Robarts UX Re-design

User Experience In Modern Academic Library

Time Jan - April, 2018 

Client Robarts Library 




The John P. Robarts Library is one of the largest academic libraries in the North America. On a busy day, it welcomes approximately 18,000 visitors to use the library resources and facilities. As the role of library has gradually changed, from a place that just collects books, to a more vibrant hub where people can meet with their friends and take advantages of available resources; whether a library understands the interactions between its visitors and the library resources has become a key to better serve the community. 



My responsibility is to leverage user research techniques such as onsite observation, questionnaire and interview to gather a deeper understanding of people's interactions with the library resources, staff and facilities.The user research needs to inform the clients what has to be done in order to improve the UX of their services. As the client requested, the library information kiosk will also be re-designed to enable self-serve needs.



The entire process of Robarts UX can be generally divided into six stages; they are, respectively, Stage I: Preparation, Stage II: Exploration , Stage III: user research, Stage IV: Design Iteration+ Validation + Mapping UX, Stage V: Prototype and Stage VI: Meeting. Each stage contains a set of tasks. 


Process Timeline: click the graph to enlarge it



Survey & Persona

In order to identify the main user group of the Robarts library, an online questionnaire is drafted using Google Form. There are 9 questions on the form; and participants will be asked about who they are, frequency of coming to Robarts, reasons of coming to Robarts, problems related to wayfinding in the building,  and as well as their awareness of information kiosk in the library. Questionnaire is distributed to random participants on site in three different weekdays; and in the end, a total of 114 participants filled out the online questionnaire.  


Here are some quick  facts about the visitors of Robarts library:

  •  All 114 participants are undergraduate students (very interesting!!)

  •  77.2% of participants come from the Arts and Science Faculty

  •  About 1/3 of participants reported to visit the library 3 times a week

  •  90 % of participants come to library to find a place to study v.s only 15% of participants come to find


  •  About 1/3 participants reported having difficulty with wayfinding in Robarts library 

  •  77.2% of participants don't know Robarts library has info kiosk installed throughout the building


User Persona: click the picture to enlarge it

Fieldwork & Experience Map

To understand the current problems related with user's wayfinding in the library; 9 participants are invited to perform a set of task using the as-is kiosk, afterwards, they are also invited for user interviews. During this part of the research, participants are encouraged to speak aloud; meanwhile, two researchers would take notes and observe participant's interactions with  library staff, resources and facilities. If you are interested in seeing the result of the observation and user feedbacks of the testing, click the button below:





Afterwards, user data are analyzed and organized to create the user experience map. A user journey map can not only help to showcase user's behaviors, feelings, and pain points, but also the opportunities for improvement. Thus, the client is extremely interested in seeing this map as they wish to know how to improve the wayfinding in the Robarts library. 


Experience Map: click the picture to enlarge it



Although some user research techniques have been done to generate a basic understanding of user's behaviors before entering the design phase; in fact, the UX approach we used to design the kiosk is called Lean UX and it's tend to be “quick and dirty". For those wondering what exactly is Lean UX, it means to focus less on heavy-duty UX paper works, and  more on testings and raw user data. The example below demonstrates how user feedbacks can help with design iterations. 

"Having the two menus/buttons on the top and bottom is confusing"; this is quoted from one of our rapid onsite testings with users. During the first iteration, our initial idea was to have the main menu options placed at the both the top and the bottom of the kiosk page. However some of the users thought this page is overloaded with information and suggested us to simplify the control panel; and to only place it at the bottom.

In the final design of this page, the control panel is simplified and it is placed at the bottom right corner. Floor buttons are also removed from the right side to prevent information overload. This is only an example of how rapid testings and user feedbacks helped with the design of the information Kiosk; and If you are interested in reading more about design iterations and user feedbacks, please click the button below: 



Last but not the least, the style of the UI has been modified to match with the branding of the client. The main color code is #1B3461, and the font is Montserrat. 




Note: if this is your first time trying the kiosk prototype, please keep it in mind, some components are slow to load on the first page. Please allow a couple of seconds before you use it. 

©  2019, Clark Ziang Chen. All Rights Reserved 
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