Texas Digital Library Conference System, 2017 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries

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Lessons Learned in Creating New Digital Library Interfaces
Mark E. Phillips, William Hicks

Last modified: 2017-03-22


During the past year the UNT Libraries completely redesigned two of its core digital library interfaces.  The Portal to Texas History and the UNT Digital Library were modernized and improved with lessons learned from multiple information sources.  These sources include: an analysis of the distribution, frequency, and averages of fields within objects’ metadata, feedback from users during six years of existing system operation, Google Analytics and Search Console data, interactive design workshops with stakeholders, peer and functionality review of other digital library and cultural heritage websites, and by employing best practices related to both mobile responsive design principles and accessibility compliance.  The findings from these sources helped to direct the project team to create a new interface that seeks to provide enhanced access and visibility of digital objects.

This presentation will provide an overview of the information gathering process with attention to the interactive design steps employed by the development team. Specific examples of how usage data was employed to validate or invalidate some notions of “how people use digital libraries” and what that means for the design and architecture of the sites. A walk-through of the sites will demonstrate aspects of modern design and development, and include information related to asset management (images, CSS, and JavaScript) and their effects on site-speed rendering time, issues related to search engine optimization, social media ‘sharing’, the iteration of features through revision, how we try to conform with WCAG guidelines, and finally the challenges of improving site features without alienating existing user and their developed patterns of use.


user interfaces, user experience, website redesign, digital libraries