Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Where does the feedback go?

Kirstyn Radford, Research Support Librarian, explains how your feedback is helping us to improve the Library catalogue. 

Regular users of YorSearch, our Library catalogue, can't fail to have noticed an insistent purple tab nudging their results.
YorSearch feedback button

This new feature was launched at the start of 2014/15 to make it easy for Library users to tell us about any difficulties they experience when searching the catalogue, and any noteworthy successes! You’re welcome to share a screenshot with us as a record of your experience.

Results from recent Library surveys have given us pause for thought: not everyone finds the catalogue interface straightforward. Exciting new additions to our collections might languish unnoticed on the shelves if they're not prominent in search results. Equally frustratingly, people who know our collections well occasionally report difficulty locating material they know we've got. Sometimes students (and staff) come to the Library Help Desk to ask for assistance; while we’re always happy to help, we'd ideally like to provide systems that are intuitive.

Fortunately, we're not stuck with our catalogue "straight out of the box". Several UK universities have purchased the same system, including Oxford, Bath and Sheffield: a quick glance at these widely dissimilar interfaces shows how much scope we have for local customisation. UK-wide user groups share expertise between technical teams, and a European consortium of university libraries drives forward new developments which will benefit all customers. Yet none of this external support would be sufficient without input from our users here at York, helping us to understand their scholarly needs in order to refine our catalogue's design and operability.

Your feedback is reviewed daily by the 'Digital Discovery' project team, including staff from the Help Desk and Academic Liaison as well as techies. Any glitches that can be resolved quickly are dealt with at the first opportunity and, if the person leaving the comment has provided an email address, we will keep them informed of progress. More general comments about the catalogue's look and feel, or issues which will take longer to resolve, are logged and categorised to help us plan the project's next steps.

There's a lot of literature out there about how to run a successful user experience project, and almost all writers recommend testing ideas with a user group before making changes to the live system. We are putting together a squad of students at different levels of study, from a range of departments, and this group will also be encouraged to canvass the opinions of friends and colleagues. To help focus our thinking, the project team is creating some personas, representing users in specific scenarios: do people who search the catalogue on their tablet or phone have a different experience from people sitting at a PC or standing at a terminal? What about the people who find and access Library e-resources without ever searching the catalogue? What can we learn from Google Scholar about how to design an intuitive interface?

New location maps tell you the floor and the zone for each item.
We've already launched several new features this year, including predictive text in the Search box, and an improved location map for each item in your search results.

Keep following this blog for further news about streamlined screen layouts and more flexible searching for YorSearch, developed on the basis of your feedback and evidence.

Kirstyn Radford

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