As with many other aspects of the library gateway, any redesign of the vertical tab layout has to keep as its overall aim presenting users with just the right amount of information.
There seems to be general agreement, among both the users we tested and those in class how commented on our initial iterations, that the present layout tries to incorporate too much and bears some unnecessary redundancies. Others, though, rightly pointed out that a certain amount of overlap is useful for different users, who will expect to find the same information in different places.
Some, for example, will attempt to resolve the information need more or less corresponding to “employment” by looking under the tab/category “About the Library;” others, in contrast, will look under “Resources For…” and find the same link, this time with the title “Those looking for employment.”
[Redesigned vertical tabs: “about the library” moved to second spot, “browse by subject” removed]
As we noted in our last iteration of the vertical tabbed layout, the “Most Popular Resources” tab and its accompanying links reasonably occupy the top spot. Putting the most frequently used and sought information in one place, and having it display by default, makes for better usability.
The order of the links in the in the “Most Popular Resources” seemed as though they could benefit from a bit of reordering. Under the assumption that “information about the library”, such as hours and contact information, would be frequently sought, that section of links was moved up. Similarly, the account access information for users was bumped up to right beneath that. Article resources and course reserves, since they can be accessed more immediately from the horizontal tabs, were moved down a bit. However, It seemed preferable to keep them, as opposed to getting rid of them altogether, since users might not be able to find the information in its other location.
[Rearranging the links in the “Most Popular Resources Tab]
We felt that, along those lines, the second-most sought information should follow “Most Popular Resources”. and since most of the users in our studies tended to look to “About the Library” for much of their tasks, the tab seemed to be a good candidate to occupy the next spot.
As we noted in our last round of iterations, the “Browse by Subject” tab seemed to be the one which bore the most needlessly redundant information. The information it contained which was unique could easily be incorporated into another tab and eliminated. The content was well-represented under the “Resources for…” tab. The Subject Guides are also under “Help & Tutorials.” The only thing that seemed to be losing a spot is the “Libraries By College/Major” – a very helpful resource – that could make sense within the “Find a Library,” one of the “Popular Resources”.
Many of the links in the subsequent tabs seem like they would be easier to scan, or read quickly, if they were shortened and placed in a more logical order. For example, in the “About the Library” tab, many of the sections seem to lend themselves to shortening, without losing any of their effectiveness: “Technology at the Library” to “Technology”, “History of the University Library” to “History”, “Give us your comments, suggestions, and feedback” to just “Feedback”, “All Library Policies” to “Policies”, and so on. “Patron Policies” seemed like it could reasonably be removed, since it itself is a subset of “Policies” and can be found on that page. Finally, “Library Administration”, since it is a list of administrator’s contact information, seemed like it belonged better under the heading of “Find a Person”.
[Rearranged links in the “About the Library” tab]
Final Note: Navigation Consistency
The last recommendation relating to the vertical tab layout is difficult to represent visually: essentially, when a user follows any of the links found in the vertical tabs and then decides to navigate back to the main page, the tab layout will revert to its default setting, i.e. “Most Popular Resources.” It would make it much easier for a user to orient themselves if, for example, when they followed a link from the “About the Library” tab and then returned to the main page, the “About the Library” tab was still selected. This would also likely improve the efficiency with which users could find information, since frequently users will follow a link, not find the information they’re looking for, and wish to navigate back and choose another link which is immediately adjacent to the first one they selected.