I wrote this when I was the Digital Library Applications Lead at the University of Notre Dame. It was archived from http://www3.nd.edu/~dbrubak1/ which no longer exists.

An Excellent User Experience

Building a first-class user experience is harder than slapping a glitzy stylesheet on the face of your web app. An excellent user experience is the culmination of:

More Than Meets The Eye

The Spectrum of User Experience © 2009 Information Architects, Inc.

This diagram is my favorite decomposition of the elements that comprise user experience. It was made by Oliver Reichenstien as a part of a series:

  1. UX Deliverables
  2. UX Stress Fields
  3. UX Spheres of Action
  4. UX Core Values

Two of them are featured in an article. Taken together they are quite insightful.

We Can Do Better

Design is a process not a result.

Throughout the life cycle of our products and services we must continually refine their operation, appearance, and functionality. To do otherwise is to ignore our commitment to our patrons. We have a long way to go for all of the six components mentioned above:

  • The branding of our sites is inconsistent and the overall visual appeal is often lacking.
  • There is little refinement in the interaction design of our sites. Many of our applications navigate or operate oddly. User testing and user feedback is largely, if not completely absent.
  • The information architecture of our sites leaves our patrons with either too little context or an unending morass of navigation.
  • The functional scope of our projects is usually good for the first round of development. However, we struggle to support the evolution of our sites and services in later stages of their life cycle.
  • The readability, stability, and programmatic tests of our application code leaves much to be desired.
  • Performance tuning of our production applications is almost completely absent. We cannot guarantee a speedy experience even if the patron is on campus.

What’s Next

We have committed ourselves to “service excellence”. To fulfill this commitment we must make design a top priority as we build the constellation of sites and applications that make up a digital library. Many of the skills and methods needed to do this are within our reach. What we need as a team are practices that put the user experience at the core of everything we do.