A tale of Powerpoint woe, or, the right tool for the right job

We here in DUX – and UX folks generally – think a lot about the tools that people use to do their work. As a content strategist, for example, if someone asks me to help them create an FAQ, I will take a step back and help them consider whether an FAQ is really the best tool for the job they are trying to do (in this case, generally leading users to the information they need). In the case of the Libraries’ website, we will ask whether a particular function or piece of content belongs on the public website or whether perhaps the staff Intranet is the best tool for that job.

To be a bit silly about it, just because an HTML tag exists that can make your text bright pink doesn’t mean you should actually USE that tool, right? Unless you have a really, really good reason for doing it.

Anyway, it was with that in mind that I came across this fantastic Powerpoint presentation (three words you won’t often hear right in a row, at least not from me) – “PowerPointless: Digital slideshows are the scourge of higher education” by Rebecca Schuman. If, like me, you’ve spent more hours than you care to count sitting through Powerpoint presentations that involved huge blocks of text on the screen or the presenter’s outline, or sat there while somebody carefully read their entire presentation to you from the screen, you will read this and probably fist-pump and shout “hallelujah!” Okay, maybe you won’t do that, especially if you’re in the library. But you really should click on the link and take a look at this presentation before you create YOUR next presentation, whether you’re planning on using Powerpoint or Prezi or just a stack of notes you scribbled out on old napkins.

New databases for July

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the title, vendor, or platform has changed, from July 1-29. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides. New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month. You can also find a list of the newest resources, and those for which a trial is underway, at http://libraries.indiana.edu/electronic-resources-trials-and-new-additions.

U.S. Documents Masterfile 1774-2016 (formerly Public Documents Masterfile)
https://libraries.indiana.edu/us-documents-masterfile-1774-2016

voxgov
https://libraries.indiana.edu/voxgov

Zhongguo fang zhi ku
https://libraries.indiana.edu/zhongguo-fang-zhi-ku

New databases for June

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the title, vendor, or platform has changed, from June 1-30. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides. New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month. You can also find a list of the newest resources, and those for which a trial is underway, at http://libraries.indiana.edu/electronic-resources-trials-and-new-additions.

American History, 1493-1945
https://libraries.indiana.edu/american-history-1493-1945

Anthropological Fieldwork Online
https://libraries.indiana.edu/anthropological-fieldwork-online

BBC Shakespeare Plays
https://libraries.indiana.edu/bbc-shakespeare-plays

China: Culture and Society
https://libraries.indiana.edu/china-culture-and-society

Church Missionary Society Periodicals
https://libraries.indiana.edu/church-missionary-society-periodicals

Colonial America
https://libraries.indiana.edu/colonial-america

Confidential Print: Latin America
https://libraries.indiana.edu/confidential-print-latin-America

Confidential Print: North America, 1824-1961
https://libraries.indiana.edu/confidential-print-north-america-1824-1961

Everyday Life & Women in America
https://libraries.indiana.edu/everyday-life-women-america

Food Studies Online
https://libraries.indiana.edu/food-studies-online

Foreign Office Files for China
https://libraries.indiana.edu/foreign-office-files-china

LEF Digital Archive
https://libraries.indiana.edu/lef-digital-archive

Macmillan Cabinet Papers, 1957-1963
https://libraries.indiana.edu/macmillan-cabinet-papers-1957-1963

Meiji Japan
https://libraries.indiana.edu/meiji-japan

Migration to New Worlds
https://libraries.indiana.edu/migration-new-worlds

Nixon Years, 1969-1974
https://libraries.indiana.edu/nixon-years-1969-1974

Nutrition Care Manual
https://libraries.indiana.edu/nutrition-care-manual

People’s Daily Database
https://libraries.indiana.edu/peoples-daily-database

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice
https://libraries.indiana.edu/slavery-abolition-and-social-justice

Textile Hive
https://libraries.indiana.edu/textile-hive

Women in The National Archives
https://libraries.indiana.edu/women-national-archives

New databases for May

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the title, vendor, or platform has changed, from May 2-31. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides. New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month. You can also find a list of the newest resources, and those for which a trial is underway, at http://libraries.indiana.edu/electronic-resources-trials-and-new-additions.

Commercial Pattern Archive
https://libraries.indiana.edu/commercial-pattern-archive

ProQuest Congressional (includes ProQuest Congressional Hearings Digital Collection Part I 2016, ProQuest Congressional Research Digital Collection Part H 2016, ProQuest Serial Set 2 Digital Collection Part J 2016)
https://libraries.indiana.edu/proquest-congressional

Publishers Weekly Digital Archive
https://libraries.indiana.edu/publishers-weekly-digital-archive

Russian Dissertations Database
https://libraries.indiana.edu/russian-dissertations-database

New databases for April

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the title, vendor, or platform has changed, from April 1 – 29. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides. New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month. You can also find a list of the newest resources, and those for which a trial is underway, at http://libraries.indiana.edu/electronic-resources-trials-and-new-additions.

Daniels’ Orchestral Music Online (formerly Orchestral Music Online)
https://libraries.indiana.edu/daniels-orchestral-music-online

Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik Online
https://libraries.indiana.edu/historisches-worterbuch-der-rhetorik-online

Journal Citation Reports (formerly Journal Citation Reports Science Edition and Journal Citation Reports Social Sciences Edition)
https://libraries.indiana.edu/journal-citation-reports

SPIE Digital Library
https://libraries.indiana.edu/spie-digital-library

DUX, redux!

image showing evolution from chimpanzee to early human to modern human hunched over a computer
image credit: Esther Dyson

A story about evolution:

Once upon a time, there was a Web Team – chaired by a Web Administrator, who reported to the Library IT department. Before long, a new department was created to manage the public-facing/user-experience aspects of the Libraries’ website as well as IUCAT and a couple of other things. This was the Online Services department – a bit of a confusing name because we didn’t manage everything that could be found online with the Libraries’ name attached to it, but we certainly did focus on providing services! This mini-department (there were two of us) was part of Libraries IT.

As time went on, it became clearer that this public-facing, user-experience work belonged under the general umbrella of Public Services (now Library Academic Services). In casting about for a good, descriptive department name that also had a decent acronym, we landed on Digital User Experience – DUX for short, because “UX” is the standard acronym for User Experience. We were pretty fond of this acronym, as it gave us the opportunity to quack each other up with duck puns, give little rubber duckies wearing mortarboards to our graduating student employees, and so on. (It also gave us a teeny tiny checkpoint as we interviewed applicants for the new position of DUX department head. If they didn’t find the acronym charming or amusing, they weren’t going to be a good fit! Fortunately, we found someone who didn’t mind. 🙂 )

a giant rubber duck in a city harbor under a dramatic sky with a crowd looking on
image credit: Jerry Liu

Organizational change being what it is, and because the Libraries were trying to find ways to prioritize improvement of user experience in a larger sense, that part of our name was given over to a new department and in 2013 we became the Discovery & Research Services department. We still did all of the same things (discovery, including the UX aspects of our OneSearch@IU discovery tool, being a big part of our mission) but now we were DRS. We didn’t take the opportunity to wear white lab coats (look, I spill my coffee and my lunch a lot, okay? I don’t dare wear white to work) but we did manage to make a good pun now and then, like when a colleague messaged me to say that our CMS was giving her high blood pressure. And yes, we did make house calls!

Anyway, to make a long story short (too late?), this month we’ve had another name change. I’m very pleased to announce that we are now the Discovery & User Experience department, which means we are DUX again! We are, of course, far from the only people in the Libraries who care about and prioritize improvement of the user experience. And while we don’t manage all aspects of the Libraries’ UX (which is a pretty huge concept, including things like making the elevators work right – trust me, you don’t want us working on the elevators, but busted elevators are not a good user experience!) we do take ownership of making most of the UX that happens on people’s screens as reliable, easy, and enjoyable as possible. Our strategy – like that of anyone working in libraries – continues to evolve, but our primary mission remains the same as it has all along: to make it easier for our users to do the things they need to do.

 

Related post: Read about the history of the Libraries’ website

Conference roundup: Electronic Resources & Libraries + Designing for Digital

Earlier this month, I attended a pair of conferences – Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) + Designing for Digital (D4D) – in Austin TX.

ER&L is in its 11th year, and over that time has drawn an increasingly wide range of library attendees, from public, academic and special libraries, and from an array of job roles: electronic resources acquisitions & management folks, certainly, but also other technical services staff as well as public services librarians of all sorts including reference, collections, technology and user experience.

Designing for Digital started as a response to the growing interest in user experience programming at the ER&L conference and has now been an event in its own right for three years.

These are great conferences, with an excellent balance between focused programming and just enough new/different stuff to let you expand and explore a little bit; and the numbers are much more manageable than the larger conferences like ALA, so it allows for great connection-making with other like-minded folks. They also do some scholarship programs, so if this is something of interest put it on your radar for next year. Can I also mention the amazing wifi, coffee and snacks … just sayin’.

One very cool thing I’d like to highlight is that all of the keynote sessions for both conferences were livestreamed and are now archived and freely available at the conference schedule sites (or you can find the links in my posts below). All of the keynote talks were by industry leaders and each was really worthwhile for some new info and inspiration: Dawna Ballard, S. Craig Watkins, Jesse James Garrett (!), Michelle Ha Tucker (formerly of IDEO). Have a look!

My big three takeaways from these conferences:

  • Content matters, a lot. People read or don’t read our web sites based on how we structure and present the content. Let’s write so they read it.
  • “If you build it they will come” only works for ball fields in the movies. General rejection of this approach to library service or application development – go to the users, talk with them, build to bridge gaps and enhance strengths.
  • Productive collaborations across libraries are going to be key in building the kind of services and tools our users need in the future, at the scale at which they’ll need them.

I wrote up some observations on the content of each conference on my own blog, so feel free to have a look at those posts for more info:

New databases for March

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the title, vendor, or platform has changed, from March 1-31. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides. New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month. You can also find a list of the newest resources, and those for which a trial is underway, at http://libraries.indiana.edu/electronic-resources-trials-and-new-additions.

AskArt
https://libraries.indiana.edu/askart

Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall
https://libraries.indiana.edu/berliner-philharmoniker-digital-concert-hall

Chosun Ilbo Archive
https://libraries.indiana.edu/chosun-ilbo-archive

International African Bibliography Online
https://libraries.indiana.edu/international-african-bibliography-online

KISS: Korean Studies Information Service System
https://libraries.indiana.edu/kiss-korean-studies-information-service-system

LearnTechLib (formerly EdITLib)
https://libraries.indiana.edu/learntechlib

Oxford African American Studies Center
https://libraries.indiana.edu/oxford-african-american-studies-center

ProQuest Criminal Justice (formerly Criminal Justice Periodicals Index)
https://libraries.indiana.edu/proquest-criminal-justice

Social Sciences Full Text
https://libraries.indiana.edu/social-sciences-full-text

Social Sciences Index Retrospective
https://libraries.indiana.edu/social-sciences-index-retrospective

SRDS: Standard Rate & Data Service
https://libraries.indiana.edu/srds-standard-rate-data-service

Creating the Right Title for a Web Page

Choosing the right title is a crucial factor in helping people find and understand the content you create on the website. This applies to all content on the Libraries’ website including:

  • basic pages
  • subject posts
  • subject concentrations
  • news and events
  • PDF files

The title is used in several ways, particularly for generating the URL and for determining how your content will appear in search results (both within the Libraries’ website and in external search engines like Google).

Page URL:

Drupal automatically uses your page title to create the URL, omitting any punctuation included in the title and inserting hyphens between words. For example:

You will notice that if the page title is very long, the URL is also very long. For frequently-cited pages (for example, if the URL will be used as part of a publicity campaign, or if it is likely to be given over the phone), we recommend using a short page title, so the URL will be short as well. If that’s not possible, DRS can create an alternative URL upon request. For example, the Herman B Wells Library has the URL http://libraries.indiana.edu/wells.

If multiple items have the same title, Drupal will automatically append numbers so that the URL is unique. For example, we currently have the following on our site:

If you create a new item (page, concentration, etc.) and notice that Drupal has appended a number to your URL, you should reconsider your title!

When a URL is changed, Drupal automatically creates a redirect so that if a user has a link or bookmark to the old URL, they will be sent directly to the new one. In the Wells example above, the URL http://libraries.indiana.edu/herman-b-wells-library will still work. So don’t hesitate to edit your page title.

(NOTE: If you change your title and then change it back to the original, you will create an “infinite loop” in which the site redirects to the old title, then back to the new one, which redirects to the old one, and so on. If you are logged into the site, you will see an error message to this effect. Users who are not logged in will get an “access denied” error. If this happens, contact DRS – libweb@indiana.edu – and we can fix it.)

If you have an item for which the auto-generated URL has a number at the end, and you’ve determined that there is no longer another page with the same title – if the other page(s) have been deleted – DRS can edit the URL to remove the number upon request. A redirect will be created so that anyone who has the numbered URL linked or bookmarked won’t be left behind.

Search Results:

Title is a critical element in helping your users understand their search results and find the content that will be most helpful to them. This is especially important for subject concentrations, which do not include any descriptive summary within search results:

screenshot of website search results for "history"

“European History” gives the user a clue as to whether this link will be useful to them or not; the ones just titled “History” are a mystery until one actually clicks on them. Similarly, a concentration title of “Food” would suggest that this might be where you can find information about food availability in the libraries; “Food Studies” is much more descriptive. (Although search results are labeled with their content type, e.g. “Basic Page” or “Concentration,” these may go unnoticed or may not be meaningful to some users.)

Your title should give some context for your content. When users find your page via search, they do not have the additional context of your subject guide or division landing page to help them understand what they are looking at – they won’t know what department, unit, or subject your content refers to, so they may think it pertains to the Libraries as a whole. What does your content specifically pertain to? What is the page about? Who is it intended for?

“How to Find Science E-books” – NOT “E-books”

“Upcoming Events in the Wells Library” – NOT “Library Events”

“Contact the Discovery & Research Services Dept” – NOT “Contact Us”

Note: Titles that are too long may be truncated in search results, so keep your titles reasonably concise and put the most important keywords early in the title if possible. A maximum of 65 characters is a good goal. Subject concentration titles should be shorter – aim for four or five words at most if possible.

Additional Reading:

“Introducing Your Content: Page Titles and Headings” – Rick Allen http://meetcontent.com/blog/introducing-content-page-titles-headings/

This is an excellent, thorough overview of things to think about when creating page titles, with a higher ed focus and some helpful examples.

 

New databases for February

The following list represents new subscription databases added to the A-Z list of Resources, as well as those for which the title, vendor, or platform has changed, from February 1-29. You may wish to add one or more of these to your subject guides. New databases will be posted to reDUX at the end of each month. You can also find a list of the newest resources, and those for which a trial is underway, at http://libraries.indiana.edu/electronic-resources-trials-and-new-additions.

Oxford Bibliographies Online: Medieval Studies
https://libraries.indiana.edu/oxford-bibliographies-online-medieval-studies

PsycBOOKS
https://libraries.indiana.edu/psycbooks

PsycTESTS
https://libraries.indiana.edu/psyctests

RDA Toolkit
https://libraries.indiana.edu/rda-toolkit

Readex AllSearch
https://libraries.indiana.edu/readex-allsearch

Social Work Reference Center
https://libraries.indiana.edu/social-work-reference-center

U.S. Declassified Documents Online (formerly Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS) )
https://libraries.indiana.edu/us-declassified-documents-online