Library Website Information Architecture Redesign


This project required redesigning the information architecture for a library website that had not been updated in quite some time. We worked on this project from the premise that we were independent IA consultants helping a library on a rather small budget.

Tasks included creating a project proposal, conducting user interviews and a literature review


  1. Complete a total redesign of the information architecture of a library website.
  2. Gain insights about the goals users have, the most common tasks they want to achieve, what information they seek out, and how they use that information.
  3. Learn about and develop an initial understanding of what the stakeholder wanted to accomplish, reflect that understanding back to the stakeholder, and provide the stakeholder with a description of my approach to tackling the problem.
  4. Conduct a combination of field research and literature review.

User Research

The research conducted was a combination of interviews and literature reviews. Three participants were recruited that work in libraries and have knowledge of library users’ behaviors, needs, and challenges. Three different publications regarding libraries and their user bases were analyzed in addition
to the interviews.

The research revealed a broad and diverse spectrum of what constitutes a typical library user. Additionally, insights were gained about the goals users have, the most common tasks they want to achieve, what information they seek out, and how they use that information.

Common Tasks of Users

• search catalog for books and DVDs
• place holds or reserve items online
• renew items online
• seek out and register for events
• gain computer/internet access
• research and homework assistance via database searches
• find book recommendations
• find library hours
• use streaming services such as Hoopla and Kanopy
• seek help with technology, such as e-readers

Less Common Tasks of Users

• help with resumes
• computer training
• use of streaming services such as Hoopla
• checking out non-book physical items such as hotspots and blood pressure cuffs
• using the library as a quiet place to read a newspaper
• researching ancestry

Common Goals

• gain job skills
• complete school work
• find suitable books and movies for selves or children
• learn skills related to crafting or making
• experience culture through events
• find a job
• learn to use various types of technology
• attend events or entertainment, such as live music
• find physical materials such as books and DVDs
• stream music, films, and television series
• find quiet spaces to read items like newspapers

User Personas

Primary Personas
Pam the Power User
Maya the Multitasker Student
Andrew the Attorney
Secondary Personas
Rick the Retiree
Mariana the Job Seeker
Ellen the Event Seeker

Task List

Content Inventory and Analysis

After building user personas and a task priority list, the existing website content was cataloged in an inventory. The purpose of this process was to understand which content should be kept as it is, which should be revised, which content does not fit into the new information architecture. Also, the content inventory helped determine which content was needed that does not yet exist. This content inventory then acted as a guide for creating a new classification scheme and a new site map.

Content Organization: Classification Scheme and Site Map

The existing classification scheme still makes sense for the needs of Billings Public Library, but it requires some reorganization and relabeling. This is why it is recommended to continue using a subject-based classification scheme as the top layer with a more exact, hierarchical scheme used for filtering through the library catalog and databases.

The new library website sitemap is based on a subject-based classification scheme. It is designed to enable users to more easily find and navigate the site in a way that allows them to complete their most common tasks. The new site map will be tested in the coming weeks using Treejack to understand if users can navigate the site efficiently, understand the new labeling system, and can find information based on the hierarchy of the site map.

Library Site Map

Usability Testing

The first iteration of the site map was constructed based on user personas and user task requirements. A revised site map and classification schemes were uploaded to Treejack, which was used to conduct user testing. The results of the tests helped to make revisions for the new iteration of the site map and classification schemes.

Usability Testing Overview
  • Six participants took part in testing the usability of the new library website site map and classification scheme.
  • Participants attempted to complete five scenario-based tasks
  • 5 of 6 participants successfully located a non-fiction children’s book.
  • 5 of 6 participants were able to locate the library hours with one success being indirect.
  • 4 of 6 participants found events for adults via a direct route.
  • 4 of 6 participants located where to go to stream a film via a direct route.
  • 0 of 6 participants were able to find the correct location to research genealogy.

• Users were confused that genealogy resources were not under the main research label instead of another research label within the digital library.
• Items that fall under research will be moved to the main research label and out of the digital library.
• Additional revisions have been made to the site map to reduce how many levels users must go to complete tasks. The expectation is this effort will reduce the average overall search times.

Wireframe of Homepage and Key Workflows

Lessons Learned

  • Interviewing experts or those with special knowldge about specific group of users can garner a lot of information with a small amount of interviews.
  • If you are working with a small budget, interviewing the right people can still produce great benefit and insight in a group of users. I didn’t realize how much can be achieved on a UX project with limited resources if you follow solid methodolgy.
  • This was the most extensive project I worked on during my time in the Kent State graduate program. This provided the opportuntity to work on the largest variety of user experience tasks. The specific experience of conducting and analyzing research solidified my thoughts on wanting to focus on user research in the future.
  • It was surprising how much was accomplsihed on a small budget and limited timeframe. This project helped highlight just how impactful user experience design can be. It gives a great sense of inspiration to know that we have the ability to make such an impact.