Join a small but mighty department of deeply committed UX professionals!
Provide user experience design services to the Libraries’ content management systems and key technology-based projects. Work with stakeholders across IU Bloomington Libraries’ departments to understand requirements and design web-based user interfaces, mobile user interfaces, and online visual elements to support delivery of library services to faculty, staff, students, and other customers through the library website, blogs, research guides, and other platforms. Conduct user research, accessibility evaluations (FAE, WAVE), and run web analytics reports and other user experience work for the department as needed.
Bachelor’s degree in a user experience discipline (human-computer interaction design, interaction design, etc.) or related field and two years of experience in interface and visual design (as demonstrated by a portfolio) or a related professional position.
Combinations of education and related experience may be considered.
Knowledge of and experience with academic libraries or higher education work environments. Experience with Drupal, WordPress, Blacklight or other comparable open source CMS / discovery layer applications.
Working Conditions / Demands
Physical demands will be limited to moving computing equipment, running cables between equipment, and operating computers of various types. Most duties of this position will involve use of computers for long periods of time and require good mental concentration.
This is a collaborative post written by Jaci Wilkinson, Head, Discovery and User Experience (DUX), and Alexis Guilbault, the Web Content Assistant in DUX.
Accessibility is a critical component of equitable, usable web content creation. There are many steps people who manage websites, social media accounts, and blogs can take to structure content for the benefit of all readers. Creators need to ensure their content is compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers that “speak” webpages and other online information to blind readers.
In late April 2019, the DUX department audited 47 posts from IU Libraries blogs and assessed the use of three key accessibility practices. This post highlight the results and explains these three practices:
embedding videos with closed captioning,
strategizing content organization with heading tags, and
providing descriptive captions and/or alternative text for images.
As a result of this review, we’re rolling out definitive guidelines in these three areas that we ask blog creators to follow for content created in WordPress moving forward.
Videos and closed captioning
Closed captions provide text and additional interpretive information for viewers who are hearing impaired and are also helpful to viewers who do not speak English.
While only 6 of the 47 IU Libraries blog posts had videos, 2 of the 6 did not have closed captioning available. Embedded videos need closed captioning available in the video player.
How to make embedded videos accessible
First, only embed videos that have closed captioning available. Check if a video has closed captioning by checking the “CC” button in the video player. If you make your own video and upload it to YouTube (0r another service like Vimeo), be sure to add closed captions.
For now, we cannot auto-enable closed captioning on WordPress. However, if you upload your own video to YouTube, you can auto-enable closed captioning through the Video Manager.
Content organization is critical to any work on the web, and headings play a central role in how users with and without screen readers engage with our work. Skimming is made possible for all users when headings with heading tags are used. A heading tag is a small piece of HTML code that differentiates headings and sub-headings from the rest of your content and give your blog post structure.
Screen readers preview headings with heading tags at the start of each article, ignoring text that is bolded or a larger font size. Thus, with the use of heading tags, more users are able to preview content and skim sections.
For example, look at the structure of this post. It is made more readable by use of two heading sizes. Each of the three practices we’re highlighting in this post starts with an explanation section. Then, a smaller heading distinguishes the “How to” portion of each practice.
On IU Libraries blogs, only 6 of the 47 blogs used headings. Only 2 posts using heading tags, and the other 4 bolded the text to make it appear like a heading. Headings are important to insert as signposts for readers and should indicate what a paragraph or as section is about. As mentioned above, they also facilitate skimming, allowing a user to get to the content they are looking for as efficiently as possible.
How to insert heading tags
To insert heading tags, first select the text you want to make a heading. Then, click on the drop-down menu with “Paragraph,” and select the numerical heading tag you want to add. This will add the heading tags to your post. You can see them in the “Text” tab, next to “Visual” in the GIF below. For example, for the heading below, the code would read <h2> Hello world. </h2>.
There are six sizes of heading tags, beginning with <h1>and ending with <h6>. H1 is usually reserved for blog titles. H2 tags are used to create sections within your blog post, and H3 tags allow for easier navigation within those sections. You use heading tags in numerical order. For example, you would use H4 for creating sub sections under a section that was headed with H3.
Alternative text and captions
Alt text, or alternative text, allows screen-reading tools to describe images for users with visual impairments. Web content creators must add descriptive, useful alt text when uploading images for blog posts. Descriptive captions can take the place of alt text. Images that are mostly text, like an infographic or a poem, should include a “text version” for screen readers within the body of the blog post.
30 out of the 47 IU Libraries blogs consulted (64%) had issues with image accessibility. Some posts did not have any descriptions of images for screen readers, while some had vague captions that did not accurately communicate what is pictured.
How to add alt text and captions
To add alternative text to images or GIFS, like the one included above, click on the media you have added to your post and select the pencil or “Edit” button. Here, you will be able to add alternative text and/or a caption.
Remember that captions and alt text should not repeat information directly from the text, but, instead, should describe what the image is and what the viewer is able to see. For example, let’s say we wrote a post about the legacy of the Bloomington-classic Breaking Away. We might include this image of the movie poster.
This caption describes what the image is, a movie poster, while indicating it is for the movie we are writing about, the year it was made, and the source of the image; however, it doesn’t describe what is in the image itself. To make this a better “descriptive” caption, we could add this in the alt text: “Breaking Away Movie Poster from 1979 courtesy IMDb. The poster depicts four young men sitting on a grassy hill with the quote ‘The movie that tells you exactly what you can do with your high school diploma’ above them in the sky.” This caption describes what the image is and gives the reader a sense of what the poster looks like.
A note on WHO authors blog posts
Student work is critical to the services and resources we provide. A student worker primarily wrote this blog post! But unfortunately, our blog audit showed that many posts written by students or temporary employees were less accessible than other posts. Please educate all blog creators about how to create accessible content. (Hint: this post is a great way to do it!) This is a skill they can tout in their next job interview.
Accessibility is usability
By ensuring embedded videos have closed captioning, organizing blog posts with headings, and providing alternative text or descriptive captions for images, we can make IU Libraries Blogs more usable for all viewers. At some point, the practices outlined here will likely be compiled into a larger accessibility policy or practices document that will cover more than just library blogs. If or when that happens, this post will be updated to provide links to any new documentation.
If you have questions about the methods featured here or want to learn about other ways to make your web content more accessible, email DUX department head, Jaci Wilkinson, at wilkinj @ iu . edu. She also welcomes your feedback about these guidelines.
Over winter break I was staying in Lévis, Canada and desperately needed some food since my Airbnb had an overabundance of essential oils, but no actual food for human consumption. When I got to the nearest grocery store, and went to the front to check out, the cashier started speaking in French. This makes sense as French is the preferred language of Quebec. I, however, do not speak French, except to say the phrase, “hi, I do not speak French.” A long standing tradition on my ventures nationally and internationally is telling the least amount of people that I am a tourist.
What does any of this have to do with content inventories and audits? While I was running a content inventory on a website recently, I ran into a similar situation. I was lost but as per usual I did not want to admit to being lost. I found myself in a similar situation as the one I was in in that grocery store in Canada. I was a tourist in an environment that I did not speak the language or know my way around.
After reading through an article by Lisa Maria Martin, called What to Ask Before You Audit, I found that I was approaching the inventory incorrectly. I did not realize that I was actually running a content inventory, not an audit. Instead of beginning the auditing process through the lens of the website’s stakeholders, I was viewing it as a seemingly omniscient outsider. I was not a native of the environment that composed the content of this website, and instead of admitting to being an outsider, I came in expecting to understand the motivations behind the content on the website and the different reasons for why it might be there.
After reading through this article by Lisa Maria Martin, and talking through the content with a few people, I realized it was time to admit I was a tourist in someone else’s website. I read through Martin’s article and understood that I needed to reevaluate the way that I was approaching this inventory and then later on the audit. This article has helpful pointers on where to begin even if you are a seasoned auditor or someone that has never ran a content audit before. It explains the differences between a content audit and an inventory, which are actually two completely different terms. This article helps to figure out the “why” behind the reason for running content inventories and audits. Once you admit to being an outsider in an environment that you are unfamiliar with, you can then proceed with navigating more successfully through the content in ordered to get to the questions that you need to ask before beginning a content audit.
After figuring out why you are auditing a website, you can proceed to the next step in the process. This step considers what you are actually auditing. If you do not know what you are auditing or what the audit is going to be used for, this will not take you very far in an auditing process. The end goal is to figure out the “what” behind an audit. What is the purpose of this audit that you are working on? Sometimes it is helpful to write out some notes on the different sections you may want to include in your audit. Is it important that you go through every single page? Do you want to list out all of titles on the various website pages?
Asking questions about what content is important is… well, important. And it is paramount in any website evaluation to ask the stakeholders what they think, because they are the ones that are familiar with the website and its environment. Sometimes it is okay and even pertinent to ask questions when you are unfamiliar with your surroundings. Being a tourist might actually be a positive label to have in certain instances.
Everyone knows the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. In his two Ted Talks, book designer Chip Kidd, the associate art director at Knopf, gives us a compelling reason to do so. These talks will make you think, make you laugh, make you want to read, and finally will make you look at all design in an entirely different light.
In the 2012 talk titled Designing books is no laughing matter. Okay, it is, Kidd describes the thought process that goes into creating book covers. He focuses on the importance of imagery, first impressions, and how book cover design influences the way you as the reader will perceive the story.
With his 2015 talk The art of first impressions — in design and life, Kidd gives the listeners an important lesson. That first impressions matter and our design choices (even the ones most of us never even think to notice) have an impact on how we see the world around us. He shows us how good design can grab your attention and the wrong design can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Earlier this week, we released an update for our Serials Solutions E-Journal Portal and IU-Link services. In addition to refreshing and rebranding the interface to reflect updated IU brand standards & the library website design, you’ll notice that both these platforms are now responsive and mobile friendly.
Other improvements include:
Search by DOI/PubMed ID
Journal browse now includes Medical Subjects
Results listings note peer-reviewed and open access titles, include cover images (where available)
The IU-Link citation pages share the newly updated header and footer.
I’ve picked a few from the list to highlight in brief, but I recommend you take a few minutes & have a look at the full article. What’s interesting to me is that although this is a list about design problems, at its most basic level it’s a list of content problems: where is the content, what words do we use for labels, repetitive content, siloed content, circuitious content.
Unexpected Locations for Content
“When the site structure doesn’t match the users’ mental models of how information should be organized, people are unable to locate what they need.”
I think libraries have been having this conversation on and off for some time. Where does it make sense for us to integrate search or design elements that are commonly experienced in the commercial web? If we can’t, or don’t feel we should, how do we build bridges and provide the necessary information and context?
Competing Links and Categories
“When users can’t clearly distinguish between similar navigational categories or links, they struggle to find the right path to content… If multiple sections or pages could address a specific information need, users must explore each or make their best guess.”
This is why Anne & I send so many polite little notes about small tweaks we’ve made to page titles, and why we encourage you to search within our own site as you are creating new content to see what content already exists & to be able to write unique and informational page/news/event titles.
Islands of Information
“Some sites offer small bits of information scattered around the site, with little or no connection between them. When users find one such island of information without links to other related information, they have no reason to think that another area of the site offers supplementary material… Consider why information is scattered throughout the site, consolidate it as appropriate, and pick the best spot for it.”
We’ve made great strides toward this kind of positive consolidation since we migrated to Drupal in 2014 – we migrated approximately 8500 pages and right now we have about 900 basic pages (plus resources, news/exhibits/events items, subject posts, user profile pages, etc). Across all our content types I estimate that we have approximately 2500 ‘objects’ right now, so that means we’ve made good progress toward pruning and updating our site.
“Even if users can determine the right site location for their information needs, they can still be stymied by unexpected or lengthy workflows. Users should get closer to the information goal as they click through pages. Teams sometimes build pages in isolation and do not consider the route to the content they’ve created.”
The example used in the article was of the NYC.gov site: “Users were frustrated when they selected a link labeled Find a Firehouse only to have to select the differently spelled Find a fire house link on the next page.” Oof. Yes, we do this too, and we are ever on the lookout for this sort of thing. And let’s not even talk about how many clicks it can take to finally get to the full text.
That’s it for now, folks! TGIF and all that stuff. Until next time …
We all have goals. Write that book, run that marathon, build a better mousetrap … start a book club with an umlaut in the title.
Actually, it didn’t have to be a book club. I just LOVE umlauts, and some tiny part of me has been waiting for the chance to shoehorn one into some professional endeavor for years. Lucky you, that time has come!
We’re starting a book club, and we’re calling it DUX BÜX (ahem, that’s ducks boooks, please say it with feeling). We hope you’ll join us. Below, find the brief blurb we’ve shared in our staff newsletter.
I think you’ll really enjoy this book – I know we have. It’s pithy, it’s useful, and, let’s be honest: it has gigantic type and lots of pictures. So there’s no excuse for not showing up having read the first chapter next week.
User experience (UX) encompasses everything related to how people experience the library: how easy it is (or isn’t) to find what you need on the website, signage, customer service, how books are shelved, you name it. Let’s talk about this! To encourage discussion of UX issues throughout the Libraries, DUX is starting a book club, open to all librarians and staff.
Our first book will be How To Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert – freely available online and relatively inexpensive to purchase in print format. (We’ll also have a ‘reserve’ copy – ask us directly at our usual email) This highly readable book will help you understand the field of information architecture, and how to clean up just about any kind of “mess”– whether it’s a hopeless file drawer, a cluttered kitchen, a terrifying tenure dossier, or a website.
Join us monthly for a lively discussion. You bring thoughts and questions, we’ll bring snacks! All meetings are from 12-1p.
September 27th: Chapter 1
October 18th: Chapters 2 & 3
November 15th: Chapters 4 & 5
December 6th: Chapters 6 & 7
Speaking of books, which as a librarian is an occupational hazard, if you’re interested in user experience, think you might be, or just want to look like you are, these two recommended reading lists from UXBooth are chock full of great content.
Can one word change user experience on your website, for better or worse? YES. Think about the labels you experience on websites – and in the non-web world – every day. Most of them are just a word or two, and yet you rely on those words to give you confidence that you know what is going to happen if you take a particular action.
A real world example that has been bugging me for years: The gas station closest to my house has instructions on the gas pumps. After you swipe your credit card, it says to “push start.” THERE IS NO “START.” NOWHERE is there anything that says “START.” There is, however, a button that says “PUSH.” Sure, I can figure out that I’m supposed to push that button, but why on earth not use the word that actually matches up to what you’re looking for? What if someone who isn’t fluent in English tries to use the gas pump? Or, for that matter, a nit-picky word-nerd? Insert “banging head against wall” emoji here. (The more you learn about UX, the more stuff like this drives you crazy… it ain’t pretty, folks.) A good rule of thumb, by the way, is to use a label that relates to “what’s going to happen if you take this action” as opposed to “the method by which you take the action” – “submit request” is a much better label for a button on your website than “click.” (If your user is submitting a request, that is.)
And speaking of “start,” did anyone else attempt to do tech support for less computer-literate coworkers or relatives in the days of Windows 95? “Okay, now to shut down your computer, click the Start button.” WHO COMES UP WITH THIS? THIS DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE! “To stop the thing, click on the thing that starts the thing.” WHAT. And then, when Microsoft did away with the “Start” label and just offered a round buttony thing that does all the things, everyone still called it a “start button” and then they complained when it went away in later versions of Windows – but that’s another story.
On a more local note, a few years ago our department did a little bit of lightweight user testing on some website labels we were considering. We were about to roll out new-and-improved subject pages that would include lists of databases, and we were trying to decide what to call a short list of databases that were the most generally useful within a subject. Start here? Best bets? Core databases? Research starters? Be like Google and call it “I’m feeling lucky”?
I personally thought “best bets” would be a great label. Short, snappy, suggests that you might want to try these first if you’re floundering, without necessarily tying them to a particular point within the research process (you might also find them useful when you’re in the middle of things). Boy, was I wrong. Thank goodness our user testing involved asking some international students, because “best bets” was all but meaningless to many of them. Idiom, people! Plus, who wants to be gambling if they’re using a library website, anyway? (We ended up using “Start here.”)
On a slight tangent: What even is a “database”? What do you call those things? Subscription electronic resources? Library research tools? I’ve heard students call them “specialized search engines” which is technically not accurate, but understanding how our users think about things helps us use friendlier language sometimes. The same brief user interviews that saved us from “best bets” told us that the word “resources,” within the context of a library website, more or less made sense to people. I’ve never been confident that any label we can come up with for those things will make sense to everyone… but you gotta use something. (If you work on a library website, and you’ve come up with a great label that works well for your users, let me know, eh?)
And don’t get me started on “Useful Links.” The day I retire, I’m gonna go through and change all those labels to “Useless Clicky Things,” which is just about as meaningful. …Okay, I’m not. But I’m sure gonna think about it.
More recently, as we were about to go live with a totally redesigned search box that was much more prominent on the Libraries’ home page, we had a long conversation about how to label it. We wanted something welcoming, something that would put the search box in context so you feel like you know how to use it. We thought about “What are you searching for in the library?” Well, there’s a saying that “only librarians like to search – everyone else wants to FIND.” (You know it’s true!) And we didn’t want to set a tone of “you’re going to be searching… and searching… and searching.” Eventually, and after some discussion of the relative merits of “what do you want to find” versus “what would you like to find,” we went with “What would you like to find at the library today?” And we also put “Search…” in the box for those who might be looking for that particular word out of habit.
Which brings me to a fascinating article I just read. The very smart folks who run the GOV.UK website found that pages with buttons labeled “Start now” often ended up with users going around in circles rather than clicking the “start now” button. They observed this behavior in the lab when running tests, and then reviewed usage stats to find out whether the same thing happened “in the wild.” It did, so they set about testing different labeling options, using A/B testing to weigh several options and see which performed best. You can read about their testing methods, and the results they ended up with, in “A/Bsolutely fabulous testing” on the “Inside GOV.UK” blog.
There are so many other examples of this kind of thing. Have you ever seen a confirmation dialog box pop up and been completely uncertain about which option you actually want? (“Do you really want to cancel?” with your choices being “YES” and “CANCEL” is a sad but true example.) Beth Aitman, who’s also in the UK – those wonderful UK word-nerds! – wrote a great article about how to write a confirmation dialog.
This stuff – tiny little bits of text that make a big difference – is called “microcopy.” And it matters. It’s more than just labels and buttons; think about link text – what people click on to go somewhere else. Do they know where they’re going? Does the link make sense to them? What about somebody using a screen reader to access your page – do things make sense to them? Iain Broome (another Brit, it appears!) has a fantastic piece on “How to write good hyperlinks” which I highly, highly recommend. In fact, Broome’s article will help you think through the process of writing other things on the web, not just hyperlinks – that is, if you want to write things that are accessible and understandable to your users. I hope you do.
So yes, I may sometimes spend twenty minutes deciding on the absolute best word for a particular purpose. And I may fuss at you more than you may think is warranted if you have a link that says “click here” on your web page. But this stuff matters. Microcopy is the difference between “Please come in; we’re so happy to see you!” versus “This is a door.” Choosing the right words for your website, especially in places that are crucial decision points for your users, can be the difference between “this sucks!” and “success!”
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.
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!
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: