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Redesigning a School Resource

SVA | UX Consultant | Aug - Dec 2020

How do students interact with library resources through the SVA Library site? 

Skills:  UX Research, Project Management, UX Design, Design Strategy


Project Brief

In order to better integrate with the rest of the SVA site and its updated style guide, the SVA Library migrated to a new platform. Upon this migration, it was imperative that the SVA Library understand how the usability compared to the old site. 

The Problem

SVA was concerned that students were having a difficult time navigating to the new SVA Library site and that once there they would miss the features and design of the old library site.

The Goal

Improve navigation and enhance features in order to make users of the new library site happy with the updated functionality.


Design a study that could be completed remotely via the video conferencing platform Zoom, recruit students, faculty, and staff associated with SVA, implement, test, and finalize results, and condense findings into a comprehensive research brief and presentation.


Zoom, Adobe XD, Sketch


Serve as user experience researcher alongside team of three other UX Designers. 

  • Correspond with students, faculty, and staff at SVA in order to schedule remote interviews

  • Condense findings in order to construct the "Recommendations" section of the final report

  • Design high fidelity prototypes to help aid in the visualization of recommendations

  • Create a presentation to explain results

The Process

In order to get the most effective feedback, the following process was implemented. Users spanned from the SVA faculty, staff, and student body in order to understand all use cases and final designs reflected these findings.


Identify user needs and motivations to define effective solutions.


Propose solutions and test with users to refine designs


Create a style guide to create visual aesthetic and impact


Test to ensure the discovery and design process is effective

Discovery Phase


In order to organize our study, the team formulated an action plan to guide our process. Through this, our goal was achieved by completing the following steps.


Recruit Participants



User Testing








Research Focus

From meetings with our client, four more areas of focus were identified:

  1. Finding the Library's site from within the main SVA site 

  2. Identifying general information such as the Library's hours of operation, address and phone number

  3. Searching the Library's catalog

  4. Accessing Library services like reserving a room or scheduling a library instruction class


These four primary areas of focus were later reconfigured to become tasks completed by participants during our study.


In order to understand usability amongst all three user groups, eight participants were recruited from the SVA student body, faculty, and staff through their associations with the client.

Participants had varying levels of time spent at SVA and experience with the library site. For instance, the longest a participant had been at SVA was 10 years and the shortest was only one.


Anthony Carpenter
“I want to make sure that I'm using the Library site effectively so I can provide my students with the resources they need to be successful.”

My Story:
I've been teaching at the School of Visual Arts for the last five years and during that time I've seen a lot of changes to the Library site. I know my fellow faculty want to ensure that we are providing students with the tools they need, but with all the changes it can be hard to stay on top of things.

My Goals:
Provide students with the information they need to complete research
Make my reading list available on the Library site



Dana Jones
“As a new student, I want my time at SVA to be successful. I want to do well in my classes, learn more about my passions, and connect with my professors and peers.”

My Story:
It's my first semester at SVA and with COVID, I feel separated from all the things I would normally expect from campus. My professors advise that I use the library site, but sometimes it can be difficult to get what I need from it.

My Goals:
Check out books that I find interesting through the Library site
 Use the academic journals to gather research for class projects



Condensing Data

The following Excel spreadsheet was used in addition to traditional notes in order to condense findings and compare the experience of multiple participants. For the sake of display, the spreadsheet has been anonymized in order to protect the identity of our participants.


Following Design Guidelines

Adhering to a Style Guide

One of the primary reasons why SVA migrated to a new site was to adhere to a new style guide developed by the School of Visual Arts. In testing the functionality of the website, some comments pertained to this new  visual aesthetic.













Nimbus Sans Bold


Open Sans Bold


Open Sans

Findings & Recommendations

From our research, the following insights were concluded and recommendations on how to solve these issues are in line with suggestions from real-world users.

Finding 1:

The SVA sitemap did not make finding the Library's site intuitive for users.

"It wasn't intuitive. If I wasn't in a research study I would have given up." -P7

Recommendation 1:

Move the Library site's link to be housed under the secondary navigation link titled "Academic Life"


"It made sense that it would be under Academic Life since it's part of my academic life here at SVA." - P8

Finding 2:

Most users were unclear on what they were supposed to do on the new site and remarked that it felt more like an about page than a place where they could achieve Library functions. 

"This page reads more like an "Info" or "About Us" page so I might not immediately know that I can search the catalog through this page." - P6

Recommendation 2:

  • Reduce the amount of promotional content found throughout the page by containing it in an "About Us" section

  • Include visual iconography to help users identify key aspects of the site faster while minimizing scrolling 

  • Ensure that site labels match users' end goals to help them achieve desired interaction


For a full list of all Findings & Recommendations, explore the following:


A challenge our team faced throughout the study was managing users' affinity toward the old site with their evaluation of the new one. To mitigate this problem, users were asked to identify the areas they missed and whether their incorporation would better improve the usability of the new site. Once this question was posed, we found that most individuals could see how key elements were incorporated just with stylistic differences.  


Primary conclusions from this usability test suggest that usability would be improved if SVA achieved the  following:

  • Ensuring that users could access the Library site more efficiently by moving it to the secondary level of navigation under the link "Academic Life"

  • Reducing the amount of promotional content and corralling it under a designated section

  • Increasing the amount of visual iconography to help orient users 

  • Adjusting labels so they match user's end goals

It is the belief of the research team and myself that once these recommendations are implemented, users will have a better experience using the updated Library site.