I was struck by several things on the home page of The River Campus Libraries of the University of Rochester

One was the cover flow display of a small selection of new books. It may not provide a very full experience but it is a nice hook and links to more. Another was the conveniently visible listing of libraries, opening times and notices in the upper right hand corner (although I was disappointed that the clock was not actually telling the time).

However, what prompts the blog entry is an aspect of the prominently featured search. There is a tabbed single box search of the type we are becoming increasingly accustomed. Tabs provide access to the catalog, to articles, and so on. Here is the Catalog search which is the current default open tab.

rochestercat.png

Note the additional suggestions on the right: 'related links'. It points to additional resources of potential interest to somebody searching the catalog.

Here is the Course resources and reserves tab (can't link direct to tab):

rochesterbb.png

Here the 'related links' point to BlackBoard, and to information about copyright and placing course materials on reserve.

This is simple but useful - it places potentially useful materials unobtrusively in the workflow.

Incidentally, I was interested to see that they placed the catalog first. I wonder what drove this decision .....

Comments: 3

Apr 05, 2010
Mike Bell

Thanks for commenting about our new design. I love the idea of a working clock, if we can do it without slowing down the page.



The design of related links was shaped by usability findings. We knew we wanted those related links near the search box, but had to go through several iterations toning them down to where they are now. At first we had them too strong and users got slowed down and distracted from the key task.



As far as making the catalog the default search, there really wasn't any question about it. The front page has had a catalog search box on it for many years, so making some other box the default would have tripped up our users unless it was searching the catalog and more.



The only alternative I can imagine is a universal discovery tool that brings together results from everywhere, or at least brings back the counts from everywhere. Rochester's River Campus Libraries doesn't have that functionality in production use yet.



Our usability testing tells us that users have trouble knowing when to search for a journal vs. an article vs. the catalog. This happened before our latest redesign and we didn't really improve things with it. I think a universal discovery tool may help.



Mike Bell

Assistant Dean for IT

University of Rochester--River Campus Libraries

Apr 09, 2010
Daniel

Yes that was a nice design, though I think the slideshow-header is so fast that it becomes disturbing.)

If you link to the tab anchors it seems to trigger the Javascript: Course resources and reserves.

(It scrolls to far in Firefox though. Chrome and IE works better.)

Apr 10, 2010
Lorcan Dempsey

Mike, thanks for comment. I have removed the clock from my taskbar as I don't want to have that continual graphic reminder of the passage of time visible to me ;-) Nor do I wear a watch, so I find myself clicking on a bookmark to the BBC when I want to see the time. For those of us who grew up with it, the clock is an icon, but also usefully tells the time ..... So, I immediately thought yours did too ...

You probably saw the discussion on one of the lists after I did the post about the ordering of tabs. There seems to be some variety of practice.

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