Website redesign and testing with a usability consultant: Lessons learned

Robert L. Tolliver, David S. Carter, Suzanne E. Chapman, Phillip M. Edwards, Jeanie E. Fisher, Annette L. Haines, Lana E. Krolikowski, Rebecca M. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The aim of this case study is to present one library's experiences consulting with a usability expert during the design and implementation phases of a new academic library website and the lessons learned during the process. Design/methodology/approach - The library staff worked with the consultant so that he understood the work of the librarians and goals for the website. Together the consultant and library staff developed a series of tests to measure the usability of the site. The librarians implemented the tests, gradually taking the leadership role in the process. Findings - The study confirms the value of usability testing as a tool to bring to light some of the ambiguities and complexities of a library website for users. The study demonstrates that librarians have developed an expertise and knowledge base that transfers well to the evaluation of websites and online resources. The experience of the University of Michigan AAE Library reveals that usability testing should be an ongoing exercise so that the website remains relevant to the users. Practical implications - This study advises librarians of the value of testing and that, on the one hand, test results confirm what one imagines about the users' experiences, but on the other hand they reveal the unexpected strategies and understandings of the users. Originality/value - This case study provides a useful example of the value of working with a usability expert, a discussion of what to expect during the process, and advice about the role of the librarian in such an endeavor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-166
Number of pages11
JournalOCLC Systems and Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic libraries
  • Consultants
  • Content management
  • Worldwide web

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences


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