Do-it-Yourself Usability Testing: An Introduction

Yesterday, I presented a webinar sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records. They organize professional development for library workers across the state. This was a great opportunity to share an overview of how to conduct usability testing easily and on a budget.

We had a few technical issues at the start, and some of my slides came out funky or incomplete, but other than that I think it went well.

Webinar recording (1 hour)

Presentations at edUi 2013

I was fortunate to attend edUi for the second time this year. Excellent conference that brings together leaders in user experience from the higher ed community. I presented twice – first with colleague from UNC Chapel Hill, Kim Vassiliaddis on bringing together stakeholders and leading staff during times of big changes:

I then presented with former colleague, Samantha Barry, on techniques for effective web writing:

Wrapping up the Library Juice Academy UX Certificate

Earlier this year, I helped organize the UX Certificate program for Library Juice Academy. It’s 6 courses, completely online, with each course lasting 4 weeks. I’d previously been teaching the Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing, which was super fun & interesting, so I was happy to add a couple more, and also bring in some colleagues from elsewhere to contribute.

I was lucky to get others on board to help with the curriculum and the teaching:

It’s great to see so many familiar faces in these classes – students taking the entire program. I also see some new faces in each course, which is also fun. We have a mix of students from academic, community college, and public libraries as well as some who are working towards their MLS or who are just seeking some continuing education.

We have in the final month of teaching right now, wrapping it up with Content Strategy for the Web. I am possibly most excited about this course, because content strategy has been on my mind for a long time and I want to share the love. I published an article earlier this year, Developing a Content Strategy for an Academic Library Website, and am currently right in the middle of a search for a one-year Web Content Strategist for our library. I’ve been de facto content strategist, but if we could have someone whose whole job is dedicated to this type of work, that would be awesome. I think we could so some really innovate stuff with our site. And we have some great candidates, which is really exciting. This position has been funded for 12 months, but I am thinking we might be able to justify having a permanent line in this role, depending how the year goes and what we accomplish. We shall see!

Rebuild of the Center for Creative Photography Website

I presented with my colleagues Ginger Bidwell & Josh Williams yesterday, “Extreme Website Makeover: Center for Creative Photography Edition.” It was at the annual Arizona Library Association (AZLA) conference held in Phoenix.

I started off by discussing who was involved, how we communicated with stakeholders, what user research we conducted (survey, personas, remote card sorting), our competitive analysis, and how we developed a purpose, voice & tone for the new website. Ginger discussed all things Drupal, including how we built structured content and why it’s so important, and Josh discussed the visual design decisions and how & why we went with a responsive design. The audience seemed very interested in the process, and for many of them working in public libraries across the state, this was at the first time they had heard of techniques like personas, card sorting, structured content, and responsive design.

Too Many Cooks in the Web Kitchen?

I just came back from edUi 2012. What a great conference – engaging speakers, relevant topics, and lots of opportunities for networking. I hadn’t been before, but would love to go again.

I presented a talk, “Too Many Cooks in the Web Kitchen? A Successful Case of Herding Cats to Improve the User Experience.”


It was standing room only, which proved to me this is an issue near and dear to many of us working on websites for educational institutions. We do have a lot of stakeholders to deal with and a lot of responsible parties. I hope that what I’ve learned will be helpful for others, but I also want others to tell me where they have been successful. I am really happy that I was able to make a lot of connections and collect a lot of business cards – content strategy is a murky area so the more people to talk to (and vent to!) the better.

You can see more information on my talk, including the abstract and audience comments, at Speakerrate.

A Pitch for Web Product Management

I was assigned as “Website Product Manager” almost exactly two years ago, and since then I’ve sort of figured out what I’m doing, but have still felt quite alone in that I don’t know of any other librarian that considers herself in this same particular profession.

Then today I was cruising for some readings for my recently-announced DIY Usability Testing online course (thought I’d throw that pitch in there), and ran across today’s post in the fabulous A List Apart blog, titled Product Management for the Web. Hey – that’s what I do! Everything that article mentions is very much in line with what I’ve been trying to do at the University of Arizona Libraries – forming and maintaining networks of relationships, earning trust, communicating like crazy, researching user needs & gathering analytics, setting priorities, and writing & implementing a website road map.

It’s true that when I went to Usability Week back at the end of 2010, I would introduce myself as “website product manager” and would get some “oos” and “ahhs,” so I think it’s safe to say it has been around in the larger world for a long time. But when I tell a librarian colleague that title, I am more commonly given a “huh?” response.

Perhaps this will continue to be a growing trend in how website work is managed… I think it’s pretty new for libraries, but perhaps it will become a trend in libraries soon enough, too. I don’t think it would be a bad idea, although in fairness I’m a bit biased.

Content Strategy for Library Websites

I just got back from ALA where I presented a poster titled, “Is Your Web Content Useful, Usable, and Findable? Developing a Content Strategy for Your Library Website.” You can see the abstract and attached documents on the ALA Connect posting.

For an hour and a half, I was able to share what we’ve been able to achieve at the University of Arizona with other librarians, directors, developers, and web professionals. We all struggle with the same thing: we have gigantic websites with complex content. Many of us have no clear oversight or accountability related to this content. Rather than having content lifecycles, we have content that is created once, edited rarely, and that never goes away.

I hope that my presentation helps start a discussion among libraries about how to go about getting a handle on our website content and figuring out ways to manage it in a effective and sustainable way.

The content strategy I developed, which includes defined roles & responsibilities, workflows for creation & deletion of pages, editorial standards, accountability measures & success metrics, and lots of training, should be transferable to similar organizations. I hope others will share their own experiences and we can all learn from each other. User experience is as important as ever, and our website content needs to be useful, usable, and findable, if we are to continue being relevant.

Image of poster for Developing a Content Strategy for Your Library Website

Developing a Content Strategy for Your Library Website