Helping Students Get it: Redesigning 360Link #PQsummit

Presenter: Bonnie Imler, Library Director, Penn State University (Altoona)

Presenter: Eddie Neuwrith: Product Manager Lead, Discovery Services, ProQuest

Linking is critical to discovery and has two key components — technology (link reliabilty) and user expectation. Presenters Bonnie Imler (Penn State, Altoona) and Eddie Neuwrith (ProQuest) presented the details of redesign of 360 link based on usuability studies addresing these two components.

Neuwrith started off with reliability, Imler followed with three studies addresing aspects of user expectation, and Neuwrith concluded with feedback received on 360Link 2.0  features.

Neuwrith noted that 360 LInk is still heavily reliant on OpenURL, and likened resolveing these syntax to filling out Mad Libs.  While an endearing metaphor, it remais unhelpful and inefficient for reliabile linking and the ability to help users immediate needs.  IEDL linking is faster and more relaible (near 100%)  and does not requiring the extra work of navigating through the journal and issue from the URL data. 

Imler’s three seprate studies revealed that, where lacking full text, users will print the abstract, click back to results, and give up on the database altogether (and think bad things about the library).  With each extra click, she found, you lose a percentage of your users.  Specific stumbling blocks to delivery these studies found include:

  • font size (many smaller than regular text size), 
  • vague and inconcsistent label across datbases, nothing of which say “article” which users are asked to find, 
  • branding (buttons need to look like button and it can’t look like an ad), 
  • loading (spinning wheel should say “Just wait…”)

360 Sidebar helper frame eliminates the need for users to click, linking directly to full text.  However,  if you don’t want the frame, the landing page is also redesigned for the features Imler addressed.  There is a more obvious, bigger button for Full Text Online.  Other options ( for other database, journal options that users never use) are hidden under an expandable info icon. Report a problem is also more visible.  This has resulted in libraries reporting increased number of requests and ability to provide needed articles.

The features prioritized user experience over more librarian-focused needs.  Specifically addressed in the Q&A, for example, the database ordering in 360 Admin console remains clunky.  But is new admin module is in development the works for all products (not just 360 Link).

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