The City University of New York (CUNY), which includes Queens College, migrated from an online catalogue to a new discovery layer system, OneSearch. The shift from online catalogue (which was largely limited to print materials and e-books) to OneSearch (which searches all of our print and most of our digital resources) offers users a much more powerful and efficient way to search Queens College and CUNY materials.
While the layout and menus of the OneSearch landing page worked well out of the box, the default main body of the page required users to ponder questions, read chunks of prose, and, on the right-hand menu, included links to out-dated pages and resources. The Queens College Library User Experience Team was charged with creating a user-friendly page that quickly and easily informed users on what can and cannot be found in OneSearch and connect them with helpful resources, including librarians!
As chair of the UX Team, I led the redesign of the page, created mocked ups of draft pages, and presented our recommendations, which were later implemented with minor changes, to the Library faculty and staff.
The UX Team studied OneSearch landing pages of other CUNY schools as well as non-CUNY colleges . We found pages with more text to be less welcoming and less helpful.
Pages with icons, clear visual cues, and clean layouts clearly and quickly conveyed the information we wanted.
Drawing upon the pages we liked, we divided the main body of the page into four zones. The right-hand zone is a single box with links to Queens College library resources and librarians. The left-hand zone explains what is and is not included in OneSeach by dividing resources into three catagories (and colors): what can be found in OneSearch (green), what sometimes can be found in OneSearch (yellow), and what cannot be found in OneSearch (red). A pop-out box on the right-side of the page links users to our 24/7 online chat service for immediate help.
Library faculty and staff were enthusiastic about our proposed draft and offered useful suggestions for omitting unnecessary library links and clarifying language.
The Queens College OneSearch landing page now features a clear outline of what OneSearch covers, a pared down and well-organized list of important links for library users, and an unobtrusive link to 24/7 online chat reference.
While we have not yet done any formal user studies on this page, informal feedback from library faculty and staff as well as patrons (both faculty and students) has been overwhelmingly positive.
What I Learned
This was our first attempt to customize OneSearch, a consortial package designed to function for all 25 schools in CUNY. Our ability to customize the page was limited, partly due to the nature of programs for multiple schools and partly due to Queens College and CUNY still learning the system. The Queens College web librarian did most of the page updates and solved numerous problems, but we were unable to add a widget featuring our Twitter feed. While we hope future updates will be easier, this process was helpful in establishing protocols for the Queens College Library UX Team as well as OneSearch customizations.