Search Results: Prototypes, Analysis & Inspiration

As we continue our redesign, we’re getting some really helpful feedback on our mockups for item pages. By all means, keep it coming! Here are some new prototypes for our search results screens, as well as our analysis of our current search results and examples of others systems we like. What do you think?



There are five examples here; some are searching across all collections and others are searching within a single collection. Particular areas of interest for us: location of the ‘Narrow by’ facets, display of results for matching digital collections or matching digital exhibits, collection branding & info.


View this feedback (Search Results (Cross-Collection): Existing Interface) on Notable
Here’s what we have learned about our search interface from our various evaluation methods:

Web Analytics

  1. About 75% of searches are within-collection searches; 25% are cross-collection.
  2. The majority of searches are for various topics, though many users search for items from a particular decade (“1920s”), format (“advertisements”), or collection (“Gamble”).
  3. Some users attempt to retrieve every item possible through search (“*”, “all”, “a”)

Usability Tests (Spring 2008)

Continue reading Search Results: Prototypes, Analysis & Inspiration

Item Pages – Prototypes


We have learned a lot about how to improve our item pages and we’ve gathered great examples from around the web as inspiration.  We’re now ready to share some wireframe prototypes.

There are four different wireframe prototypes here. Use the ‘Jump To’ section at the top to look at versions A, B, C, and D.  Preferences? Ideas? Concerns? Questions? Let us know what you think!

In addition to incorporating the feedback and ideas we’ve gathered so far, here are a few additional key things these designs attempt to address:
Continue reading Item Pages – Prototypes

Search Analysis: What We’ve Learned

Stop searching for records- just flip a lever; Ad*Access. Item R0712.

We’re taking a user-centered approach in planning the new Digital Collections web interface to ensure that our new design meets the needs and expectations of the people who use it.  One way to discover those needs is to analyze our web traffic in an attempt to decipher user intent when searching and browsing materials in our site.  Valuable patterns exist in this data that can help us optimize the site’s utility and performance by supporting actual user information-seeking behaviors.  Lou Rosenfeld recently wrote a terrific blog post about this “bottom-up analysis” on A List Apart.

Using aggregated data from Google Analytics, we studied searches performed in our site from the period between May 1st and November 1st this year.  We found that Duke Digital Collections was searched approximately 131,000 times during this six month period; that’s an average of 717 searches per day.  The average user spent about three minutes on the site after entering his or her search query and viewed nearly four pages.  Visitors also adjusted their searches with keyword refinement 26% of the time. Continue reading Search Analysis: What We’ve Learned

Secrets of Duke Digital Collections … Revealed!

Her secret is glamour

How do we make Duke Digital Collections happen?  Well, obviously, our secret is glamour, which comes as no surprise to those of you who know us.  But as with Miss Denney in this advertisement from our Ad*Access collection, there’s a bit more to it than that, and it takes a lot of work to get there, especially since we try to avoid disturbing fatigue lines and “crepey throat” along the way.  (We know this ad is tiny here, but trust us, it’s worth clicking on to experience its full glory.)

We were recently asked to write about the Duke Digital Collections program for the Duke University Libraries Magazine.  The results appear in five articles in the Fall 2009 issue of the magazine, and you can read them online here.  Among other things, you can read about the history of digitization at Duke, the global reach of our digital collections, the creative interfaces we use to open the doors to our collections, the behind-the-scenes steps in the creation of a new digital collection, and how our digital collections are being used in the classroom.

Thanks to our friends at the magazine for giving us the opportunity to talk about the Duke Digital Collections program!

Item Pages: Inspiring Sites

"Who knows, perhaps you may inspire poetry." Ad*Access. Item BH1517.

Before designing new item pages for our Digital Collections site redesign, we looked around the web to find exemplary sites to inspire us as we apply what we have learned while assessing our current item pages.

We looked for sites where items are presented with both clarity and context. We also looked for sites that present obvious ways to interact with an item (such as comment on it, bookmark it, or get a closer look) or help people discover related items to keep them engaged with exploring the site.

We love digital collections sites that are comparable to ours and have included some good ones here, but we were sure to look beyond library sites for inspiration as well. Sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Amazon are familiar to far more people than library sites, and their design patterns condition us all with certain expectations when we encounter any new or unfamiliar site. The goal is to find good example solutions to the challenges present in each aspect of the design, and to use the best parts of each for inspiration.
Continue reading Item Pages: Inspiring Sites

AdViews: 3,000 New Commercials, Improved Access

AdViews: American Dental AssociationI’m excited to announce that we’ve launched 3,000 new commercials in the AdViews digital collection on iTunes U.

This includes over 50 new products and brands, such as the American Association of Railroads, Burma Shave, Bounce, Eastern Airlines, Folgers, Glade, Pepto-Bismol, Prell, Sanka, and Zest. We’ve also added many new commercials for Crest, some fantastic Hasbro toy commercials from the 1970s, and much more.

The AdViews Highlights album now features over 40 commercials with closed captioning and audio descriptions created by the National Center for Accessible Media for users with hearing or vision impairments. Users can take advantage of these accessibility features using the Preferences and Controls menus in iTunes. We’ve also improved the indexing of the collection, making it easier to search for and discover AdViews content from the Libraries website.

Many thanks to Duke Libraries staff and interns, to Duke OIT, and to A/V Geeks for their excellent contributions to the project.

The digital collections team will promote some new AdViews commercials during the next few weeks on Twitter — follow us!

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)

Continue reading Item Pages: What We’ve Learned

Redesigning Duke Digital Collections

This fall, we’re redesigning the web interface to our Digital Collections.  And we want your help.

We unveiled our current interface back in January 2008, starting with a modest six collections, mostly of photographs and other images.  The system/website we built was pretty sufficient for that group of content.  It did some things well that marked significant progress at the time: it let you search across collections, it gave you facets to narrow your search results, and it gave you nicely bookmarkable URLs for items and search results.

Fast forward 18 months to today.  Our Digital Collections Program is firmly established and clicking on all cylinders (see our past blog posts for a recap of the past year & a half).  We’re now hosting almost 30 collections in this system, and we’re introducing new collections all the time.  We have a diverse and growing range of digital formats like videos and books.   We have explored hosting content in places like YouTube, iTunes, Flickr, and Internet Archive.  The Web has been rapidly evolving around us.  And our site has now been around long enough for us–and our users–to have kicked its proverbial tires to get a good sense of what it’s doing well versus where it’s falling short.  It’s getting pretty clear that we have outgrown this site.  It’s time to take it to the next level.

It’s the perfect time for a redesign.  Change is in the air.  Our team has been working hard on building our new repository, metadata editor tool, and index (Codename: Trident), and all that behind-the-scenes wizardry opens up a wealth of opportunities for improving the ways that you, as someone who uses our website, will be able to discover our digital treasures.

We have some ideas of our own for improvements, and we’ll share them here on the blog shortly.  But we really want to hear from you about your ideas.  Join in the conversation here on this blog in the comments section.  Tune into this new category (Website Redesign), where we’ll share information throughout the fall, including updates, mockups, analysis, and more.   You can also give us feedback privately at this page, if you prefer.  Everything’s fair game, from aesthetics to information organization to functionality.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon!