Item Pages: What We’ve Learned

We have been assessing our web interface to Digital Collections for some time using a healthy variety of evaluation techniques and soliciting ideas for a new & improved interface. Let’s first take a look at our item pages, with an annotated review of our current site:

<a href=”” mce_href=””>View this feedback (Item Page – Existing Interface) on Notable</a>

Here’s what we have learned about the item pages, broken down by source:

Web Analytics

  1. Our most-accessed items get viewed mostly via external links, especially from social media tools (like StumbleUpon) and Google Images.
  2. More than 3/4 of item page views are for the medium image view as opposed to the details view.

Usability Tests (Spring 2008)

  1. Users recognized the social media tools we chose to put in the ‘Add To’ section, but didn’t anticipate using those particular services.
  2. Users were able to easily toggle between the details and the image view.

Feedback Forms and Other User Feedback

  1. It’s good to have multiple image sizes available.
  2. It’s unclear how to get to all of the details for an item.

Interviews with our Collection Sponsors

Desired improvements:

  1. A comment box on items for users to contribute information.
  2. Better page-turning for multi-paged items.
  3. A way to get a citation for each item.
  4. Connection to info about item’s archival source collection.
  5. Easier printing, especially for multi-page items.
  6. Clear display options for seeing the item and/or its metadata.
  7. Multiple export options–especially for multi-page items.
  8. Cleaner metadata display, separating technical from descriptive metadata.
  9. Customized presentation of items for certain collections or item types.
  10. Clarity to user what the rights / acceptable uses are for each item.
  11. A way for items to be identified as part of more than one ‘collection’, especially broader collections like ‘documentary photographs’ or ‘moving images.’

CIT’s Ideas for Helping our Images be Used for Instruction

  1. Integration w/social media tools (like ShareThis) and blogging platforms.
  2. A ‘download’ button (where allowed) w/multiple size options, esp for use in PPT.
  3. Copyable ‘Embed code,’ including citation.

Other Ideas from the Implementation Team

To accompany all the ideas and info gathered above, here are a few additional ideas we’ve had in our implementation team discussions:

  1. Ability to export items in PDF, especially for multi-paged items
  2. Automatically-generated ‘Related Items
  3. Integration with our internal metadata editor so staff can edit from public interface
  4. Permalinks with URL handler
  5. Full-text display alongside images where available
  6. Aesthetics: page should be wider; item title needs more prominence

Now, what do we do with all this feedback? First, we’ll share good example interfaces from around the web that tackle some of these same issues in various ways. Once we’re feeling fully inspired, we’ll draw up some prototypes to share. Stay tuned!

3 thoughts on “Item Pages: What We’ve Learned”

  1. Really helpful, Sean — this is good practice for all assessment projects. We’ll have to follow your lead as we interview students and faculty on the effectiveness of the “Search Resources” section of the homepage (currently underway). And I look forward to seeing your prototypes (after you’re fully inspired, of course…). 🙂

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