Library website refresh.

We’re committed to getting a refreshed, slightly redesigned Library Gateway out there in time for returning students. Sometimes that feels like it is beginning of October, but then you remember that the Education students start in September, and we need to prepare teaching material. So it actually needs to be ready by August. <gulp>.

There are a few reasons why we’re dissatisfied with the current Library Gateway (60 links!!), which effectively acts as our library website. There are a tone of interesting people writing useful and knowledgeable stuff about library websites and design at the moment, and we’re hoping to capture some of that expertise in our refresh.

Initially, we’ve been looking at new tools, and revisiting tools that we’ve not used for a while. We’ve been doing a series of usability testing, based largely on the work that Matt Reidsma has carried out at Grand Valley State University. Usability testing is awesome! We’ve found out so much from the first few that we’ve done.

We’re trying to follow Matthew’s advice and do this monthly. We don’t have people watching the tests as they happen, but we will present something at our next seminar. I think the chellenge here for us is to make sure that we make gradual, iterative changes, rather than a fully fledged redesign. Oh, and politics!

We’ve also been using Google Analytics and ClickTale. ClickTale allows us to see where people are clicking on the Gateway, and we use analytics primarily to see what tech people are using to get to the Gateway – operating system, screen resolution and browser type and version. This has been really useful recently. We need to migrate from the template we used for the initial version of the Gateway, and I have been exploring other options. I was quite far down the line in researching one option, when I realised that it wouldn’t support IE6. Never mind! I thought. No one is really using IE6 anymore. Even Microsoft have a campaign to stop people using IE6! However, we’re in a position where we simply can’t ignore that some of our users are still on IE6, so have to make accommodations.

The University is also undergoing a brand refresh at the moment – so we’ll have to accommodate that in the next version.

At the same time, we’re also working on an updated version of re: Search, our online information literacy tool, and I need to update the mobile optimised version of the Library Gateway (it still lacks a “view desktop” mode and doesn’t work on Windows phone 7 OS).

LIbrary Gateway with notes