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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > October 2016

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Vol. 36 No. 8 — October 2016
Kicking It Up a Notch
by Dick Kaser

I had a couple of retro ecommerce experiences this summer: Websites (Home Decorators Collection and Jockey) failed at checkout. I thought I was back in 1999, when you had to really want to live life on the bleeding edge of technology to put up with the slow loads, random system failures, screen freezes, and crashes.

We, as 21st-century web users, are now spoiled to death by search engines such as Google that return answers instead of long lists and apps that turn previously arduous tasks into seamless transactions. Some patrons entering the library are experienced internet and mobile app users and expect the same high-performance and hassle-free interaction with information resources in the library that they are accustomed to in the “real world.”

Some may come because it’s their only way to get on the internet. In which case, the experience the library delivers is the internet. But when a patron sits down at a public access computer, does he or she get the thrill of going online? Or is the patron left pulling out hairs? In this issue on improving the user experience (UX) with library systems, Peter Brandt leads off with a discussion of how to give your patrons a real (clean and secure) browser that refreshes completely every time the public machine turns over.

Michael Schofield tells you how to evaluate proposed user enhancements to see if they will really count in users’ minds. Sonya Schryer Norris describes how her library assessed user needs and then tweaked the Encore Duet platform to deliver a better UX. And Matt Gallagher describes how to evaluate whether you ought to just ditch your ILS for a whole new next-gen library platform.

In recent years, our UX track at Internet Librarian in Monterey, Calif., has become one of the most popular places for conference delegates to congregate. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, pack your bags, head out to the West Coast later this month, and network with those who share your desire to improve the experience users have with your systems and websites.

Or if you’d rather come to London, Internet Librarian International (ILI) occurs simultaneously this year, with lots of rich content on innovative ways to improve the experience patrons have in your library. For more information and to register for either event, visit the ILI website. Hope to see you there.

Dick Kaser, Executive Editor

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