Thursday, June 18, 2009

User Experience in Libraries...today, 10 years and beyond.

Yesterday I attended a Webinar about the Future of the Library User Experience presented by the Urban Libraries Council. The presenter was Nate Bolt. He had some good insights.

Though his presentation focused mostly on the future of an online experience, the reaction panelists talked a bit about contributions from the public services side, so there was a blend. Interestingly, there was a poll question asked about who is responsible for user experience in an organization. It was difficult to answer with just once choice, because really the user experience is dependent on all facets of the organization working together with a common vision.

Everything I'm reading pretty much matches up with what was presented. The future of experience will be that services are easier to use, easier to share, easier to customize and easier to integrate into other things people are already using. It can take libraries awhile to catch up, but we are getting there.

A few points really stood out:

  • Logic does not equal intuition.


  • This idea is not traditionally part of the thinking of librarians. The entire structure of a library depends on logic. Librarians are thinking, "How do we teach our customers to use the system?," and customers are thinking, "Why isn't someone making this system easier to use?" Nate says that by necessity libraries will need to move away from system and logic and move toward intuitive experience.

    You will know you are doing something innovative when...

  • It has been done before in a more rudimentary way.

  • It upsets people. Anyone heard anything lately about some cheese being moved?

  • It can be hard to get buy-in.


  • Finally, Nate reminded all of us (library or not) that the best way to create a user experience is to observe your users and then act based on their behavior instead of what they are saying or what you are thinking they want.

    That may be a new way of thinking, but I believe it is certainly a good one.

    2 comments:

    Reading Fun said...

    Hi, I attended this webinar also. I found it quite useful. I agree with your point, we can't expect customers to just sit down and learn a system. Most people just want results, can't say I blame them.

    Jim Brochowski said...

    I love the last point especially. It's so much easier to watch people and respond, and a whole lot easier to use that information to "sell" new things to staff instead of:

    "Well we took a survey, and phrased the questions thusly..."

    Great post.