Posts by Robyn Ness

New Finding Aids Site Coming in Early 2023

Screen capture of the home page of the new Finding Aids site with call to action text Find Archival Materials above a search box and next to a featured image of a Jell-O dessert advertisement from the Culinary Ephemera collection.

U-M Library is launching a new version of our Finding Aids site in early 2023, replacing a homegrown system that’s been in use for over 20 years with ArcLight, an open-source system widely used by academic libraries and archives. The site is currently available as a public beta for preview and will be available at the same URL going forward.

Exploratory Research After Launch: Interviewing Users About Library Search

Word cloud of interview themes, such as results relevance, filtering, record display, call number, course reserves, advanced search, Boolean queries, etc.

U-M Library’s Library Search launched in 2018 as a unified search engine application containing five previously distinct interfaces: Catalog, Articles, Databases, Online Journals, and Library Websites. Library Search was a big change for users, and an increase in user support requests suggested that further exploration was needed to pinpoint user pain points. The authors began an exploratory study that helped understand users’ experiences and identified areas for continued work.

Personas: Practical Application for the U-M Library Website Redesign Project

Persona for undergraduate student.

The first post ("Personas: A Classic User Experience Design Technique") in this 2-part series described what personas are and, generally, how to create them. I closed with some cautions about ways personas might come out less than helpful – creating flat, overloaded, or fake (unresearched) personas. The second post presents our persona development for a specific website project.

Personas: A Classic User Experience Design Technique

Composite image of photos of individuals.

Personas are employed in user experience design work to help design teams create or improve systems, spaces, and services with targeted populations in mind. Libraries use personas as archetypes to maximize effective library user experiences. This is the first of two posts about the creation and use of personas in the U-M Library.