The task of redesigning the Library’s website started in March 2013, with the process lasting for six months in total. The first phase of the project involved three months of user testing- interview subjects were drawn from a wide pool, featuring academics, LSE staff, and students at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate level. In a controlled environment, the project team studied user behaviour to discover the weaknesses of the old site and looked at more efficient ways of delivering information and resources to them. The tests involved asking the users questions such as ‘How would you find the Indian collection’ and ‘How would you search for your course collection reading list?’; users were then questioned about how they used the website prototype, providing ratings and satisfaction levels for ways of presenting the content.
The next phase involved stakeholder research, with a number of librarians and senior managers taking part. This stage of the process allowed testing to take place from a different perspective, so that the staff operating and updating the website could influence the project from an early stage and share their experiences of working with the website. After further prototypes were created and developed, the testing process was then repeated from the start, with user-validation exercises of the latest design taking place as the site went through a number of iterations.
As well as providing a body of evidence that formed the basis of the new site, the user testing also formed a key part of the advocacy program for the necessity of the website redesign. As website users played an important role informing the decisions, the job of convincing them of the need for change was already complete, paving the way for a smooth transition when the new website was launched.
The second stage of the project involved a massive content migration programme, involving 30 people over three months. The project team also commissioned web services to install new templates to reflect the streamlined website; the new design is cleaner, better structured and easier to navigate.
From a design point of view, the project team have been particularly pleased with the mainpage of the new website (pictured above); the tabs are meaningful, and all of the Library’s resource discovery tools are located in a single place. Overall, the website has been massively simplified; the amount of content has been optimised and refined, leading to an 80 per cent overall reduction in the number of pages.
The project team note that the website launch is only the beginning of the process- user behaviour and usage of the website will be observed over the coming months and years, in an extension of the user-led testing, with ongoing refinements and improvements planned for the future.
The project team would like to thank all those who contributed to the rebuild – IMT colleagues, Library staff and all staff and students involved.
The Library Team