Discussion: Web Site Vocabulary

ACRL/NY User Experience Discussion Group

Date: March 23, 2011

Time: 6:30-8:30

Place: CUNY Graduate Center

Co-Chairs: Mark Aaron Polger and Albert Tablante

Minutes of the meeting: Albert Tablante

Present: Loretta Merlo, Mike Handis, Judi Zupnick, Wendy Chu, Yvonne Palmer, Shirley Zhao, Alison Loto, Gina Levitan, Stefanie Havelka, Karen Erani, Albert Tablante, Mark Aaron Polger

  1. Student preferences to language on library web sites :  jargon or plain language ?

The group discussed the verbiage on library web sites. One such examples was: should the wording in the OPAC be changed from Library Catalog to “Find Books”.  Students and librarians think differently.  Some members felt that library websites should accommodate the user, which in this case are the students.  That being the case, the terminology should be in common language that would make the user experience more effective and efficient.   Other points of view included: not dumbing down the terms used.  It can be argued that by changing the verbiage to plain language, the information might be dummed down.   Some felt that some library terms should not be oversimplified while some words could be changed to plain language for ease of use. It was also discussed that developing a glossary on the library’s web site could help with explaining difficult terms.

  1. The overall user experience of a library web site.


The library web site may be the 1st and only impression some students have of the library.  Millennials or digital natives are not as technically savvy as they think they are.  The language needs to be consistent on library links.  It helps if the overall visual look is consistent as well.  This can be a challenge because of some library websites are developed using different software leading to inconsistent visual images.  Breadcrumbs can help users in navigating library web pages.  By leaving a trail, the user can retrace steps if they are lost.

  •   Usability of non library web pages.

We discussed the usability of Lexis Nexis and other sites such as Noodletools.com.  We also discussed the usability of web sites when we provide Library instruction. We discussed hoax web sites which have good design but the content is false.   Some examples discussed were : would be http://www.ding.net/bonsaikitten/, http://MartinLutherKing.org, http://manhattanairport.org  and http://malepregnancy.org .  These web sites are useful in demonstrating to students that savvy and slick web sites are often false.

  1. User experience of students relating to “library signage.” 


Some members said that there are too many signs in their libraries.  The signs are not consistent in their messages and visual “look”.  This makes the library user un-friendly. One member mentioned that book stores are a good model for comparison.

  1. The importance of “branding”

Branding relates with many of the themes in this meeting: consistent images, logos, terminology and messages. These help to create a more positive user experience.  Inconsistency in web design and language adds to user frustration and confusion.

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