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Patron Access to Public Library Resources

Project Type

Solo UX Research & UI Design (Class Project)

Role

Product Design, Research, Information Architecture

Duration

Two Weeks

In this project, I designed the home page and three user flows for a mock public library system, focusing on the global navigation. Using data from supplementary and primary research, I created an Information Architecture analysis that informed my final design. 

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Context

Connecting the library's many and varied resources to their community has been a struggle for library workers even pre-COVID. Now that patrons are relying more on digital access, How can libraries better connect and inform?

Component: CTA Card

Research & Analysis 

I started with a competitive analysis of other library websites. Then, I performed interviews

with library workers to learn about internal roots and previous solutions. Finally, I conducted a 

survey to learn about patrons' expectations.

Home - Community Resources (2).png

Service: check out museums passes

Findings

Competitive Research
The global navigation is what teaches patrons what they can expect from a library. It needs to strike a balance between informative and scanable, and have a mix of organizational structures.

Interviews

Many factors contribute to patrons' access to resources, not all of them digital. We can be more effective if we focus on improving existing structures rather than a new service.

Questionnaire

The things library users expect to find at a library largely fall into three categories: information, education, and community involvement. This can inform our organizational structure.

Home - Community Resources (1).png

Content & UI Design

Using the research conducted, I set out to create a website for a public library that could be easily navigated by many types of users. I narrowed my design's focus to providing a global navigation that was easy to use, informative, and adaptive to multiple styles of searching. 

Navigation: sub-categories by audience

Global Navigation: Prototypes & Testing 

Prompted by the conventions of other public library sites in North America, I gave two sets of navigation: one in the top right relating to a user's account; and the main navigation relating to the library's services and collection. 

Initial Design

I asked for feedback from peers, and on the whole the design was not well received. The purple was too strong, and the cut-edge border looked outdated. ​It was ambiguous as to what would happen when the 'search' button was pressed. 

Revised Design

My revisions included a less garish background colour. I moved the global navigation above the main content, and the search bar outside of the global navigation.

When seeking feedback for this design, I focused on the labelling of the navigation. I asked things like "Where would you go to see if your library had LinkedIn Learning access?". While some labels were very clear, people had a hard time distinguishing between Reference and eMaterials.

Final Design

For the final design, I moved the search bar back to the global navigation, and clarified the labels in the main navigation. I kept the navigation as unobtrusive as I could without making it too dense. 

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When hovered, each element expands to a submenu, to allow for audience-based organization and easier navigation.

Final Design: elements expand on hover

Design Specification

Fonts

Colours & Accessibility Contrast

Main Background #FFFFFF

High contrast colour for maximum accessibility

Navigation #F1F1F1

Gives differentiation to the global navigation 

Text #000000

High contrast for maximum accessibility

19.75:1 contrast ratio w/main background

Links, Header, Buttons #6B3B87

Strong colour for action elements

7.9:1 contrast ratio w/main background

Components

CTA Card: default state

CTA Card: hover, active state

Item Carousel: staff picks

Service: find a database

Lessons & Next Steps

I realized the need for constant feedback and iteration. I was able to quickly change problematic aspects of the design before too much was built on it, saving myself the time of potentially high-effort redesigns. 

 

I also was able to focus my efforts on one design challenge, which allowed me to dive deeper into the issues surrounding global navigation rather than spread myself too thinly on a single iteration of the design. 

I would like to continue exploring this issue as a personal project to further test and fine tune the content and structure of the global navigation, using card sorts and usability testing.

Acknowledgements

This solo project was completed in Winter 2021 as an assignment for INF2191: User Interface Design at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information, taught by Velian Pandeliev.

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