Heuristic Review

Efficient navigation

Navigation refers to browsing a website, clicking links to move from page to page. Navigation should be an intuitive experience, so the user dow not take the wrong path, get lost or disoriented, or have difficulty retracing their steps.


The breadcrumb presented to the user doesn't always reflect how they got to they page their on. For instance, if the user clicks on "About MLibrary", the associated breadcrumb is "Home > Department > Library Administration > About MLibrary". The user couldn't choose "Department" from the homepage, so the breadcrumb doesn't make sense. The breadcrumbs should represent the hierarchy of the site.

Organizational clarity

Organization referes to how content is chunked (broken up into sections), sequenced, and grouped. The quality of an organizational system is dependent on how well content is divided, as well as how easy it is for the user to see and understand the system being used.

Left navigation pane

It's confusing to the users that sometimes the left navigation pane is present, and for other times, there's just nothing in that column.

Clear labeling

The choice of labels is vital to website usability. Most online activity involves reading, so the name given to part of a page or a link label is crucial to accurately understanding and using the website. Poorly chosen and/or vague labels confuse users, leading them down the wrong paths on websites or causing them to leave the website because none of the labels appear to represent the desired content.

Content search box and "GO" button are not prominent enough

As search is the most important function for the library's users, this box should be very prominent. Also, with this being so small, it's hard for users to immediately find the box, and can be challenging to click in the box, and especially challenging to click on the tiny GO button.

Consistant design

Consistency pertains to all aspects of a website: layout, labeling, error messages, whether something is HTML text or graphical text on all pages, even the choice of colors.

Add a library website search box

Currently there is no way to search the content of the library's website. With so much content available, sometimes it's hard to find immediately what you're looking for, and/or there are features the user may have never known to look for. The library search box would always be in the top right hand corner of the page.

Matching user expectations

The Web has been in existence long enough for users to develop consistent, widespread expectations concerning web page behavior, such as what underlining and colors represent.

Open new window icon used sporadically

On the "Core Organization of MPublishing" page, the scholarly publishing units do not have new window icons to alert the user that they will be leaving the MLibrary page.

The "In the news" section does have a new window/tab icon to alert the user that they will be leaving the MLibrary page.

Effective visual design

Visual design concerns the 'look and feel' of the website, specifically how well interface design principles have been applied or followed. Adherence to these principles improves both aesthetics and functionality, because users are able to locate desired information more readily.

Unbalanced home page

The homepage feels a little unbalanced with no left navigation, and a really big spotlight image. Users might not realize the library has so many resources available with other features given so much weight and attention.

Supporting readability and scannability

Most of the time users spend online is spent reading and a good portion of that reading is done by scanning through pages, looking for headings and links to follow.

Text size is inconsistant, and some text too small

There are many different font sizes on the homepage

Facilitating user tasks

Web users are task-oriented. Websites that support these tasks by facilitating access and reducing the time required for the task are best positioned to keep visitors returning and satisfied with the experience.

Providing services specified for a particular user group.

I haven't found anything yet that targets resources and instructions for different user groups such as undergraduates, graduates, faculty, public, etc. Different user groups sometimes have different enough needs to warrant special attention for each group.

Social media

I know that the library does offer some social media services for users, but they aren't immediately noticable on the site.

Providing help

Even the most carefully designed website may need a help section, especially if the site functionality is fairly complex and users ar expected to step through various processes. Unfortunately, the label 'Help' is sometimes off-putting to users, who resist visiting that area of the website because of previous 'Help' experiences (with desktop software or other websites) that were not satisfying. Users may also associate 'Help' with only technical problems and not visit that area for more content-based questions, such as where to find something or what module to complete next.

Prominent 'Ask a Librarian' constant in header

Make 'Ask a Librarian' always constant in the library header so users can always find it easily, and ask questions if they get stuck. Hopefully they won't give up.