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Work > San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Library

Description 

Our goal was to understand how we can help users have a better online experience navigating the San Francisco Public Library’s website, while being mindful of the library’s mission.

The navigation’s clarity of structure, ability to communicate effectively with users and user’s ability to navigate were all pain points for the library. We were able to improve some areas the navigation, specifically in finding events and resources. But we need to continue testing to solve issues with user’s ability to find books and other media.

Role and Responsibilities

Along with 2 other UX Designers, we focused our efforts to mainly on conducting and analyzing research.

Scope

2 week sprint 

Researching the Business

Business Model Canvas

We used the business model canvas to get a deeper look into the current status of our client’s business goals and their resources, channels of communication, and key partners among other metics. We used the information gathered to better understand our design limitations. 

Takeaways

  • San Francisco Public Library not only provides the community with a catalog of books and media, but also a place to host and attend events and exhibits, it provides educational resources among other services

  • They rely heavily on donations and financial support from the government which enables them to offer library cards for residents of San Francisco for free

  • Strengthening the current Navigation System for the website will allow current and new users to more effectively complete their tasks and goals

Feature Analysis 

Feature analysis help us identify features and best practices amongst websites. They also help us find areas where we can innovate and differentiate their design of the website.

Competitive Analysis Takeaways

All competitors have a search bar, a user account page, and virtual library. These are found in the Navigation, which enables users to find them easily. Through noticing consistencies such as these, we are able to confirm which current features are important and which ones may be under scrutiny to be restructured.

  • San Francisco Public Library not only provides the community with a catalog of books and media, but also a place to host and attend events and exhibits, it provides educational resources among other services

  •  They rely heavily on donations and financial support from the government which enables them to offer library cards for residents of San Francisco for free

  • Strengthening the current Navigation System for the website will allow current and new users to more effectively complete their tasks and goals

Comparative Analysis Takeaways

Content reviews are featured across the board, and according to our persona, award winning and top rated books are important and a quick way to show high reviews is something to keep in mind during our redesign.

  • Barnes and Noble offers similar features to SFPL but the public library will rent books and media to its users while Barnes and Nobles will not

  • Content reviews are featured across the board, and according to our persona, award winning and top rated books are important and a quick way to show high reviews is something to keep in mind during our redesign

Heuristic Evaluation

To better understand the areas of improvement on della terra’s existing website, we analyzed the interface with an heuristic evaluation. This is a type of design review based on recognized usability principles that will help us identify areas of improvement regarding the information architecture. Specifically, we used the “Abby Method.'' 

Takeaways

  • Site’s communicativeness was one of our main pain points, specifically navigation is not clear and there are some cases of pages linking to the wrong place. For example, selecting Meeting Rooms in Support and Services takes you to Meeting Rooms in Events & Exhibits.

  • Site’s usability needs some work. Most commonly we found that pages were geared toward a loyal user rather than new users. In addition, organization of content doesn't help users get to where they need to be to complete tasks, navigation needs to have more clear language and content for the most part makes sense and is clear for the users.

  • Navigation titles aren't easy to understand. For example, BibloBoutique, Classic Catalog, all of the Featured items under Events & Exhibits.

Existing site structure

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Testing the existing structure

Tree Testing 

Tree testing helps use determine how users are currently navigating through the website. We wanted to understand the logical sequence of the navigation, as well as make sense of the labeling involved in that process.

Participants were given 3 scenario task that required them to click through a simplified collapsable version of the existing navigation to complete each task. If participants competed the task correctly, without viewing any non related pages, it’d be considered a direct success. If participants do view non related pages but ultimately complete the task correctly, it’d be deemed an indirect success.

Findings

  • Users were not able to easily complete their tasks with the current language used for the navigation

  • Many of the titles do not clearly state the content that lives on the page, leaving testers to guess what many of the different items may mean

  • Finding critically acclaimed books requires a user to go through four levels of navigation to land on the correct page [Books & Media > Catalog > Explore > Awards]. For a new user, this may mean a good amount of time is used browsing through the website in order to complete this task.

  • There were some results that lead us to believe there may have also been an issue in understanding the task - for example:

  • ​ When tasked with choosing an event to attend, one participant chose the following path: Books & Media > Catalog > Explore > New Titles

Open Card Sorting

To evaluate the taxonomy of a site’s information architecture. We provided users with cards labeled based on the secondary navigation options of the website. Participants were to create different categories and label them based on their preferences. This is helpful in understanding how users categorized pages and the phrasing they identify with.

Findings

  • 2 of 6 participants grouped “Accessibility Services”, “Frequently Asked Questions” and “Ask a Librarian” together under the “Help” label.

  • Users sorted similar words together, such as “Featured”, “e-titles” and “Resources” despite the content not being similar.

  • We also found that when people didn’t understand the meaning of the card, they placed it under the “Resources” category.

Closed Card Sorting

To evaluate the taxonomy of a site’s information architecture. We provided users with both cards from secondary navigation titles, as well as the existing category labels from the website and had them place the cards to where they felt grouping was appropriate. This is helpful in understanding how users group the information based on the original architecture of the navigation.

Findings

  • We learned that users' mental models are similarly wired when sorting cards related to the Books & Media category. Meaning the San Francisco Public Library correctly labeled and categorized this particular grouping for the most part

  • We also learned that users have a 50/50 chance of correctly navigating the Events & Exhibits category

  • Research & Learn and Support & Services weren’t too far of, percentage wise, from Events & Exhibits, showing that these categories need nearly equally amounts of improvements to labeling and navigation

Proposed change to site structure

Testing the proposed site structure

Tree Testing findings

  • Task 1: There was a 49% decrease in Success, 60% decrease in Directness and a 10.8 second increase in time on task.

    • This is more tan likely due to the change in the task assignment. By making the task more personalized “that interest you,” we added to the confusion, inadvertently.

  • Task 2: There was a 66% increase in Success, 20% decrease in Directness and a 1.72 second decrease in time on task.

    • We improved the users likelihood of find the correct destination and shortened their time to do it but users are still getting lost navigating.

  • Task 3: There was a 47% increase in Success, 16% increase in Directness and a 1.83 second decrease in time on task.

    • We improved the users likelihood fo find the correct destination, shortened their time getting there.

Closed Card Sorting findings

  • We learned that with our proposed navigation structure, we improved users ability to correctly identify where certain information may be located. The is particularly highlighted in the Calendar, Resources and Help categories.

  • We failed in improving the intuitiveness of the Books & Media and eLibrary, which is how most users would identify the library’s importance.

  • I would like to note that there was a significant difference in the first group of testers and second. The first were mainly current college students, who have recently used a library, compared to the second group who are most representative of my age group. All least 10 years since they’ve used a library and may longer be familiar with the terms used.

Recommendations

  • Use language that communicates to more than just those who frequent the library. Users also understand actionable phrasing, rather than a generic label.

  • Organize and condensing page content when necessary, this will help users pinpoint exactly what they are looking for. Too much information can cause confusion.

  • Grouping elements that appear similar and /or have similar functionally. Keeping organization logical will build user familiarity.

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