We have been undertaking two JISC projects: UX2 and AquaBrowserUX. Both of these projects are addressing user-centric issues surrounding the development and provision of digital library systems. In general, digital libraries (DLs) have become increasingly complex in terms of scope and nature, from a variety of repositories to virtual environments (see a previous post). New ways of providing user interface and user experience have emerged, for example the use of AJAX, novel interaction patterns (e.g. mspace) and a multitude of user-centric 'rehash' of traditional library practices (e.g. tagging, folksonomy).
These developments present challenges to institutions and wider communities involving in digital library developments. Usability is one of the challenges. There have been significant investments in new technology developments in the JISC Community. If these developments especially those in the guise of 'rapid innovation', are to achieve full impacts, they must be usable and widely taken up by the intended users. Usefulness is another key aspect. A well implemented and usable system may be irrelevant if it is not required or useful to the users in real-use and beyond proof-of-concept scenarios.
The projects attempt to tackle these issues and involve deliverables ranging from technology development to usability and evaluation studies (see the plans of UX2 and AquaBrowserUX). This post considers the wider implications and benefits of the project outputs with respect to the institution associated with the project - the University of Edinburgh, and wider communities.