User-Centred Design and Balsamiq

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Posted by Elif Varol | Posted in E-resources, Library, seminar, software, Uncategorized, workshop | Posted on 10-06-2011

A few weeks ago, I went to an event in Edinburgh where user-centred design, usability in digital libraries and faceted search user interface had been introduced.

Case studies and research evidence arising from the JISC funded UX2 project had also been presented.

Usability has become an increasingly important issue in terms of reaching the users as well as keeping them on your website. I remember a basic “3-click rule” from my postgraduate studies which basically means if the users can’t find what they are looking for within 3 clicks,they would leave that website.

Most websites have some little usability problems and it is impossible to have a perfect website without flaws however, it is essential not to have major usability issues.  The best practice is to make an effort, even a small one, to provide “usable” and “useful” websites to enhanced the user experience.

Usability goes hand in hand with “usefulness” and one of the ways to improve usability is user testing which needs to be done at the early stages. Additionally, it is better to perform testing as often as possible. There maybe some concerns around testing such as cost and time however, it can be done in an inexpensive way. Guerrilla (informal) testing is ideal when you don’t have enough resources and time especially when it is difficult to recruit representative users.

It was a very useful event, afternoon session in particular where we get to experiment prototyping tool called Balsamiq. I have to admit that it is user friendly and intuitive piece of software. At present, University of Edinburgh is running a pilot in collaboration with JISC and it’s available to UK Higher and Further Education institutions however it is for a limited time only and you need to sign up with University of Edinburgh’s EASE system in order to be able to use it.

The image below is the screenshot of a prototype website I created.  It is really easy and enjoyable to use it to the extend that I didn’t need to look at my notes or the manual I was given in the session.

It’s a really good opportunity to try it out before making a purchase. By the way, the pricing for license for this versatile tool starts from $79.

Balsamiq MockUp

Overall, I enjoyed this event but I wish we had more time spent on the Prototyping session which was in the afternoon. In my opinion, it would have been better if we had the presentations in the afternoon or having a prototyping session in between the presentations however, that is not say I am not grateful to the organisers of this such useful event.

First Thought Cloud

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Posted by Elif Varol | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 21-05-2011

Welcome to the my long overdue blog. I have never been keen on writing even in my own native language so the idea of having a blog had not been appealing for a while however, I was aware that I had to change this attitude towards writing.  I have lots of thoughts flying around in my head all the time, just like the ones in a thought cloud. These thoughts are rather disorganised and they sometimes come and go quickly before I put them in to good use.  I am hoping this blog will help me to achieve that as well as reaching out others particularly Information Management professionals.

A brief description for those who do not know me…

I am originally Turkish and have been living in this country for almost 13 years and before you ask, I like being here very much. I have been working in the University Library for over 7 years where I currently hold 2 posts- Library Assistant and E-resources Assistant. I have various qualifications, none of which are in the Library or Information Management field as I had planned to become something else when I grew up other than a Librarian. I came in to the profession by chance and at first, it was a temporary career step however over the years, I have grown into loving anything related to information and information management and become so passionate about it and now I really do not want to work in another field.

In this blog, I will be writing about conferences and events I have been to as well as sharing thoughts, ideas and problems I (we) face in the field of Library and Information Management.