Applying User experience (UX) Design

Presentation of two libraries, Darien and Eastern Kentucky University, that have successfully applied user experience (UX) design to improve services and design new, innovative services.

Darien Library UX
by John Blyberg, Assistant Director, Innovation & UX, Darien Library

User experience design is kind of a nebulous term–still discussion about what it means. UX encompasses customer service, but they are not equivalents–it is one of the experiences we need to think careful about designing.

It’s not about the content; it is about the people. (Yay!) Need to think about Digital Natives, changing relationships with technology, and changing perceptions of libraries. People are using libraries differently.

Library as place is a very important concept: library as a third place. Need to think about the design that will enable the library to be a third place by building community. It’s about designing spaces that are flexible and have the possibility to become what the users want.

Think about the space in new ways. The purpose is to build a space that allows people to be more connected to their community. It’s also about designing a space for reading, studying, researching.

Need to look at where we should be putting our resources. Play to strengths–don’t try to compete with Netflix–play to what you do well in the communities.

Build efficiencies around moving materials, making sure all patron interactions/transactions work well, and the technology works. Natural use of technology is part of user design as well. A lot of time was spent designing OPAC (created the open source SOPAC); users create profiles and can tag and review the materials in the catalog.

Signage is very important! “Signage is a pet peeve.” Darien doesn’t allow paper signage. Why do we put up signage? Because we don’t want to deal with the problem directly or don’t know how to deal with the problem. If people want signs, it goes to a study group that figure out another way to solve the problem that doesn’t involve quiet signage. Need to look at expectations and come at the problems from another angle. “Signage is almost always indicative of another problem.”

“It’s amazing what will come back to you if you trust your users.” Create an atmosphere of trust–but the latest hot gadgets don’t hurt either.

We need to see ourselves as an essential service.

We need to get rid of silos and all work together.

Darien Library’s staff is doing awesome work, but also has a huge advantage of being well-funded. However, a lot of these concepts can be applied to less well-funded libraries.

For great UX, hire self-motivated, creative, energetic people and trust them to do the work and don’t micro-manage them.

While signage is annoying, branding is essential. Need to have a consistent brand.

by Cindi Trainor, Library Technology, Eastern Kentucky University

UX is “about the pure joy of the simple things”; you know where you need to go, can find what you want, and can do what you want to do.

EKU has an Online UX team, created by combining two other technology committees. Have as much Public Services representation as possible because Public Services actually interacts with the public.

Redesigned SFX (OpenURL link resolver) to make easier to use and to include more services. EKU also has an Usability Team–uasbility testing on catalogs and website redesign. Also has a LibGuides group: created template for guides so there is consistency. Also a web design group that analyzes and upgrades the website. They have good IT support from university too (lucky!).

EKU has gone to a single desk staffing model (circulation and reference are at the same desk). This makes it easier for the users: only one desk to go to no matter what your question is at the library. Also rethinking library instruction to make it as good as the teaching in the other disciplines.

EKU, like Darien, has put a lot of thought into the design of the physical and online library space. It shows in their innovative use of space and design of online services.

It’s all about designing with the user in mind= user-centric design. Try to think sideways to solve problems creatively. Think about design and how it will help your users. Signage is often bad (very bad), so figure out a way to deal with problems or issues without putting up more signage. Again, figure out what your users need and want to determine how to best design, deploy, and optimize services.