Side by side: What a comparative usability study told Us about a web site redesign

Kirstin Dougan, Camilla Fulton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Library Web sites must compete against easy-to-use sites, such as Google Scholar, Google Books, and Wikipedia, for students' time and attention. Library Web sites must therefore be designed with aesthetics and user perceptions at the forefront. The Music and Performing Arts Library at Urbana-Champaign's Web site was overcrowded and in much need of a user-focused redesign. This article presents a usability study that compared participants' use of the old site versus the new site to determine if performance improved on the redesigned site. Participants were asked to complete library-related tasks on both the old Web site and on the redesigned Web site to determine if they could both complete more tasks and complete tasks more quickly on the new site. Participants showed a marked improvement on the new site, and their think-out-loud responses to the tasks helped further improve site design and wording. Participants were also surveyed about their perceptions of ease of use and navigation on the old and new sites, and in general, the new site was preferred by participants and seen as a great improvement. Future studies will aim to further involve students and faculty in addressing terminology and site organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-237
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Web Librarianship
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Academic library
  • Comparative usability studies
  • Library Web site
  • Redesign
  • Testing
  • Web usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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