Horizontal Tabs (Iterations)

In addition to removing the “Library Web Pages” tab from the horizontal navigation, there was much discussion about renaming/reorganizing/simplifying the main top horizontal navigation tabs. Because the current tabs span the width of the page, they resemble  navigation menu, and we speculated that this may be why users are expecting the main content to change with each tab selection.

We felt it was important, at minimum, to rename the “Everything” tab to “Any Resources” or something similar. One of our first iterations included drastically simplifying the tab structure to include just three tabs, and using the space within the search box to specify what resources type will be included in this search.

Current library gateway with seven horizontal tabs

Close-up of horizontal tabs.

However, we are undecided as to if a reduction in search tabs will confuse users further. The former Library Gateway included multiple search tabs, however, the tabs had slightly different names (“Easy Search”, “Books”, “Journals”, “Reserves”, “Other”). Therefore, it is possible that language is causing confusion, and not the presence of the tabs.

Moving forward with the reduced tab concept, we created the first iteration of the design (above). The three tab model was inspired by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s library website and our own Undergraduate Library’s website. (See our Competitive Analysis post for more on our assessment of the UNC library and other university libraries’ websites.) The books, journals, and media tabs are consolidated in to one “Catalog” tab, and the “Articles” and “Reserves” tabs remain. We worried that a user, seeing “Articles” as the only specifically listed catalog resource, would wonder, “I can search articles, but how can I search books?”

Our next iteration kept the three-tab search structure, but changed the names of the tabs:

Because “Journals’ searches a different set of databases than the other tabs, this iteration replaces “Articles” with “Journals” for the stand-alone resource tab. “Everything” is re-inserted, but includes “Easy Search” in the same tab. Therefore,  the usability pitfalls of “Everything” tab, as encountered in our user studies, is avoided. We noticed that “Easy Search” is how the old library gateway labelled their “Everything” tab, which is a better, more catalog-specific word than “Everything”:

The old library gateway page. (http://www.library.illinois.edu/)

Currently, we are undecided about the three-tab search design, and have agreed that a user test on this design is the ideal way to determine if this structure reduces or adds confusion to the search process. We will be interested to read our classmates’ input on this.

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