Forming a holistic User Experience

For many people, when they first hear that I am the User Experience librarian, they think, oh, she does usability. Or, oh, she is like Steven Bell, and she is interested in  creating compelling experiences and designing great customer service. Yes, yes, and one more!

For me, User Experience means creating a holistic picture for the user from these three components:

1)Librarians and IT doing usability together. No more silos. And no more not doing usability testing before we hand a product over to users. I read Aaron Schmidt, white papers from Human Factors International, and attend webinars from the Usability Professionals’ Association. I recently started a caucus in SLA.

2)Research-based librarianship. The medical librarians have had this right for a long time. Anthropologists can lead us to a wonderful ethnographic practice in libraries.  I love Nancy Foster, Andrew Asher, and Sharon Traweek. Dr. Traweek is an anthropologist that studies scientists, and does great research.  I have done a handful of studies at my library over the past year, and am currently leading a team of 13 to interview around 25 subjects. We are looking at their flow of research, from the generation of an idea to gathering information, grant applications, evaluating information, writing, organizing, publishing/sharing/presentation, archiving, citing, and protecting intellectual content. I love looking at all of these things, and seeing how the library can work to make things amazing for our users. Or at least better.

3)Compelling experiences. Steven Bell and Brian Mathews are great. By the way, Brian’s blog has moved over the Chronicle of Higher Education. How cool is that! So, in the library, how can we create compelling experiences for our users?

So, my vision of user experience includes these three very important components–and all of them are deeply needed to work together to gather information, and offer results for our users, in a very compelling holistic way.

About effervescentlibrarian

UX Librarian at Rice University, Houston, Texas.
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One Response to Forming a holistic User Experience

  1. StevenB says:

    I agree that all three are important to a holistic library UX – and they must fit together. You can’t have a total UX without a robust IT infrastructure. It must work. Users get tremendously frustrated when systems fail or are too confusing. If you don’t know who your users are and you don’t understand them – how can you design an environment to facilitate an experience for them. And yes, it should be different, memorable and create loyalty. What would I add (you didn’t ask, but…) – be a student of user experience. I like that you mention who you are following and the associations you have joined. There are lots of other resources, such as blogs from Adaptive Path, Don Norman (core 77) and loads of others who we can learn about UX from. Ok – one other – which we’ve discussed. To form a holistic UX, you must have the staff involved and participating in the development and design of the UX. If they don’t understand it or support it – it won’t work.

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