Improving Independent Student Navigation of Complex Educational Web Sites: An Analysis of Two Navigation Design Changes in LibGuides
Can the navigation of complex research web sites be improved so that users more often find their way without intermediation or instruction? Librarians at Eastern Michigan University discovered that students were not recognizing navigational elements on web based research guides and tested possible solutions. In this study, two types of navigation improvements were applied to separate sets of online guides. Both sets of experimental guides showed an increase in use of navigation to secondary pages of the guides.
Eric A. Cooper, “Library Guides on the Web: Traditional Tenets and Internal Issues,” Computers in Libraries 17, no. 9 (1997): 52.
Barbara Dubicki Beaton, Jen Bonnet, Bill Dueber, Shevon Desai, and Julie Piacentine, LibGuides Usability Task Force Guerrilla Testing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2009), http://www.lib.umich.edu/content/libguides-guerilla-testing/.
Jenny Corbin and Sharon Karasmanis, Health Sciences Information Literacy Modules Usability Testing Report (Bundoora, Australia: La Trobe University Library, 2009), http://arrow.latrobe.edu.au:8080/vital/access/HandleResolver/1959.9/80852.
Rachel Hungerford, Lauren Ray, Christine Tawatao, and Jennifer Ward, LibGuides Usability Testing: Customizing a Product to Work for Your Users (Seattle: University of Washington Libraries, 2010), 6, http://hdl.handle.net/1773/17101.
MIT Libraries, Research Guides (LibGuides) Usability Results (Cambridge, MA: MIT Libraries, 2008), http://libstaff.mit.edu/usability/2008/libguides-summary.html; MIT Libraries, Guidelines for Staff LibGuides (Cambridge, MA: MIT Libraries, 2011), http://libguides.mit.edu/staff-guidelines/.
Jonathan W. Palmer, “Web Site Usability, Design, and Performance Metrics,” Information Systems Research 13, no. 2 (2002): 151167, doi: 10.1287/isre.18.104.22.168.
Jakob Nielsen, “Is Navigation Useful?,” Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, January 9, 2000, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000109.html.
Thomas S. Tullis, “Web-based Presentation of Information: The Top Ten Mistakes and Why They are Mistakes,” in HCI International 2005 Conference: 11th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 22-27, July 2005, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada USA (Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005), doi:10.1.1.107.9769.
Louise McGillis and Elaine G. Toms, “Usability of the Academic Library Web Site: Implications for Design,” College & Research Libraries 62, no. 4 (2001): 355-67, http://crl.acrl.org/content/62/4/355.short/.
Erica Olmsted-Hawala, Jenna Beck, Elizabeth Murphy, and Kathleen Ashenfelter, Usability Evaluation of the Business and Industry Web Site, Survey Methodology #2009-15, (Washington, D.C.: Statistical Research Division, U. S. Census Bureau, 2009), http://www.census.gov/srd/papers/pdf/ssm2009-15.pdf.
Jennifer Chen, Jenna Beck, Jennifer Romano, and Elizabeth D. Murphy, Usability Evaluation of the Governments Division Public Web Site, Survey Methodology #2010-02, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, Usability Laboratory, 2010), 19, http://www.census.gov/srd/papers/pdf/ssm2010-02.pdf.
Jan Panero Benway, “Banner Blindness: What Searching Users Notice and Do Not Notice on the World Wide Web” (PhD diss., Rice University, 1999), 75, http://hdl.handle.net/1911/19353.
Tullis, “Web-based Presentation of Information.”
Donald J. Nicolson, Peter Knapp, Peter Gardner, and David K. Raynor, “Combining Concurrent and Sequential Methods to Examine the Usability and Readability of Websites With Information About Medicines,” Journal of Mixed Methods Research 5, no. 1 (2011): 25-51, doi:10.1177/1558689810385694.
Kathryn Yelinek, Linda Neyer, Darla Bressler, Michael Coffta, and David Margolis, “Using LibGuides for an Information Literacy Tutorial 2.0,” College & Research Libraries News 71, no. 7 (July): 352-355, http://crln.acrl.org/content/71/7/352.short/.
Michael L. Bernard, “Developing Schemas for the Location of Common Web Objects,” Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 45, no. 15 (October 1, 2001): 1162, doi: 10.1177/154193120104501502.
Jean A. Pratt, Robert J. Mills, and Yongseog Kim, “The Effects of Navigational Orientation and User Experience on User Task Efficiency and Frustration Levels,” The Journal of Computer Information Systems 44, no. 4 (2004): 93-100.
John D. McCarthy, M. Angela Sasse, and Jens Riegelsberger, “Could I Have the Menu Please? An Eye Tracking Study of Design Conventions,” People and Computers 17, no. 1 (2004): 401-414.
Scott L. Jones, “Evolution of Corporate Homepages: 1996 to 2006,” Journal of Business Communication 44, no. 3 (2007): 236-257, doi: 10.1177/0021943607301348.
Lynne Cooke, “How Do Users Search Web Home Pages?” Technical Communication 55, no. 2 (2008): 185.
Luke Wroblewski, “The History of Amazon’s Tab Navigation,” LUKEW IDEATION + DESIGN, May 7, 2007, http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?178. After addition of numerous product categories made tabs impractical, Amazon now relies on a left-side navigation menu.
A. Burrell and A. C. Sodan, “Web Interface Navigation Design: Which Style of Navigation-Link Menus Do Users Prefer?” in 22nd International Conference on Data Engineering Workshops, April 2006. Proceedings (Washington, D.C.: IEEE Computer Society, 2006), 42-42, doi: 10.1109/ICDEW.2006.163.
Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd ed. (Berkeley: New Riders, 2006), 79.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Navigation,” in Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006), 8, http://www.usability.gov/pdfs/chapter7.pdf.
Jakob Nielsen,“Tabs, Used Right,” Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, September 17, 2007, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/tabs.html.
Matt Cronin, “Showcase of Well-designed Tabbed Navigation,” Smashing Magazine, April 6, 2009, http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/04/06/showcase-of-well-designed-tabbed-navigation/.
Alex Christie, “Usability Best Practice, Part 1 – Tab Navigation,” Tamar, January 13, 2010, http://blog.tamar.com/2010/01/usability-best-practice-part-1-tab-navigation/.
McCarthy, “Could I have the menu please?”
Jennifer J. Little, “Cognitive Load Theory and Library Research Guides,” Internet Reference Services Quarterly 15, no. 1 (2010): 52-63, doi: 10.1080/10875300903530199.
Hungerford et al., LibGuides Usability Testing.
Christie, “Usability Best Practice”; Nielsen,“Tabs, Used Right”; Krug, Don’t Make Me Think; Cronin, “Showcase of Well-designed Tabbed Navigation”.
Christie, “Usability Best Practice”; Nielsen. “Tabs, Used Right”.
McCarthy, “Could I Have the Menu Please?”
The LibGuides vendor Springshare has been amenable to customer feedback and open to suggestions for platform improvements.