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User Experience Resources

This guide collects resources for User Experience testing and best practices.

UX Presentations

Matthew Reidsma's User Experience Keynote

In June of 2015, Matthew Reidsma offerd a keynote address on library user experience entitled Good For Whom? Check out the recording below if you weren't able to attend.

Amy Deschenes' and Matthew Reidsma's Workshop Slides

The day after his keynote, Matt and Amy offered two workshops. The morning workshop covered methods for analyzing user data and the afternoon session covered techniques for gather data on library spaces. The slides for each of these sessions are below.

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Best Practices

A Few Best Practices


  • Combine a variety of data collection techniques where possible.
  • Aim to collect with quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Test frequently and regularly; just because a site or service is running doesn't mean testing should stop.
  • Think carefully about where testing will take place. The location should be centrally located, but separated from other activity and quiet enough to allow recording and to ensure participants won't be distracted.
  • Test with a variety of types of patrons.


  • Worry about recruiting a huge number of people. Many suggest that as few as 5 participants is sufficient for a standard usability test (see, for example, this from the Nielsen Norman Group; this same source has specific numbers for other types of tests as well).
  • Leave testing for the end of a project. You should test early enough that feedback can be incorporated at all stages of the projects.
  • Assume that the opinions of staff or others with advanced training will be the same as the opinions of other patrons.
  • Feel intimidated. User experience testing can feel overwhelming, but there are a lot of simple ways to gather information from your users and incorporate it into your tools and services. Even if you can't manage a professional-level usability test, you can still improve your users' experience.

Additional Resources

These resources offer an introduction to user experience.

Tools & Resources

Free Tools

Here are some free tools that will help you to test your websites and services.

Tools At Harvard

Harvard also has a number of UX testing tools that are available for library staff to borrow to run tests at their libraries. Below is a partial list of these resources, but feel free to contact Amy Deschenes ( or check out the User Research Center's website for more details about what is available.

Additional Resources

Here are a variety of resources that will help you to keep up-to-date with best practices in library user experience.


UX Books at Harvard

Harvard has access to an abundance of resources on User Experience design and practice.  Most of the books are available online via Safari Books Online.

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