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LibGuides & AZ Database List UX Study

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In December 2017, the UX Team wanted to understand how students experienced the library’s LibGuides & the A-Z Database List.

Research Questions

  • How do students discover and use LibGuides & the A-Z Database List?
  • How do students respond to the layout, organization, tone, and content of the LibGuides & the A-Z Database List?


  • We conducted usability tests with 11 students.
  • We conducted a literature review of recently published articles on user testing of LibGuides.
  • We used Hotjar, a website analytics software, to track how users navigate the Cite Your Sources: APA topic guide, one of our more popular guides.

What did we Learn?

  • Few participants had ever used a LibGuide before.
  • Most participants used Primo to start their research.
  • Students found Guides difficult to locate on our website, navigate within, and read.
  • Students could not describe the difference between Course, Topic, and Subject guides.
  • Students seemed to prefer the two column layout. It was less overwhelming.
  • Students were disoriented when they landed on a guide. What is its purpose? Why should it be trusted? How should it be used? What do the headings (ie. Top Picks: Background Information) mean?

Our Recommendations

  • Explore how LibGuides can be more visible on the library website
  • Explore how LibGuides can appear more integrated with the library website (i.e. library website framing the guides)
  • Explore integration of course reserves into course guides just as the integration of course guides into course reserves is already underway
  • Prioritize the most relevant resources on course guides and put them at the top. More generic sources (such as Oxford Reference, etc.) are a lower priority
  • Ensure that all links to guides on the library website use consistent language
  • Further reflect on how to position the guides for students when Primo seems to be students’ starting (and ending) point in research
  • Consider creating a video explaining the use, purpose, and breadth of guides

Year of Study


The library is committed to ensuring that members of our user community with disabilities have equal access to our services and resources and that their dignity and independence is always respected. If you encounter a barrier and/or need an alternate format, please fill out our Library Print and Multimedia Alternate-Format Request Form. Contact us if you’d like to provide feedback: lib.a11y@uoguelph.ca