On Monday, April 18, 2011, Amanda Etches-Johnson gave the 2011 Priscilla M. Mayden Lecture on the topic “From Usability to User Experience.” Designing websites, she explains, should focus not on what the software does, but on what the user does with it. Important design questions to ask include:
- How easy is this site to learn?
- How efficiently can end users complete their desired tasks?
- How easy will it be to come back to this site again later and remember how to use it?
- How quickly can the user and site together recover from errors?
If we can understand how the user experiences our site, we can design it to better meet their needs.
Etches-Johnson pointed out that at the core, an academic library website is a research tool, and she advocates that it should focus on frequently asked questions or sought-for types of resources. She also reviewed how one writes for the web; rather than pages loaded with lots of words, they:
- should be written in an active voice,
- can use short sentences or fragments, and
- are only as strong as the weakest feature.