Make the Most of Data Analyzation to Improve Library Website UX

Meng Qu is a Web Service Librarian in Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) since October 2018. She gained her M.A. in Library and Information Studies from University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2018. As a computer-technology fanatic, Meng keeps sharpening her skills on website UI & UX development and assisting with data analyzation and data visualization in her daily work. In a recent project to build a new university library’s website, she took the lead in designing the appearance of the website and conducted usability research. Meng’s research interests are website design and development, data analyzation and visualization, and GIS/indoor navigation pathfinding systems.
The Web Service Team in Miami University Libraries has conducted a series of user behavior and demographics data collecting. The scripts are generated in Google Analytics and, and be embedded in the university library websites. This action is under the approval of Human Subject Research Department from the university; and no personal-identified data is recorded.

The intention of collecting user data is simple: the website developers want to have better understanding of our users, in a more objective way; and to adjust the elements in presenting a more attractive, convenient, and human-friendly website. User Experience (UX) is the professional and concise term to express such process.

In this research, a large range of user behavior data have been collected, such as user stickiness, user activities, user events, page traffic, events flow, just name a few. Through the dataset, the developers were able to tell the preferences and trends from users, and to make adjustments. For example, we have noticed an increasing view on the Special Collections webpage during an event of that department. To provide faster access, we chose the top five items and placed them on the library website homepage, which lead to a faster growth of page views on Special Collections. Such decisions rely on large data collections and dataset analyzations, and result to better user experiences.

An other benefit of applying data analyzation mechanism on library UX development is that, realizing the trend in our user and adapt with the trend. For instance, our data shown there is an increasing raise of mobile and tablet usage among the users in the recent 12 month. Then we have realized the responsive design of the website needs adjustments to fit on that special needs. Not only the size and resolutions have been adjusted, but the layouts and functions have been optimized: for instance, we put more functions on the bottom 1/3 of the screen in mobile resolutions because of the different using habits between mobile and desktop users. Rely on data analyzation, we website developers could accurately tell what the users need, and how they approached to their goals. It is a benefit of online services and a new trend in the library field.

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