Author Archives: wood19

Website Redesign Update #7

Website Mockups

Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on the wireframes. We now have mockups of our new website that show the site colors, fonts, and features. WAG already reviewed the first round, and Pixo incorporated their feedback. Now its time for everyone to take a look!

Please provide your feedback through this Qualtrics survey by Tuesday, March 1st.

Search Box Usability Testing

I’ve been working with the Summon Working Group to design the home page search box. We’ll be doing usability testing with students the week of March 14th. If you have access to any student groups or listservs that we can use to recruit students, please get in touch at

Web Content

The Web Content Team has been hard at work writing and gathering the new content for the site. We’ll have the first drafts of all the site content ready in mid-March.

Up Next

We’ll share the design for the site search box soon, after usability testing with students is complete. There will also be opportunities for feedback on site content. Keep your eyes out on the ULIB blog and for all-staff emails for updates.


Website Redesign Update #6

Voice and Tone Workshops

Last week, on January 14th and 15th, several library faculty and staff members participated in activities that will set the voice and tone for our new site.

A few themes emerged:

  • Everyone overwhelmingly agreed that we want to convey we are accessible to all versus seeming elite
  • Both groups touched on similar themes of being dedicated to our users while also empowering them sufficient

Lindsey Gates-Markel, the Content Strategist at Pixo, will be working the results of these activities into our new web style guide.

You can see the results of both activities on Box:

More updates soon!


Website Redesign Update #5

Research Sharing Sessions

The Research Sharing Sessions are complete, and we had a great turnout! For those of you that were not able to attend the research sharing sessions, you can:


The first draft of the wireframes are ready! This is the first step into setting up our new site. You can view the wireframes and provide feedback through this Qualtrics survey. Everyone working on the site would appreciate your feedback and questions, so please take a look if you can, by Monday, January 25th.

Up Next

The Web Content Team starts training next week, and Allan Berry is starting development on our new content management system.

If you have any questions, please contact More updates coming soon!

Website Redesign Update #4

 Ideation & Card Sort Activities Urbana, Rockford, Peoria, and Chicago

Tara conducted additional ideation and card sorting activities in LHS-Urbana, CLHS-Rockford, LHS-Peoria, LHS-Chicago, the College of Pharmacy, and Student Center East. Students filled out mad lib activities, wrote about what they like about the library website and what they’d like to change, and participated in card sorts where they organized and labeled groups of terms from our library website.

More about the research methods

If you’re interested in learning more about design and user experience research, please take a look at Universal Methods of Design – Bruce Hanington, Bella Martin (ProQuest Ebrary). It covers card sorting, the Love Letter & Breakup Letter, personas, and many other UX research activities.

Design Workshops

Sketching the novice student's research process.

Sketching the novice student’s research process.

The Implementation Team (Tara Wood, Tracy Seneca, Esther Verreau, and Allan Berry), along with Rosie Hanneke and Annie Armstrong, participated in a workshop with Pixo to map out the novice student’s research process, and then sketch out what we’d like on a home page that would support this process.

The Implementation Team and Isabel

Results of the Object Oriented UX Workshop. Pink post-its represent content types, blue represent metatdata items, and green represent possible connections between content types.

Results of the Object Oriented UX Workshop. Pink post-its represent content types, blue represent metatdata items, and green represent possible connections between content types.

Gonzalez-Smith also participated in an Object Oriented User Experience workshop, where we discussed and defined content types for our new site. Content types are reusable templates that can appear in different ways across the site. For example, a staff profile content type could appear in a staff directory listing and in an individual staff profile page.

The results of these workshops inform the process of building wireframes for the site. You’ll be hearing more about wireframes soon, but feel free to read more about how wireframes work in the design process.


Tara worked with Pixo to add some additional user personas. Personas are archetypes of users – they don’t represent an individual user or every type of user we encounter, but they’re the building blocks on which we can base common use scenarios. Our personas take into consideration diversity in ability and backgrounds of our students; their use of library space, resources, and expertise; and the external factors that motivate their use of the library. Eventually, we’ll expand on these and add additional personas for students, faculty, and staff.

You can learn more about personas and view the personas we have so far .

Research Sharing Workshops

Tara will conduct two research sharing sessions to discuss the results of the ideation and card sort activities, design workshops, and what’s next in the redesign process.

  • January 7th, 3pm at Daley Library, 1-360
  • January 12th, 3 pm at LHS – Chicago, 228

Blackboard Collaborate is available for remote participation for both sessions. Email to RSVP.

Phase 2 Research Brief

For more information on the Fall 2015 student research activities and design workshops, you can view the full Phase 2 Research Brief.

What’s Next

In January, we’ll be releasing wireframes for the redesigned site, conducting workshops with the Web Content Team, and starting development on the new site.

Please contact if you have any questions.


Website Redesign Update #3

Kick Off Meeting with Pixo

The UIC Library Website Redesign officially kicked off today. Mary Case, Bob Sandusky, and the Web Advisory Group met with our project team at Pixo to review the proposed project timeline, brainstorm our major content goals for the new site, and review the project planning tools we’ll be using to keep everything on track.

Web Content Team

The members of the Web Content Team have been selected and approved by the Steering Committee. Each member will be in charge of a service area on the site, coordinating with library faculty and staff to get all of the information we’ll need to complete the new site content. The members of the team are:

  • Alex Castro
  • Amber Hoppenworth
  • Isabel Gonzalez-Smith
  • Rosie Hanneke
  • Dan Harper
  • Sandy DeGroote
  • Linda Naru

Ideation & Card Sort Activities

Cate showing off our library website love lettersWe’re continuing to research activities with students as the other pieces of the redesign are coming together. You can see the ideation activity we conducted at Daley Library. Students wrote love letters and breakup letters to the library website and filled out fill-in-the-blank mad libs that helped us to see what vocabulary students are using, their mental models around the library, what they love about the library, and what really frustrates them.

We’ll have a full report soon, but here’s one exceptional love letter (it rhymes!):

“Sometimes when I’m in a hurry, writing papers all sick and worried, you help me along the way. The ask a librarian chat is one I find works the best, especially when I’ve had no rest. Ordering a book is usually a breeze, only sometimes when I want to cancel the order, it never really works for me. I wish I could keep an ebook out, and stream films from home while I eat my alfalfa sprouts. In the end I have to say, a bug here, a bug there, but all in all I love you. I swear, I’d never make it through school without you.”

Thanks to Isabel Gonzalez-Smith and Rosie Hanneke for working with me and Cate at Pixo to develop these ideation activities! Fill-in-the-blank activitiesAdditional activities are coming up in Urbana, Rockford, Peoria, and at Student Center East and colleges on the west campus in Chicago. In-person card sorting activities will also take place soon in all of our library locations, and we’re looking into options for online participation in the card sorts as well.

Our student research is never done, but once we finish up these activities at the end of November, we’ll have the information we need to start laying out the information architecture and vocabulary for the site.

Website Redesign Update #2

Thank you to everyone that participated in the Web Presence Survey! WAG interviewed a total of 42 Library faculty and staff to learn how you use the web presence and what you would like to see from it going forward.

Frequently identified goals included:

  • simple navigation and search
  • less segregation between library services and accounts
  • less jargon
  • more frequent updates to information
  • improved connections between users, staff, spaces, and services
  • clear communication and policies
  • easier, more efficient tools and workflows for content creation

WAG also outlined recommendations to address challenges you are facing, to problems both big and small. A few of these recommendations to address this Fall include:

  • Creating a style guide for LibGuides that outlines best practices for usable guides
  • Conduct design activities, such as card sorting, to improve labels and navigation on our site
  • Explore better search options for the site redesign
  • Complete and share the Redesign Strategy, which will communicate the redesign process and who is responsible for what pieces
  • Clean up legacy content on the Tigger server, so it is not appearing in search results and confusing users

You can read the full survey report (Box).

Coming Up

WAG will be conducting card sorts with students over the next few months. Card sorting is a technique that allows us to learn more about students’ mental models around our services – what they call them and how they expect to find them on our site. Our first card sort will focus on our online resources – research guides, databases, Summon, the catalog, etc.

We are also working our design firm, Pixo, to finalize our redesign strategy and timeline, which will guide the work we do over the next year.

If you have any questions, email

Website Redesign Update #1

Over the past several months, the Web Advisory Group has been making strides towards the redesign of the main library website, set to launch fall 2016.

Usability Testing with Students

WAG worked with a design firm, Pixo, to conduct usability tests with undergraduate and graduate students. The results of these usability tests will inform the redesign and help us make decisions based on the needs of our students.

A few highlights from the results:

  • We use too much library jargon that is confusing to students, both undergraduate and graduate
  • Every student we interviewed was bi-lingual or multi-lingual, and many were non-native English speakers – making our library jargon even more confusing!
  • We don’t have a clear hierarchy of information – not just in our website menus, but also in pages themselves
  • We need to use labels consistently, and we need to use the labels that make the most sense to our students

Please feel free to read the full report (Box).

Survey of Library Faculty and Staff

WAG has completed interviews with library faculty and staff to learn what you are doing with our web presence and what you would like from it going forward. We are now working on a report of those findings to share.

Requests for Web Updates

There is currently a freeze on adding any new editors to our library website or providing any trainings. This is so that WAG and the Web Services Librarian can fully focus on the redesign.

If you need any web content updated, send an email to Copyediting changes will usually be live on the site within one weekday.

Coming Up

By the beginning of the fall 2015 semester, be on the lookout for our new mobile site.

You will also hear more about our progress on the redesign as we get into the next phases of the project.


Please contact if you have any questions or comments.