April 7, 2017- Mobile UX

Friday April 7, 2017 | 9:30am-10:45am | Mercy College, Manhattan Campus


Mobile UX: Best Practices in Web Design and Content Management

Professor Valerie Forrestal, Web Services Librarian at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, will lead a lively discussion about usability issues for mobile web site development. She will discuss various aspects of usability such as consistency, learnability, memorability, and efficiency. Professor Forrestal’s discussion will provoke a great dialogue about best practices when developing mobile web sites.

Join us for a great discussion on Friday April 7, 2017.

Here are the slides from the talk




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ACRL/NY UX discussion on Dark Patterns

ACRL/NY User Experience discussion group “Dark Patterns”

Tuesday November 10, 2015- 5:00pm-6:30pm

CUNY Graduate Center, Mina Rees Library


Attendees: Mark Aaron Polger, co-chair (CSI, CUNY), Lily Sacharow (Berkeley College), Chanitra Bishop (Hunter College, CUNY), Phoebe Stein (SVA)

Regrets: Albert Tablante, co-chair


Dark Patterns are when web designers purposely create user interfaces to confuse the user.  According to DarkPatterns.org, they are “user interfaces that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.”


In the broadest sense, are our libraries designed to create confusing experiences? Are our libraries unintentionally designed like mazes for our users? Are we creating “Dark Patterns” unintentionally on our web sites and in our physical spaces?


Web Sites: Front page, Docutek e-reserves, LibGuides


Confusing, too much text, too much content, too many menus, overwhelming

Articles tab has “A-Z list of databases”, “Databases by subject”, Discovery layer

Librarians provide too much info

Must be selected and curated

Some libraries have a User Experience Committee, comes out of the Web Site committee. Sometimes, comes out of Access Services Committee.

User Experience should extend beyond web sites. UX even extends to building layout, entrance, furniture design, placement of reference desk, placement of staircase, stacks, etc


Docutek- e-reserves is confusing

Too many clicks



Confusing, buried, inconsistent design

LibGuides- subject specific of class specific

Can students find them?


Usability Testing:


May help prevent unintentional Dark Patterns

Testing should be done once per year

Observational, task based activities

Have Silverback usability testing software (v.3)

Read the task- ask library users to explain the process

Take digital video for playback using Quicktime or Camtasia (for analysis)

How many subjects? 5-10 people?

10-25 minutes

Try different user groups

Observe users’ behavior

Classroom testing may be effective


Web Site Re-Design


Librarian or Designer or Outsourced to Company?

Should be Library-Centric design

Librarians should collaborate and be part of the design process

Committee responsible for developing design, function, and hierarchy

Web Committee- students and systems staff in addition to librarians to help reduce web site navigational confusion


Content Management System or HTML web pages


Symphony or Drupal or WordPress, or HTML static pages

Building Design- Dark Patterns

Confusing array of staircases, entrances, elevators, directional signage

Not a branded building, Infrastructure restrictions, architecture features as limitations to access


Physical Spaces: building space, service design, directional signage, entrance, exit, staircase


Track users’ walking patterns

Circulation and Reference Desk? What floor are they located ?

Collection Spaces- confusing, library services without a collection

Reference, circulating/non circulating, film, oversize, main stacks

Directional Signage- should address confusion

Berkeley College Manhattan- e-Library (computer lab model), and Study Center (traditional library with physical books)

Hunter College- 9 floors, entrance is not on the 1st floor


Mission of the Library: Identity Crisis, Decreasing Reference Collection

With a decreasing reference collection, should it be integrated with the main circulating collection to reduce confusion

Are libraries confusing? Do they look like computer labs or school cafeterias?

Are librarians and libraries confusing our users by providing too many services, too much information?

Social space, study space, collection space, meeting space, technology space, are we having an identity crisis?

Librarians’ roles are confusing. Are we I.T. technicians? What are we?

Reference desk – should it be replaced with an I.T. help desk? Should reference desk be hidden and I.T. help desk more visible?

Libraries associated with books and Info/Learning Commons associated with computers


Library Computers: software, hardware expectations, open vs. locked down

Should library computers match software/hardware as regular computer labs

Open computers versus locked computers

Student HelpDesk phone at reference desk may reduce confusion if they cannot login to computers.

Reset password stations versus going to I.T. helpdesk to reset password

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Discussion: Access- April 17, 2015

ACRL/NY User Experience Discussion Group

Theme of “Access

Friday April 17th, 2015- 9:30am-11:00am

Mercy College, Manhattan Campus room 725

Attendees:  Linda Miles (Yeshiva Univ.), Adina Mulliken (Hunter College, CUNY), Lily Sacharow (Berkeley College, Manhattan),  Sara Tabei (Touro College), Karen Okamoto (John Jay, CUNY), Meagan Lacy (Guttman, CUNY),  Madeline Ford (Hostos, CUNY), Jill Locascio (SUNY Optometry), Mark Aaron Polger (CSI, CUNY), Carrie Marten (SUNY Purchase), Janice Dunham (JJ,CUNY), Karen Erani  (independent consultant)

Regrets: Albert Tablante (co-chair)

  1. Introduction of the discussion group by co-chair Mark Aaron Polger
  1. Introductions from the group
  1. How does access connect to UX design?
  1. Group discussed accessibility in terms of disabilities, learning disabilities, non-native English speakers
  2. Group discussed UX as face-to-face interactions, web accessibility, ADA compliance for databases, VPAT (vendor form that explains how each database strives to be ADA Compliant)
  3. Signage, web site design was also discussed
  4. Issues
    1. Entrance/turnstiles
    2. Reference desk- orientation of reference desk, purpose
    3. Stand up student kiosks
    4. Readable PDF documents versus scannable
    5. ILL –à accessible PDF files
    6. ILLiad-à asking for automatic OCR of scanned documents
    7. Signage (directional, policy, promotional)
    8. Printers /Scanners
    9. IT assistance
    10. Web site design/content/language
  1. Space—building design (connecting architects with librarians and library staff)

-Group cited a book College Libraries and Student Culture: What we know now (2012)

One colleague cited this book for the group:

College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know

Edited by Lynda M. Duke and Andrew D. Asher
Item Number: 978-0-8389-1116-7


8.       Cognitive mapping (ethnographic study) can be used to best understand library users and how they access services & resources. Asking students to draw where interaction happens.

9.       Building maps/floor maps & size of signs

10.   Group discussed challenges:

a.       Time

b.      Staffing

c.       Response from their time period

d.      Resources

11.   UX must be part of the culture of the library.

12.   Culture of assessment

13.   Legal requirements for Universities to be ADA compliant

a.       7 lawsuits since 2011 on accessibility with Universities

b.      Univ. of Montana

c.       Must train faculty and staff on web accessibility

d.      Captioning on Camtasia (YouTube library tutorials)

14.   Unify service points vs. separate service points  (up for debate)

a.       Visibility is an issue. Librarians and staff need to be accessible.

b.      Some service areas have glass window

c.       Bring learning centre, writing centre, IT into the library

d.      Integrate into workflow

15.   After hours support? Who is there? Librarians, IT, public safety, circ. Staff?

a.       Leave a part of the library opened

b.      Staffing issues. Who is at the library at 3:00am? What are they doing? Who staffs the library?

c.       Are students studying, sleeping ,socializing?

16.   Donor politics and how they advocate with librarians and architects for UX

17.   Co-chair concluded lively discussion by thanking all attendees. Hope to schedule another discussion group meeting in the Fall of 2015.
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ACRL/NY Spring 2014 Discussion : “Writing for the Web”- June 13, 2014

On Friday June 13, 2014,  we had a lively User Experience (UX) Discussion on “Writing for the Web”.

Informal Notes from our discussion:

Much of UX focuses on web interfaces but there needs to be more discussion on the content on web sites.

Introductions from discussion participants

  • Struggling to define UX
  • So many different interpretations
  • UX= any type of interaction that you have with a person, place, or product. As librarians, we need to make our interactions usable/user friendly, memorable, desirable, emotionally positive!

Struggle with Language

Discussion of Jakob Nielsen’s Web Site (Nielsen Norman Group: Evidence Based User Experience Research, Training, and Consulting )

Writing for the Web Guideline (selected):

  • Break grammar rules
  • Avoid text heavy web pages
  • Simple language
  • Divide content into many pages
  • Create bulleted lists
  • No scrolling
  • Users read less than 50% (on web pages) than on printed publications
  • Users read in the “F” pattern
  • Jargon-free
  • Consistency matters

What Do We Call Our Discovery Service?

  • What content do we add to it? What do we leave out? What do we name it?

User Centered Design

  • We make assumptions but we really need to ask our users what they want.

Usability Testing

  • How to recruit (library instruction class, on campus, using incentives, gift cards, etc)
  • How large should our sample be
  • Analysis
  • How do we make time?
  • Staffing
  • What do we do with the data?


  • Do we include a glossary of terms to explain terms?
  • Do we simplify language?

Recommended report: John Kupersmith’s “Library Terms that users understand” report can be downloaded here
His web site: www.jkup.net

Federated Search, Library Catalogues, and Discovery Service

Do we brand it? Literature on library jargon discourages the branding of library catalogues, federated searching, and discovery services. What do we call it?

Discussion concluded at 10:45am, Friday June 13, 2014.

Notes : Mark Aaron Polger, markaaronpolger@gmail.com


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Web Site Migration- Resources compiled by Valerie Forrestal

Getting Started


Editing WordPress themes in Dreamweaver:


Free WordPress Responsive Themes:


WordPress Plugins:


Useful WordPress Codex resources:


Tabbed search boxes:


Creating search boxes for various library products:


Using webfonts:


Google form hacks: http://theinfobabe.blogspot.com/2013/09/hacking-google-forms.html


CSS stuff:


Important WordPress PHP calls:

  • relative page/post links: <?php echo get_permalink(#); ?>”>
    (where # is the page or post number. they’re all unique, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a page or a post)
  • image links, where images are in a folder in the child theme folder: <img src=”<?php bloginfo(‘stylesheet_directory’); ?>/images/jpg“>
  • includes where file is in parent theme: <?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . ‘/php‘); ?>
  • includes where file is in child theme: <?php include (STYLESHEETPATH . ‘/php‘); ?>


Version control with git:


Keeping up with WordPress News, Tips, and Tricks:






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Discussion theme: Assessment April 25, 2013

ACRL/NY User Experience Discussion Group

April 25, 2013


Attendees: Jean Amaral (QCC, CUNY), Sue Hunter (Pace Univ.), Elaine Provenzano (Manhattanville), Lisa Chow (Brooklyn Public Library), Haroko Yamauchi (MLIS grad Queens College), Albert Tablante (ASA college), Robin Davis (JJ, CUNY), Stephanie Gross (Yeshiva Univ.), Mark Aaron Polger (CSI,CUNY), Karen Erani (consultant), Tina Weiss (HUC)

What is assessed?

  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Web Site
  • Study Space
  • Chairs
  • Entrance


IRB process



  • Card sorting
  • Ethnographic studies
  • Ask students to tell us what they know in 90 seconds
  • Suggestion box
  • Focus groups
  • Fly on the wall (user observation)
  • Liaison survey
  • Eye scan
  • Turnstiles
  • Video cameras
  • Facebook comments/Twitter comments


Current Issues Worth Assessing

  • Food in the library
  • Noise
  • Cell phones
  • Should we allow food and coffee so it promotes a non punitive environment
  • Quiet vs. collaborative place

Obtaining data from our users

  • Student government
  • Student ambassadors
  • Library Advisory Group (with students and faculty)
  • Text a complaint
  • Analyse Facebook / Twitter /Instagram comments
  • Feedback from blog
  • Student experience survey
  • Faculty survey

Reflections on how to assess reference services

  • Try to understand students’ information seeking behaviour
  • LibAnswers- analyse reference desk transactions
  • Does signage reduce reference questions?
  • Perpetual beta- always test services & resources
  • Analyse online chat reference transactions (Question Point, etc)


Meeting adjourned at 6:30pm, Thursday April 25, 2013, minutes by M.A. Polger, ACRL/NY UX Co-Chair






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Discussion: Reference Services for Digital Natives

ACRL/NY User Experience Discussion Group
“Meet and Greet”
November 20, 2012
Mina Rees Library, CUNY Graduate Center

Co-Chairs: Mark Aaron Polger (CSI, CUNY) and Albert Tablante (ASA College)
Attendance: Karen Erani (independent), Starr Hoffman (U. of North Texas), Evan Frankl (Boricua College), Lily Rozaklis (Drexel University) , Zinnat Sultana (St. John’s University), Lisa Ryan (LIM College), Sue Hunter (Pace University), Benjamin Franz (Medgar Evers, CUNY), Judi Zupnick (independent), Linda Seckelson (The Met), Janice Dunham (John Jay College, CUNY), Cynthia McKeich (virtual- via Seneca College in Toronto, Canada)

Topic: How Do We Provide Reference Service to Digital Natives?
Introduction of ourselves
Issues Discussed
1. Orientation of reference desk (size, shape, location, height)
o Desk separates us from students (i.e. barrier)
o Furniture is often clunky
o Should we remove it?
o Collaborative workstations need further assessment
o Huge semi-circle?
o Does furniture affect the user experience?
o Wireless keyboards, mouse, swivel screens
o Large vs. small
o Eye-level or raised?
o Do we stand or sit down?
2. Services offered
3. Future of Reference Service

o Should reference desk be opened when library is opened or only part of the time?
o Types of questions asked (textbooks, logins, physical location of stacks, library catalog, etc)
o Who staffs the desk?
o Librarians or paraprofessionals or LIS students or I.T. staff?

4. Removal of reference desk and its implications (Queens College and Drexel University)

5. Roving reference service
o Where to do it?
o How to promote it?
o How do we measure its effectiveness?

6. Research Consultations as an alternative to reference services
o Individualized and more flexible
o Who staffs the desk and what types of questions are asked there?

7. Students can’t search
o Library catalog is confusing and not user friendly.
o Students think in keywords
o Millennials/Digital Natives are self-directed.
o Librarians should take advantage of a “teaching moment”
o We need to open their minds that not everything is online.

8. Digital natives resist the “teaching moments” of librarians. They think they know how to search independently.

9. Project Information Literacy (http://projectinfolit.org)- Millennials entering the workplace. Young white collar professionals lack research experiences. They think everything is on Google.

10. Assessment
o How?
o What?
o When?
o Where?

11. Does Library Instruction affect OR impact reference desk questions?

12. Creating LibGuides or Library instruction as a response to reference questions

13. Information Literacy/Library instruction
o One shot vs. for-credit (full semester) classes
o Class is not practical until there is an assignment

14. Library tour and welcome booklet
o Do we tailor the tour to respond to reference desk questions?

15. Embedded Reference Services (Roving Reference) in residence halls, academic departments, Librarian in-residence halls, Librarians walk around the library
o Need to determine how many hours per week
o Needs further preliminary research and assessment

16. Questions (technical, quick, in-depth)

17. Is Library opened beyond reference desk?
o Philosophically, the reference desk service ends when the library closes.

18. How do we communicate to our adjunct librarians so they are in the loop?
o Email, blog, wiki, etc.

19. Brand yourself
o Make yourself memorable
o Give yourself a distinct visual identity so the user always has a memorable and positive experience.

Meeting concluded at 6:30pm.

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Discussion: Signage

ACRL/NY User Experience Discussion Group

“Signage Audits”

Date: March 23,  2012

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Place: Grad Center, CUNY

Co-Chairs: Mark Aaron Polger and Albert Tablante


Present: Danise Hoover,  V. Heidi Hass, Faithe Ann Scobbo, Mark Aaron Polger, Albert Tablante, Simone Yearwood, Derek Sanderson, David Jenson, Linda Miles


Co-Chairs: Albert Tablante, Mark Aaron Polger,  Unofficial Meeting Notes: Mark Aaron Polger


  1. The group went around the table and introduced themselves. Each person contributed to the start of the discussion by explaining why they were interested in the discussion topic.
  2. Polger started to discussion and asked the group if anyone is going through a signage audit. Yearwood (QC) is Access Services Librarian at Queens College Library, CUNY and they are going through a major renovation project so they have the opportunity to evaluate signage.  Derek Sanderson (Mount Saint Mary College) serves on a signage committee, and Danise Hoover (Hunter College Library) deals with signage on a User Experience Committee at her library. Hunter College Library is also undergoing a renovation by changing the orientation of the entrance from the 3rd floor to 7th Mark Aaron Polger (CSI) talked about his recent signage audit with his colleague and discussed some of the issues involved.
  3. Each attendee spoke whether they have a signage committee at their library, or whether they participate in a signage committee, or whether a signage committee exists out of a larger committee.
  4. Some of the problems that relate to signage are:
    Too much signage
    4b. Conflicting messages
    4c. Students don’t read/respect/understand signs
    4d. Lack of consistent design, style
  5. Polger talked about his signage audit he worked on with his colleague at the College of Staten Island Library. They divided signs into different types (informational, policy, directional). They then developed a style guide that discussed best practices for font type, font colour, font size, branding issues, colour scheme, and placement of the library logo.  Danise Hoover talked about how each floor of the Hunter College Library is colour coded and the signs also reflect the different floor colour.  Polger also emphasized that he is trying to develop signs that do not contain the words “no”.
  6. The group discussed their use of policy signage for food, drink, cell phone use, and noise. Some libraries allow food and drink, while other libraries do not.   One person noted that they took photos of the garbage and food leftovers and posted signs that indicate, “Be proud of your library, don’t let your library look like this” (relating to photos of garbage and food leftovers).  These subtle messages may be viewed as both helpful and educational, or subtly manipulative.  The group ended the discussion by discussing a larger problem; student behaviour in the library.  The bigger discussion is; should librarians and libraries be responsible for addressing student behaviour?   In order to respect signs, students need to know HOW to behave in college libraries.  Discussion group adjourned at 5:30pm.
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Discussion: LibGuides

ACRL/NY User Experience Discussion Group

“Meet and Greet”

Date: Oct 7,  2011

Time: 9:15am-10:45am

Place: Mercy College

Co-Chairs: Mark Aaron Polger and Albert Tablante

Guest: Stephen Francoeur, User Experience Librarian at Newman Library, Baruch College, CUNY.



Present: Lauren Yannotta, Judith Schwartz, Danise Hoover, Linda Miles, Danielle Becker, Zinnat Sultana, Faithe Ann Scobbo, Jenna Rey Greer, Romel Espinel, Catherine Stern, Stephen Francoeur, Anne Swain, Linda Perahia, Zaakea Al-Barati, Carmen Hendershot, Gloria Meisel,


Co-Chairs: Albert Tablante, Mark Aaron Polger

Meeting Summary: Mark Aaron Polger



  1. Stephen Francoeur gave an engaging discussion of mobile-friendly LibGuides and mobile friendly databases. He illustrated that students don’t want to peruse the A-Z listing of databases but want a selected list of mobile-friendly databases to be accessed on their mobile devices. He informed the group that Google Chrome best mimics the mobile experience when testing whether a web site will work on a mobile device.


  1. For those who do not subscribe to Libguides, it is $1500/yr (approximately) and there is an e-reserves module that can be added.LibGuides can be tailored for course specific instruction. Content authors log in through a content management system to add content without needing to know HTML.


  1. Queensborough Community College Library’s entire web site is a LibGuide. Brooklyn College Library uses their own “home made” version of LibGuides called “SRMS” and their entire web site uses the “SRMS” system. The College of Staten Island Library’s list of research guides also uses Brooklyn College Library’s “SRMS” home made system.


4.      Steven Bell , Associate University Librarian for Research & Instructional Services at Temple University’s Paley Library, a well known speaker and researcher with usability testing, has done usability testing on Research Guides. He found that students don’t like to scroll and that the LibGuide content should be right on the screen for users to access. Bell is also cited for encouraging librarians to teach from specific web sites and not from LibGuide pages.  LibGuides pages should be considered a “Springboard” page where users access for short periods of time.


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Discussion: Web Site Vocabulary

ACRL/NY User Experience Discussion Group

Date: March 23, 2011

Time: 6:30-8:30

Place: CUNY Graduate Center

Co-Chairs: Mark Aaron Polger and Albert Tablante

Minutes of the meeting: Albert Tablante

Present: Loretta Merlo, Mike Handis, Judi Zupnick, Wendy Chu, Yvonne Palmer, Shirley Zhao, Alison Loto, Gina Levitan, Stefanie Havelka, Karen Erani, Albert Tablante, Mark Aaron Polger

  1. Student preferences to language on library web sites :  jargon or plain language ?

The group discussed the verbiage on library web sites. One such examples was: should the wording in the OPAC be changed from Library Catalog to “Find Books”.  Students and librarians think differently.  Some members felt that library websites should accommodate the user, which in this case are the students.  That being the case, the terminology should be in common language that would make the user experience more effective and efficient.   Other points of view included: not dumbing down the terms used.  It can be argued that by changing the verbiage to plain language, the information might be dummed down.   Some felt that some library terms should not be oversimplified while some words could be changed to plain language for ease of use. It was also discussed that developing a glossary on the library’s web site could help with explaining difficult terms.

  1. The overall user experience of a library web site.


The library web site may be the 1st and only impression some students have of the library.  Millennials or digital natives are not as technically savvy as they think they are.  The language needs to be consistent on library links.  It helps if the overall visual look is consistent as well.  This can be a challenge because of some library websites are developed using different software leading to inconsistent visual images.  Breadcrumbs can help users in navigating library web pages.  By leaving a trail, the user can retrace steps if they are lost.

  •   Usability of non library web pages.

We discussed the usability of Lexis Nexis and other sites such as Noodletools.com.  We also discussed the usability of web sites when we provide Library instruction. We discussed hoax web sites which have good design but the content is false.   Some examples discussed were : would be http://www.ding.net/bonsaikitten/, http://MartinLutherKing.org, http://manhattanairport.org  and http://malepregnancy.org .  These web sites are useful in demonstrating to students that savvy and slick web sites are often false.

  1. User experience of students relating to “library signage.” 


Some members said that there are too many signs in their libraries.  The signs are not consistent in their messages and visual “look”.  This makes the library user un-friendly. One member mentioned that book stores are a good model for comparison.

  1. The importance of “branding”

Branding relates with many of the themes in this meeting: consistent images, logos, terminology and messages. These help to create a more positive user experience.  Inconsistency in web design and language adds to user frustration and confusion.

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