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LibGuides & AZ Database List UX Study

In December 2017, the UX Team wanted to understand how students experienced the library’s LibGuides & the A-Z Database List.

Research Questions

  • How do students discover and use LibGuides & the A-Z Database List?
  • How do students respond to the layout, organization, tone, and content of the LibGuides & the A-Z Database List?


  • We conducted usability tests with 11 students.
  • We conducted a literature review of recently published articles on user testing of LibGuides.
  • We used Hotjar, a website analytics software, to track how users navigate the Cite Your Sources: APA topic guide, one of our more popular guides.

What did we Learn?

  • Few participants had ever used a LibGuide before.
  • Most participants used Primo to start their research.
  • Students found Guides difficult to locate on our website, navigate within, and read.
  • Students could not describe the difference between Course, Topic, and Subject guides.
  • Students seemed to prefer the two column layout. It was less overwhelming.
  • Students were disoriented when they landed on a guide. What is its purpose? Why should it be trusted? How should it be used? What do the headings (ie. Top Picks: Background Information) mean?

Our Recommendations

  • Explore how LibGuides can be more visible on the library website
  • Explore how LibGuides can appear more integrated with the library website (i.e. library website framing the guides)
  • Explore integration of course reserves into course guides just as the integration of course guides into course reserves is already underway
  • Prioritize the most relevant resources on course guides and put them at the top. More generic sources (such as Oxford Reference, etc.) are a lower priority
  • Ensure that all links to guides on the library website use consistent language
  • Further reflect on how to position the guides for students when Primo seems to be students’ starting (and ending) point in research
  • Consider creating a video explaining the use, purpose, and breadth of guides
Year of Study: