Today, for the first time in a while, I found myself looking at some UK university library websites. I was amazed at how bad some of them were! I’ve previously written about library websites that suck here and here and here, and I reckoned that library websites would surely have improved since then, but from the evidence, many have not.
Why do the people who design and write library websites often fail to think about their sites from the perspective of the average user?
Here’s an example:
The first thing I noticed was the lack of a prominent Search box, but look – right at the bottom centre is a link to SEARCH. Where does that take you (today, anyway)? To this page…
Can you believe that? A link to SEARCH from a university library home page, that gives an error message! That completely sucks!
Update: That link no longer takes you to a ‘404’, instead, it takes you to the following – called ‘UEL Direct’, which isn’t that much better!
On the home page, tucked away at the bottom right, is a Search Library box. I’m pretty certain that means ‘Search the library website pages’ rather than ‘Search library’ (meaning search for books, e-journals, catalogue, etc). Why not state what it is searching, then? Update: Actually, I’ve no idea what it is searching, because, when you search for ‘twitter’ you get all sorts of non-library pages. So, despite saying ‘Search Library’ it appears to be searching the whole UEL website.
What else is there that I don’t like about the UEL Library website? Well, look at the Quick Links at the top right. The top links are: Databases & E-journals; Athens; Harvard Referencing.
What will the new, or average, student understand about those words? Apart from ‘E-journals’ probably very little indeed. Athens? Is that where the library staff went for their holidays? Databases? Eh?
The selection of Quick Links on the UEL Library website vary, depending on the page you’re on. Sometimes they are related to the page in question, but sometimes not. Why should there be a Quick Link to Opening Hours from the Athens page, but not other pages? Does that mean that Athens has opening hours? No. So why put it there?
Why does the graphic on the right of the home page refer to ‘ebooks’ (with a circle around the ‘e’ to make it look like @) when elsewhere on the site they are called ‘e-books’? Or, on this page, ‘ebooks’. If you search the library knowledge base (from the search box on the Help & Support page) for ‘ebooks’ you get 1 answer, whereas if you search for ‘ebooks’ you get 4 answers. And where on earth is the Advanced Search link for the knowledge base taking you?
What the heck is ‘PLATO’ on the Quick Links on the Help & Support page supposed to mean to the new, or average, student? Elsewhere on the site, it’s called PLATO Software. What is ‘ECDL’ supposed to mean, on the Quick Links on the New Students page?
On the home page there’s a link, from a graphic on the right, to JISC Content. Is it helpful to have such a prominent link to things that may not be available to students at UEL? And, for the new or average student, what is ‘JISC’ supposed to mean?
On the home page, what is the purpose, or meaning, of the heading, on the left: ‘In this section’?
Look at the Finding Resources page. The second link is to ‘Library Catalogue – Primo Help’. What is ‘Primo Help’ supposed to mean to the new, or average, student? Especially as there’s no mention of ‘Primo’ on the Library Catalogue page. In fact, there’s not even a mention of the library catalogue on the Library Catalogue page! So, what is the new or average student supposed to think that that page will search?
They like their jargon, do UEL Library, don’t they? What is e-/Copyright, which is mentioned here.
On the home page, there are actually 21 links to pages before you come across the Basic Information link.
The second link on the library Help & Support page is to EndNote Tutorials. Really! Not subject support, or FAQ or guides, but EndNote Tutorials!
At the very top left of the library Contact Us page, outside the main graphic area, is the word ‘need’. Weird!
I tried the Ask-A-Librarian page today, 8th September, and found some out-of-date information “Chat will be back during resits from 15th-26th August.”
Having read on this blog how important it is to use the word ‘you’, I notice that UEL Library’s first link on the home page is ‘Our Library & Learning Centres’. That says it all. UEL Library’s website simply isn’t written from the users’ perspective, so sorry, but apart from some pages such as this one and this one, I don’t like this library website.