MLibrary User Experience Department

I’m happy to announce that the University of Michigan Library is in the process of creating a new User Experience (UX) Department. I will be transitioning from my current position as Interface & User Testing Specialist for the Digital Library Department to the head of this new department. This new department will focus on interface design, mobile design and development, usability testing, user research, web use statistics, and accessibility. I have a million ideas for projects for this new department but right now I’m focused on hiring 2 really awesome people to join our team.

User Experience Specialist
We are looking for someone with a passion for user research, the ability to create engaging designs, and an investment in improving the library users’ web experience. The UX Specialist will help drive interface development through an iterative usability and design process.

User Experience Mobile Developer
(job id= 38884)
We are looking for someone with experience developing mobile interfaces, knowledge of related mobile design principles, techniques, and platforms.

What to do with an old card catalog

This is a follow-up to my last post.

From the Ann news article:

Next stop for the majority of the card catalogs is U-M Property Disposition on North Campus, where the university will attempt to sell the old catalogs one by one. Courant said he isn’t quite sure who is in the market for these pieces of library nostalgia. But, he added, “if I had the room in my house, I’d buy one.”

I’d also love to have one but I don’t have any room in my tiny little house. I don’t think they’ll have any trouble selling these lovely card catalogs, library chic is all the rage these days – as evidenced by Etsy’s Circulate and Renew Spotlight post and the quantity of Apartment Therapy card catalog posts.

Here’s my favorite:

NCSU Library Mobile

NCSU recently launched a new mobile website – and it’s very impressive!

It offers standard features like catalog search, locations & hours, etc., but also allows you to view a map of where available computers are and webcams of the libraries including the line at the coffee shop. Love it.

NCSU Library mobile NCSU Library mobile

Read about the interface:
View a demo of the site:

They also made a fun video to promote it:

Take a deep breath and welcome the class of 2012

It’s that time of the year again – to take a minute and think about our incoming college freshmen!

They were born in 1990/1991! As a genX kid I’m most astonished by the fact that the baby from Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover is one of them.

Here are some technology related highlights from the Berloit College Mindset List for the incoming class of 2012:

The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are “wired” and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.

  • GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
  • Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
  • Films have never been X rated, only NC-17.
  • Students have always been “Rocking the Vote.”
  • IBM has never made typewriters.
  • They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
  • Caller ID has always been available on phones.
  • They never heard an attendant ask “Want me to check under the hood?”
  • Windows 3.0 operating system made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.

Nielsen’s Mobile Usability Study

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen released a study this week about mobile usability:

The result? “The mobile user experience is miserable.”

Here are some highlights:

  • The average success rate for mobile websites was 59% compared to 80% for regular sites.
  • Small screens are limiting since they have to show less at a time which results in more clicks and a heavier reliance on short term memory.
  • Input is awkward and more error prone due to more scrolling, tiny buttons and links, tiny keyboards, etc.
  • Connections are still slow.
  • Sites that have a mobile specific interface have a higher success rate (64%) compared to regular sites (53%).
  • If a site has a mobile version, make it easy to find. Best technique is to auto-sense users’ devices and auto-forward mobile users to the mobile site. Additionally, make sure to include links to “mobile site” and “full site” to allow users to switch.
  • Touch-screen phones perform better.

2 New mobile library interfaces

NYPL Mobile

Congrats to NYPL for the beta release of a fantastic NYPL mobile website!

They call it a “very rough beta” but I didn’t see anything rough about it. Not only does it do a great job in providing key information (browse events, contact information, library locations, hours, & directions) in an easily navigable way but it also has a mobile-friendly way to begin a search of the collections (they’re still working on making all of their catalogs mobile-friendly). I particularly like that they managed to include branding and style that is consistent with the rest of their web presence… just because something is scaled down doesn’t mean it can’t have style.

NYPL mobile website

See the NYPL Labs blog post by Michael Lascarides for more information about the interface and some of the work that went into it.

DCPL iPhone app

I’m also late in congratulating the DCPL on their cool Catalog iPhone application. You can read more about it at Aaron Schmidt’s walking paper blog and the DCPL Labs iphone page.

DCPL iphone app

See also my flickr collection of mobile library interfaces.

2009 Horizon Report – Mobile Technology

The latest Horizon Report has just been released.

The annual Horizon Report describes the continuing work of the New Media Consortium (NMC)’s Horizon Project, a long-running qualitative research project that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations.

I always enjoy reading these reports but I found this one especially in sync with my current interest and work concerning mobile technologies. The report lists mobile technology as one of the technologies that will become much more integrated into learning environments within the next year. It’s not new news that mobile devices are ubiquitous on campus and beyond, but with the recent improvements in the technology (faster networks, GPS, integration of more multi-functionality), we will likely seen more and more mobile-friendly websites and services specifically designed for mobile users.

About the project | CommentPress version | PDF