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How Usable Are E-books? User Testing E-books at an Academic Library

David Comeaux
Emily Frank

Over recent years, Louisiana State University (LSU) Libraries, like many others, has targeted collections spending to invest in e-books. We designed this study to better understand barriers to use and frustrations students encounter using e-books and to explore gaps in the field. While numerous studies have reported on usage analysis or survey results, few have employed usability testing to directly observe students interacting with e-books. This article reports on the findings of a series of usability tests conducted on four e-book platforms: SpringerLink, Project MUSE, Taylor & Francis, and JSTOR. We employed convenience sampling to recruit participants and a prompted think-aloud protocol to observe participants as they searched an e-book for information. The results revealed features that were helpful or sought by student users and those that created barriers in the user experience.

Designing the Structured Search Experience: Rethinking the Query-Builder Paradigm

Tony Russell-Rose
Farhad Shokraneh

Knowledge workers such as healthcare information professionals, legal researchers, and librarians need to create and execute search strategies that are comprehensive, transparent, and reproducible. The traditional solution is to use command-line query builders offered by proprietary database vendors. However, these are based on a paradigm that dates from the days when users could access databases only via text-based terminals and command-line syntax. In this paper, we present a new approach in which users express concepts as objects on a visual canvas and manipulate them to articulate relationships. This offers a more intuitive user experience (UX) that eliminates many sources of error, makes the query semantics more transparent, and offers new ways to collaborate, share, and optimize search strategies and best practices.

Your Coworkers Deserve Good UX, Too

Lynn Hoffman
Dialog Box

Unless otherwise noted, all content in Weave UX is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) in order to allow for the greatest possible dissemination of our authors’ work. Our authors always retain copyright to their work, and we never charge our authors to publish in Weave UX.