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Library launches revamped Web site

Becky Hogan | Friday, January 16, 2009

The Hesburgh Libraries Web site has been reformatted to allow for more user-friendly access, according to digital access librarian Thomas Lehman, with a less-cluttered interface and improved search capabilities.

“We were charged with doing user-centered design because the Web site is there to provide access to services and resources to support teaching and research that go on at the University,” he said.

The Web site renovation project began with the formation of the Web Presence Improvement Team in 2005.

The latest renovation to the Web site took approximately two years to complete since the Web site’s first renovation in 2003.

“The library had redesigned its Web site back in 2003, and that was the second generation [of the site] … We had started to accumulate a few electronic resources just as a basic list,” he said. “It met our needs for a while but as we got more electronic resources and format, [the Web site] eventually became cluttered.”

Lehman said that responses to the site’s new format have been positive.

“We put a feedback link on the site, and the vast majority of the comments have been very positive. People were enthusiastic,” Lehman said.

Lehman said that the committee conducted tests to see whether the old version of the Web site was meeting research needs. The committee asked faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students who participated in the tests to find various resources located throughout the Web site.

“We found that experienced researchers were typically able to find what we asked them to during the tests, but less experiences researchers such as undergrads had some real difficulties,” he said. “We decided that a redesign was needed.”

According to Lehman, the committee redesigned the Web site so that it would be less cluttered and would emphasize search capabilities.

He said the committee found that more people who use the resources located on the library’s Web site are “search dominant” users meaning that they would rather type key phrases into a search box than browse through lists of material to find information.

“We decided we really needed to emphasize ‘search,’ so we have a search box right in the middle of the page which allows you to search for different resources,” he said.

He also said that the committee worked to ensure that the information contained on the Web site was organized more clearly.

“We know that people find information in different ways … We tried to do the best job we could so that links and resources are organized in the most logical way possible,” Lehman said.

The Web Presence Improvement Team gave the Notre Dame Web Group specifications on what improvements should be made to the site.

“They came up with several designs and we chose one of them, and then we spent of a lot of time converting information,” he said. “There was a lot of information on the Web site so the conversion took longer than we expected.”

Lehman also said that the committee used information gathered from student surveys to help them understand what improvements the Web site’s users wanted.