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UX Challenge: Unique library branch microsites and uniform "At a Glance" pages

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Early in our user research process for the new library website, faculty and students asked us to present easy to find and consistent information about Stanford's 25 branch, auxiliary, and coordinate libraries. With such a large and complex system of locations, it was important to users, they told us, that hours, location information and basic policies were presented to them in a consistent and highly accessible format.  

In response to this feedback, we launched the new library website in August 2012 with a set of library "About" pages for every location, with uniform layout, content and labels.  Site analytics and user feedback suggests that these pages are heavily used and serving their intended function.

Each of Stanford's branch libraries is also in the process of launching more comprehensive microsites that showcase their unique identities, services and collections.  In many cases these sites are the starting point for faculty and students in specific fields, and are built and designed with the specific needs of those fields in mind.  Several of these sites have launched over the past several months, and they are exceptionally effective and heavily used. 

While both the About pages and the branch microsites are heavily used and serving their respective function, users are reporting some confusion about their relationship to each other.  The design and information architecture does not make the distinction between the two clear, and users have a hard time finding one or the other. In some cases users think the About page IS the microsite.

To help resolve this confusion, we have designed a solution shown in the mockups below. 

Here is the full design proposal, with all variations described.

A few things to note in the new designs:

  • The name of the "About" pages is changed to "At-a-Glance"
  • A prominent horizontal tabbed interface is placed at the top of both the "At-a-Glance" and microsite pages to make navigation from one to the other easier and more obvious.
  • The "Libraries" landing page now prioritizes links to the library microsites, but also provides quicklinks to At-a-Glance pages.

These changes are being implemented now, and should be available on the site in July. As always, we welcome feedback at any time on this and other improvements we are making to the site.  

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