Wayfinding is a subject that planners and signage designers love, but nobody else understands. The word isn’t even in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Lauren Stara Author Archive
Lauren Stara is an architect and a librarian, specializing in library building design. She currently holds the position of Library Building Specialist for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Her past library experience includes everything from front desk clerk to director in public libraries, as well as adjunct instructor for library education.
The five previous posts in this series have all been mostly concerned with physical spaces. Now let’s take a quick look at basic service design.
We’ve been throwing the term “user experience” around, but we haven’t taken a look at exactly who the ‘U’ in UX is.
People often become overwhelmed when thinking about changing their library to incorporate User Experience principles. Don’t panic, though – you can start small.
Design Thinking and Human Centered Design are two different terms for the same basic concept. The idea is to use techniques to help shift the human brain out of familiar ways of thinking and generate creative solutions.
The first step in improving your space is understanding what you already have. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and enlisting the help of someone who isn’t a regular library user for a “secret shopper”-style visit will provide some great information. A secret shopper is someone who comes into the library posing as a patron with the aim of evaluating the service—either something very specific or the library experience in general. They make extensive notes after the visit and report back to the management (or whoever commissioned the visit). This is a technique used extensively in business—retail and restaurants in particular.
UX, or user experience, is a hot topic in the library world, but what does it mean in practical terms? This series of articles will aim to demystify the concepts of user experience, design thinking, and human-centered design for public librarians. A common misperception is that you need a lot of time and money to embark on a program of integrating these ideas into your library—far from it. The key is to shift your thinking and consider every aspect of service from the user’s point of view. Everything from your voicemail message to your policy manual plays a part.