Website Updates: Library Site Header & Footer

As most of you know, the Web Team is using an iterative approach to the Library site redesign: we launched a pretty good version of the site, and make incremental improvements as we learn more about what is/is not working for our users.

With that in mind, we will introduce changes to the header and footer on Monday, May 22:

Finding All Hours Information

A few weeks ago, we introduced changes to how branch hours are displayed. These changes were sparked when user testing revealed that while our patrons appreciate seeing today’s hours in the header, users interested in future hours were more likely to go to a branch page.

Another key takeaway from that round of testing was that the All Hours link at the top of every page did not look like a link to most users.

We tested different solutions, and the most successful design brings back the horizontal layout from the old site, and replaces the All Hours text link with an obvious button. While the button was far more visible to those who want to see all hours, the majority of testers still sought hours information at the branch level, not the global level.

Redesigning the way hours display at the top of the site meant finding a new place for the Search this website feature. Our first impulse was to find a way to keep it in the header. However, by taking a close look at our site search analytics we discovered that many users were mistaking our website search for an articles/database/catalog search, entering queries like PMID numbers and article titles. Our solution is to move the Search this website field to the site footer, grouping it with the rest of the About the Library information.

Site search in footer is a common web design pattern, and the bonus is our users will see the more sought-after articles/database/catalog search first.  We’ll keep an eye on our search analytics to see if this cuts down on the number of off-target searches.

A More Usable Mobile Site

Finally, the changes above go a long way to fixing some of the known issues with how our site works on mobile devices. The logo, hours info, site search, and exposed menus push the page content out of view on smartphones, forcing users to immediately scroll if they’re interested in anything besides hours and menus.

We weighed the benefits of having hours and menus always visible (as they are on tablet and desktop) against immediately bringing the page into view.

We decided to prioritize the page content; the simplified mobile header, with its collapsed menu bar, button-ized hours link, and relocated site search, now brings the main content of every page into a smartphone user’s view.


Customer-facing staffers should note these changes, in case our users have questions. Please slack or email the web team with their comments; and as always, we want to hear from you too!