Jackson District Library Website

Abstract: Analyzing information flow between employees and library patrons

Category: Information Architecture, User Research, Contextual Inquiry

Problem: How can the Jackson District Library better use the website to serve employees and patrons.

Project: I was part of a team of five students that analyzed the flow of information on the Jackson District Library (JDL) website. Using contextual inquiry methods we explored how content was created, posted, removed, and utilized on the website by JDL employees and patrons. Our analysis took into account the organizational workflow for creating marketing material, the use of external resources like databases, and the internal communication amongst JDL employees. We concluded our project by with a report offering empirically based recommendations to improve the information flow onto and off the website.

Role: I was the project manager and lead user researcher. As the project manager I oversaw the planning, execution, and delivery of the client materials. As the lead user researcher I utilized contextual inquiry methods (user interviews, ethnographic research, and affinity diagramming) to understand how employees and library patrons were using the JDL website.

Solution: Our final deliverable to the client was an in depth report (see here) with both short term and long term recommendations. Our primary recommendations were the implementation of a intranet where employees can find internal documents, use the website to foster a connection between branches, and appoint a single department to manage web content.


User Interviews

We conducted interviews with everyone who used the website, from the website administrator, to librarians, to individual patrons. Our aim was to better understand the needs of the various users and how the website might fulfill those needs.

Ethnographic Research

Info Flow

To better understand all of the moving pieces in uploading content to the JDL website we diagrammed the different contributors and the methods they used for upload content.

Affinity Diagramming

We organized the data collected from our interviews in an affinity wall to better understand the connections between the individual data points.


Our major findings covered the areas of community interaction, communication structure, website content, website usability, and the digital community. Overall we found the library has strengths in the area of community building, but could improve internal communication and benefit from redesigning the website to make it more intuitive to the primary users by considering local demographics.