Hi John,  

Thanks for your comments.  Our goals document for the project listed a number of items that were based on user and staff (one of our biggest user groups) comments and feedback over several years.  I don’t think it’d be going out on a limb to say these would be common concerns for most repositories.  Our high priority items included:

* Lack of access to digital content
* Poor relevancy ranking from search results.
* Difficulty interpreting search results
* More flexible and modular displays of finding aids
* Enhancement of web analytics to create meaningful use statistics.

I should clarify that we did not do extensive formal testing on the old interface.  This made sense for us given various staffing and resource issues and the project timeline, but also because we felt that there is a solid body of knowledge about the ways various user groups interact with archival finding aids.  Jennifer Schaffner’s “The Metadata is the Interface” does a good job of reviewing these.  We also had recently done our own literature review. As Jennifer writes about her own literature review, as it “got underway, it soon became evident that we already know most of what we need to know in order to get started making changes.”

So, instead of focusing our testing on the old interface, and its documented issues, we focused on testing prototypes of the new interface which helped us refine and improve the system as it was developing.  

Hope this helps,


On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 4:20 PM, Rees, John (NIH/NLM) [E] <[log in to unmask]> wrote:



Congratulations on getting this out the door. It would be great to learn more about what your ‘testing and evaluation’ told you about customer desires and how that was incorporated into your design (he said selfishly before embarking on his own redesign project). This is so much different than your previous site, so how were your users not satisfied in the past?





John P. Rees

Archivist and Digital Resources Manager

History of Medicine Division

National Library of Medicine