Guest bloggers Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas take on the challenges of usability and user experience…
We recently conducted a DIY usability and user experience workshop in Rochester, NY where one participant asked how do you avoid bias if you’re doing a study about your library. Our response: form a team of individuals with different perspectives, strengths and weaknesses. This may sound especially challenging for members of the Solo Librarians Division.
Before we go further, we want to mention that there are many related terms: people-centered design, user-centered design, usability, user experience, universal design, just to name a few. What’s important to remember is that it’s about keeping people at the center of what you do (i.e. your resources, services, processes, etc.), and when we say people, we mean both staff and patrons.
People-centered design is an iterative process. It can be used in a wide range of scenarios, including library renovation or relocation, website redesign, strategic planning, community needs assessment, introduction of a new service or process, evaluation of an existing service or process, etc.
Our interest in people-centered design started in 2008 with a Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Science course. Using various people-centered design methods, we developed and completed an assessment of a library’s self-service model. The new model, relying heavily on patron self-sufficiency, consisted of self checkout machines, payment kiosks, and return drop boxes.
Since then, we jumped on the design thinking bandwagon and have used people-centered design methods and principles in other studies, assessments and evaluations, and projects as well as conducted DIY usability and user experience workshops.
We can’t cover everything about people-centered design in one blog post, but we do want to highlight one important aspect: involving people in the process and having someone to bounce off ideas to start and tweak things along the way. As solo librarians, it can be especially challenging.
- You might be the only librarian, but chances are your library has other staff members. Bounce around ideas with your clerical staff, interns, and volunteers. (For one project, we worked with a solo librarian on a library user study. The librarian involved clerical staff in the process.)
- Don’t forget about your mentors and mentees. We see mentoring as a two-way street where both mentor and mentee are teaching, learning, and sharing from each other.
Interested in learning more about people-centered design?