What Are We Doing with the Website: Transition, Templates, and User Experience in One Special Collections Library

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[Excerpt] At the Eberly Family Special Collections Library (SCL), we have found that our website is often the first place a researcher will look to learn about our repository. Our online web presence is a business card, our chance to make a positive first impression. While our library, among others, has devoted time and resources to the development of new access tools and discovery layers, we have learned that our online presence also needs updates, revisions, and improvements. New tools and access points are valuable, but we can also improve existing tools even as we look forward to new developments in access and discovery. Through conscious efforts to include end users’ feedback in our website design decisions, we create more effective online tools. Our website is a crucial component of our efforts to direct users to our collections, and to publicize our services and programs. In this same vein, our end users can contribute to this design partnership through dedicated user experience testing. The SCL experimented with collaborative decision-making with its website committee, as well as with user experience testing in order to support our requests for additional web development work from the Libraries’ Information Technology department (I-Tech). Through this process, our library gained a more holistic understanding of the needs of online special collections and archives users; we also learned how to communicate more effectively between the department who worked with end users (SCL) and the department performing the actual web development work (I-Tech). While development work was limited to working within the mandatory web template, our user experience testing and the efforts of our internal website committee resulted in a better online experience for our stakeholders, based on the feedback we received from usability testing. Although our website is always a work in progress, we feel that we were able to develop practical ways to adjust to a website migration within in a dispersed and hierarchical information technology environment.

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Practical Technology for Archives
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Iss. 9
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digital archives; special collections; website design
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