign was UserWorks Inc., based in Silver Spring, Md. UserWorks was chosen from six strong candidates by the Web Editorial Board, the Website Advisory Committee and ALA senior management, based on its proposal, as well as its track record of successful redesigns with similar organizations.

Rob Carlson, the ALA’s manager of Web development, said users in the past have expressed concerns about the way information was organized, saying it didn’t meet their expectations of how they would walk through the information. “The way they put it was that it didn’t match the users’ mental models,” he said.

For instance, in order to find information about a program being presented at a particular conference, one would first have to navigate through the site of the division sponsoring the program.

With the redesign, one can access a division page right off the home page.

“One of the things we heard loudly and clearly from people we interviewed was that they wanted easy access to the divisions,” Carlson said. “Most people see their piece of ALA through their division, rather than walking the tree of ALA.”

ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels said the redesign makes it easier to access information. “I think that it's just much more well organized. There were a lot of things on the home page that were buried before.”

One of the key aspects of the redesign is that ALA is not basing its Web site on ALA’s organizational structure anymore, Carlson said. The Web site will also do a better job of “flagging” content for various audiences, including member and non-member. In addition, cryptic terminology and jargon, as well as long, meaningless URLs will be eliminated.

News will also be organized differently on the Home Page, with information divided into the following categories: inside ALA; legislation and advocacy news; and national and international views.

Fiels said he is pleased with the redesign. “I think it looks great. I think that what's probably most interesting about it is that it really is based on lots of conversations from the members and a real recognition that the goal of the Web site is to make information as easy to find as possible.”

The unveiling in Anaheim, however, is only the beginning. ALA will be monitoring responses to the redesign with an eye to further improvements.