Catherine Ebenezer
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The following literature review was excised from an article submitted to Health Information and Libraries Journal, and is made available here, at the reviewer's request:

In developing the web site, material on design and management of web sites for libraries and information services, general literature and guidelines on web site design and navigation, and heuristic checklists were considered. The NHS Web site identity guidelines as then extant [i] were not rigidly adhered to, because they were perceived to be too limiting. In planning the usability study, overviews of web site usability issues and individual usability testing methodologies in general, their applicability, uses and limitations, [ii] [iii] [iv] [v] [vi] and accounts of individual library web site usability studies [vii] [viii] [ix] [x] were used extensively. 

A number of studies have focused on evaluating the content and design of library web sites. Whalen [xi] carried out a brief qualitative study of academic and public library site features. Stover and Zink [xii] developed an evaluation tool for the design of library home pages based on contemporary guidelines, and evaluated the home pages of 40 American and Canadian higher education libraries. Clyde [xiii] carried out a content analysis of school and public and library web sites in 13 countries. 

Quintana [xiv] developed a set of content and design principles for health web sites and used them to evaluate ten well-known services. Cottrell and Eisenberg [xv] developed a six-factor framework for web site evaluation and organisation. Cohen and Still [xvi] carried out a comparison of the web sites of research university and two-year college library web sites, evaluating them in terms of their provision of information about their services and their support for reference, research and instruction, and of particular features of their design and functionality. Misic and Johnson [xvii] carried out a comprehensive benchmarking exercise comparing web sites of business schools. Dewey [xviii] studied the findability of links on the library web pages of members of an American university consortium. Sowards [xix], in a highly detailed study, established a theoretical typology for library guides to web resources in terms of their depth, organisation and design fea,tures. Osorio [xx] provides a useful literature review and an account of a content and design evaluation carried out on 45 science and engineering libraries. The only work relating to health libraries appears to be that of Tannery, who analysed American academic medical centre libraries, establishing a method for characterising and describing their design and content. [xxi] 

Although usability evaluation is an important component of web site evaluation and redesign, there are relatively few published studies of re-design projects relating to library web sites that make extensive use of formal usability methods, and those that do all relate to large American or Canadian academic libraries. An important study by McGillis and Toms of the Memorial University of Newfoundland library web site has recently been published. [xxii]

Veldof [xxiii] offers a general overview of usability testing of electronic library services. McCready [xxiv] describes a library web site redesign at Marquette University that depended exclusively on focus groups. There is little of specific relevance to health libraries other than the recent work of Fuller and Hinegardner, which appeared too late to inform the project. [xxv]


[i] Department of Health. NHS identity guidelines: web sites [WWW document]. 2000. URL These have subsequently been revised.  

[ii] Bernstein, M. Judging web sites: usability or criticism? [WWW document]. 2000.URL

[iii] Campbell, N, Walbridge, S, Chisman, J, Diller, KR. Discovering the user: a practical glance at usability testing. Electronic Library 1999 17(5) 307-311

[iv] Campbell, N, Chisman, J, Diller, KR, Walbridge, S. Usability assessment methodologies. In: Campbell, N, Chisman, J, Diller, KR, Walbridge, S.  Designing for the user: how to test for usability: A preconference at ACRL X: Crossing the Divide, Washington State University, March 15, 2001 [WWW document]. URL

[v] Spool, JM (1998). Web site usability: a designerís guide. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann, 1998; Spool, JM. 2001. The usability of usability [WWW document]. URL 

[vi] Cardwell, C, Hunker, SD. Necessary steps in library web site revision: previewing and beta-testing. In: IOLS 2000 proceedings: New York, May 17-18th, 2000. Medford: Information Today, 2000; pp. 23-33

[vii] Dewey, BI. In search of services: findability of links on CIC university librariesí web pages. Information Technology and Libraries 1999 18(4) 210-213   

[viii] Dickstein, R, Mills, V. Usability testing at the University of Arizona library: how to let the users in on the design. Information Technology and Libraries 2000 19(3). Also at URL

[ix] Hennig, N. Card sorting usability tests of the MIT Libraries' web site: categories from the users' point of view. In: Campbell, N, editor. Usability Assessment of Library-Related Web Sites: Methods and Case Studies. LITA Guide 7. Chicago: LITA, 2001; p. 88-99 

[x] McMullen, S. Usability testing in a library web site redesign project. Reference Services Review 2001 29 (1): 7-22 

[xi] Whalen J. 1996. A study of library web sites [WWW document]. URL 

[xii] Stover, M, Zink, SD. World Wide Web home page design: patterns and anomalies of higher education library home pages. Reference Services Review 1996 24(3) 7-20 

[xiii] Clyde, LA. The library as information provider: the home page. Electronic Library 1996 14(6) 549-558 

[xiv] Quintana, Y, Bardyn, T. Evaluating health libraries on the World Wide Web: design guidelines and future development. Biblioteca Medica Canadiana 1996 18(2) 61-64. Also URL 

[xv] Cottrell, J, Eisenberg, MB (1997). Web site design for information problem-solving: maximizing value for users. Computers in Libraries 1997 17(5) 52-57   

[xvi] Cohen, LB, Still, JM (1999). A comparison of research university and two-year college library web sites: content, functionality and form. College and Research Libraries 1999 60(3) 275-289 

[xvii] Misic, MM, Johnson, KL (1999). Benchmarking: a tool for web site evaluation and improvement. Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy 1999 9(5) 383-392 

[xviii] Dewey, BI. In search of services: analysing the findability of links on CIC university librariesí web pages. Information Technology and Libraries 1999 18(4) December 210-213 

[xix] Sowards, SW. A typology for ready reference web sites in libraries [online serial]. First Monday 1998 3(5). URL 

[xx] Osorio, N. Web sites of science-engineering libraries: an analysis of content and design [serial online]. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship 2001 Winter. URL 

[xxi] Tannery, NH. Academic medical center libraries on the Web. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 1998 86(4) 541-543. 

[xxii] McGillis, L, Toms, EG. Usability of the academic library web site: implications for design.College and Research Libraries 2001 62 355-367 

[xxiii] Veldof, JR. Build it right: user centered design for library tutorials and home pages: invited session for WILSWorld 1999 Conference in Madison, Wisconsin (June 7, 1999) [WWW document]. URL 

[xxiv] McCready, K. Designing and redesigning: Marquette librariesí web site. Library Hi Tech 1997 15(3/4) 83-89 

[xxv] Fuller, DM, Hinegardner, PG. Ensuring quality Website redesign: the University of Marylandís experience. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 2001 89(4) 339-345 

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