Everyone’s Invited: A Website Usability Study Involving Multiple Library Stakeholders

  • Elena Azadbakht University of Southern Mississippi
  • John Blair University of Southern Mississippi
  • Lisa Jones University of Southern Mississippi


This article describes a usability study of the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries’ website conducted in early 2016. The study involved six participants from each of four key user groups – undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and library employees – and consisted of six typical library search tasks such as finding a book and an article on a topic, locating a journal by title, and looking up hours of operation. Library employees and graduate students completed the study’s tasks most successfully, whereas undergraduate students performed fairly simple searches and relied on the Libraries’ discovery tool, Primo. The study’s results identified several problematic features that impacted each user group, including library employees. This increased internal buy-in for usability-related changes in a later website redesign. 

Author Biographies

Elena Azadbakht, University of Southern Mississippi
Health and Nursing Librarian and Assistant Professor
John Blair, University of Southern Mississippi
Web Services Coordinator
Lisa Jones, University of Southern Mississippi
Head of Finance and Information Technology


Barbara A. Blummer, “A Literature Review of Academic Library Web Page Studies,” Journal of Web Librarianship 1, no. 1 (2007): 45-64, http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J502v01n01_04.

Jody Condit Fagan, “Usability Studies of Faceted Browsing: A Literature Review,” Information Technology & Libraries 29, no. 2 (2010): 58-66, https://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/ital/article/view/3144/2758.

Judith Z. Emde, Sara E. Morris, and Monica Claassen-Wilson, “Testing an Academic Library Website for Usability with Faculty and Graduate Students,” Evidence Based Library & Information Practice 4, no. 4 (2009): 24-36, http://dx.doi.org/10.18438/B8TK7Q.

Ibid, 30.

Nancy B. Turner, “Librarians Do It Differently: Comparative Usability Testing with Students and Library Staff,” Journal of Web Librarianship 5, no. 4 (2011): 286-298, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19322909.2011.624428.

Ibid, 295.

Andrew D. Asher and Lynda M. Duke, “Searching for Answers: Student Behavior at Illinois Western University” in College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know (Chicago: American Library Association, 2012), 77-78.

Lucy Holman, “Millennial Students' Mental Models of Search: Implications for Academic Librarians and Database Developers,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 37, no. 1 (2011): 21-23, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2010.10.003.

How to Cite
Azadbakht, E., Blair, J., & Jones, L. (2017). Everyone’s Invited: A Website Usability Study Involving Multiple Library Stakeholders. Information Technology and Libraries, 36(4), 34-45. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v36i4.9959