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Evaluating the usability of the information architecture of academic library websites

Isabel Mariann Silvis (University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Theo J.D. Bothma (University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Koos J.W. de Beer (University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 29 November 2018

Issue publication date: 13 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an integrated list of heuristics and an information architecture (IA) framework for the heuristic evaluation of the IA of academic library websites as well as an evaluation framework with practical steps on how to conduct the evaluation.

Design/methodology/approach

A set of 14 heuristics resulted from an integration of existing usability principles from authorities in the field of usability. A review of IA literature resulted in a framework for dividing academic library websites into six dialogue elements. The resulting heuristics were made applicable to academic library websites through the addition of recommendations based on a review of 20 related studies.

Findings

This study provides heuristics, a framework and workflow guidelines that can be used by the various evaluators of academic library websites, i.e. library staff, web developers and usability experts, to provide recommendations for improving its usability.

Research limitations/implications

The focus of the usability principles is the evaluation of the IA aspects of websites and therefore does not provide insights into accessibility or visual design aspects.

Originality/value

The main problem that is addressed by this study is that there are no clear guidelines on how to apply existing usability principles for the evaluation of the IA of academic library websites.

Keywords

Citation

Silvis, I.M., Bothma, T.J.D. and de Beer, K.J.W. (2019), "Evaluating the usability of the information architecture of academic library websites", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 566-590. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-07-2017-0151

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited