The Shifted Librarian -

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* Thursday, May 12, 2005

THE Search Box

Polishing the Turd: the Dangers of Redesigning the OPAC

"I'll skip over the part about our website (we're able to fix that pretty easily) and write about what they recommended for the catalog. The first screen they gave us was a redesigned search form. An interesting dialogue came out of that:

Usability Expert: Ok, so this is the search form...
Librarian(s): So... is this the simple search form or the advanced search?
Usability Expert: This is the search form." [Dilettante's Ball, via Caveat Lector]

I just had to post that exchange, because it was so perfectly illustrative of the difference between libraries and the outside world.

The post is about a usability study the library had done on its OPAC by an outside usability expert. I've been dreaming about doing this, too, even going so far as to call the folks at 37 Signals to find out how much they would charge for something like this. I want them to create the perfect interfaces for a catalog, a subscription database, and federated searching. I'd like to get a gander at their AJAX and non-AJAX attempts at all of this and then implement what we can. Of course, I haven't really mentioned this to the SWAN folks yet.... ;-)

Unfortunately, when I called, the person I reached was out-of-town, and when he called me back, I was out-of-town. Things have been so busy at work that I haven't had time to pursue this any further, but this post, plus the Amazon-Google-search conversation on WEB4LIB this week (it starts here but takes on a life of its own and changes subject lines a couple of times), have piqued my interest again.

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