Library building hours are notoriously complex and the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries is no exception with ten different library locations. Some contain multiple service points that have differing hours. In this project, I led the implementation of a new hours system and redesign.
An outside developer built out a Drupal hours module and customized it for a website redesign in 2018, before I worked at Indiana University (IU). Unfortunately, we were constantly logging and fixing bugs related to this module. The current tool just couldn’t handle the complexity of library location hours: some hours were open 24/5, some closed for a lunch hour on weekdays, some had different service point hours within the same location.
On the backend, the interface was so complex that my department (Discovery & User Experience or DUX) updated hours content on our own which created a bottleneck of information, especially on days when hours information changed (bad weather, a pipe bursts in a building, etc.). Library location managers did not have direct control over how their hours appeared on the library website.
- Usability testing
- User personas
User researcher, UX designer, and project manager.
Some library location managers were already maintaining hours in another application called LibCal to manage room reservations. To streamline hours information, I decided that we would build an API to pull in hours from LibCal on the library’s website. Some research uncovered that the University of Arizona Libraries had recently completed a similar hours overhaul on their Drupal website. I reached out to their UX department head and they happily shared the module code which was built as a React JS component pulling data from a LibCal API. We also decided to keep some of the design elements that the University of Arizona used because our user needs closely matched the user stories they identified, specifically the desire for three distinct views: today view, weekly view, monthly view.
There are some specific design and content elements of this hours redesign project that responded to user requests.
- Wait, which libraries are we talking about? Indiana University Bloomington has a really complex ecosystem of collections, museums, archives, and libraries and DUX only manages the websites and hours for ten of them. So at the top of the hours page there is a link to a new page we created of “Other Campus Libraries”.
- A single hours home page. Our previous Drupal module only displayed a location’s hours on that locations home page so a user couldn’t scroll through and compare any library hours side-by-side. In this redesign, a single hours home page linked and referenced in the library menu navigation made sure that users could easily navigate to whatever hours information they wanted with one click from any library web page.
- Put the information one place: the best place. With the previous hours module, there was a footer feature with a dropdown on every page that showed library location hours. On many pages this was a duplication of information because there was either a duplicate header on the top of the page as well (see GIF visualization below showing both hour modules on the old library home page).
Analysis of Jira tickets of the library website show an 80% reduction in developer time spent on library hours related bugs and issues since implementation.
Who doesn’t want fewer frantic emails during a snowstorm? I know my department did. With our old hours feature, DUX had to create and manage all hours information because the library website backend was so confusing. But this meant that all hours information had to go through my small department and this created a delay in accurate hours. With a new hours feature pulling data from LibCal, we created documentation, established guidelines and best practices, and over two semesters the content strategist I manage trained all library location managers to input and update their own hours.