Quick and Easy User Research

Box of junk
I’m working on a project to revamp the website for our Skilled Immigrant Info Centre. The project coordinator came to see me yesterday to get some ideas about content grouping and how we can best redistribute some of their more useful information.

We got stuck on the word “resources”, a meaningless library word if there ever was one. Whenever I see the word “resources” on a library website, my left eye twitches. The word is most often used as a miscellaneous catch-all category. Our intentions are good when we create headers/categories like these, but over time they just become the equivalent of your website’s junk drawer. We’re not improving findability by dumping everything into a miscellaneous container.

After a couple of minutes of discussion about my sheer hatred for the word (yes, hatred), I suggested that she try to do some quick user research the next time she met with a client. Tell them what kind of information might go in this category, and ask them what words or phrases they’d use to describe it. I also suggested that she show them examples of the content and get them to suggest the best place for it on the website.

If I had to give one piece of advice to librarians looking to incorporate more user research/UX into their work, it’s to remember that we are not our users. She and I could’ve debated the merits of the term all day, but without some user input, we aren’t really serving the needs of our patrons.

(photo by flickr user Elsie esq.)

3 thoughts on “Quick and Easy User Research”

  1. I’d love to know what you come up with. We use it along with “tools”–but you are right bout its lack of descriptiveness. However, I just don’t know how else to describe databases and online things they use to do research and access content, without using words that are even more jargon-y.

  2. I’ll be sure to report back. It may be that the patrons select ‘resources’ as well. In that case, I’d grudgingly give in.

  3. So the consensus among the users was that “Additional Materials” was the best way to classify this stuff. The problem was that for some people for whom English wasn’t their first language, “resources” didn’t have enough meaning, but “materials” did.

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