Reading Reflection: Statistics related to UX

Out of the common library statistics, I think reference questions and program attendance most highly correlate to User Experience.  It may be possible to correlate circulation statistics to UX, but it would be more difficult: one example of this would be if there was a sudden drop in circulation of a certain type of materials, there is probably something wrong with that section of the library like it’s out of date.  But one has to be careful when making assumptions like this: if it’s over a fairly short period of time, it could just be people going on vacation.

However, reference questions and program attendance can be correlated much more strongly to UX.  I’ll take a personal example of the Monterey Public Library: we have a program going on here called Stories for Adults.  I believe it’s the longest running library story telling program in the country, been going on for at least 20 years now.  It’s routinely “sold out”.  (In quotes because you can get tickets for free with a library card.)  I’ve been to a few of their story telling events, and there’s a reason for the popularity, the story tellers who come to Monterey are quite good.

Reference questions are also an excellent metric for usability.  If there’s one question (and I unfortunately don’t have an example here), that’s asked frequently about, for example, finding things in the library, it may be a sign that the library needs to invest in some good wayfinding.

If the library isn’t used much at all, there may be a more serious problem, like a design issue with the building itself.  I had this exact problem with the Meriam Library at Chico State, where I received my B.S.  I tried using the library a few times but found the layout enough that I basically only used it for the times when I needed tutoring assistance with my classes since, at the time, tutoring was on the fourth floor of the library.  Thus, I only used the online resources of the library and for pleasure reading, the city library.

This kind of problem would be non-trivial to fix since even improved wayfinding may not fix the issue because people don’t always read signs.  If they have the budget for it, it’d be a great place to renovate to make it easier to navigate, although at Chico State, it was by no means the most confusing building on campus.  The volume of use that the Meriam Library receives would make it a worthwhile investment in the future of the campus.

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Mostly harmless: The story of signs at the Monterey Public Library

First up, I’ll do my sign revision at the Monterey Public Library.  But I have good news as far as this library is concerned: I was actually worried that I’d have a hard time getting a picture of a sign that needs reworking because in general, their signs are quite good.  So rather than just commenting about the sign that needs revision, I’m also going to show a couple examples of signs that they have that I feel are quite good.

Here’s the original of the one I’m revising:

ebookOriginal Medium

Overall, not terrible.  The title has a clear description of what service is being advertised, and if you miss that, the picture of the Kindle makes it really clear.  Plus there are the times at the top making it clear that this is a workshop being held.  But that wall of text beneath the times is not at all conducive to scanning.  In fact, I shrunk the photo I took of it and had to make the shrunk photo bigger to be able to read all the text.  So, to modify this, I applied the letting go of the words principle to this document and came up with this revision:

ebookRevision Small

Pretty simple changes, really.  I made the text bigger and overall made it easier to scan by converting the main points into bullets rather than sentences.  The rest of the document I thought was fine, so I didn’t edit it.  (Apologies for the slight difference in color between the new and old sections, I did the best I could to match it to the old document, but I don’t have a fancy program like Photoshop so I’m using basic stuff and my rudimentary graphic design skills.

Now on to the fun part: the positive examples.  I took three pictures of good signs and one of them didn’t turn out, so I’m going to use the other two that did:

alwaysSomethingHappening

and:

libraryRocks Small

These are banners hung over the second floor of the Monterey Public library.  They are rather large banners that the library changes periodically and they are always the same kind of thing: a quote of some kind from a satisfied customer of the Monterey Public Library.  They’re short, the text is huge, they’re easy to read, and all in all, they express the patron’s satisfaction quite clearly.

At the Monterey Public Library, there are really more positive examples like these two signs than negative ones, which is why I wanted to make a point of showing these off.