While last week focused on some aspects of decision making on content, which is ultimately based on the intended use of a given digital collection or library, this week the focus shifts to the other side of the digital library: the user. This week’s readings highlight two critical facets of digital library design (and ultimately any type of product/system design) – usability and user experience.
While usability is the quality of how easy to use (or learn to use) a given object/system is, user experience (UX) refers to the experiential emotional interaction of the user with that object/system. Both of these concepts are at the core of quality design from a webpage to a smart phone. As the readings indicate, these aspects of design must also be considered by digital library developers, since if a digital library is not usable or the user has a negative interaction with the system, it may not matter how useful the material is, it simply will not be used.
Below are some questions we were interested in as we read the material and would love to hear your take on them.
- How do the authors of the articles this week define usability, usefulness and user experience? Why are these concepts important to consider?
- What are the most important factors in making a digital library user-friendly? How can they be carried out?
- What effect does a site/system’s usability have on information seeking?
- What about librarians? What role do they play in a digital library’s usability and in the overall user experience?
- Are there any examples of digital libraries / collections you have come across that meet or do not meet the usability “ideal”?
While not about digital libraries per say, this great xkcd comic does a great job at showing why thinking about usability and UX are so critical to the usefulness and ultimately success of a site/product/system.