Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 12:55:33 -0400
From: kathleen donovan
Subject: ALEPH Update 8/12/04:OPAC search screen revision
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Reply-To: kathleen donovan

This update covers issues of interest to public services staff and other OPAC users.

This spring, the Aleph Steering Committee authorized the OPAC Advisory Team to proceed with modest changes to the OPAC to be implemented this summer. Drawing on our two years experience with the current design, and taking into account changes in browsers, user expectations, and user searching behavior, the OPAC Team prioritized the following two areas of work:

1. Search screen revision Our primary goals were to provide a cleaner, more comprehensible main menu, and better links to content on the Harvard Libraries site (portal e-resources, library information, etc.)

To address these goals, the team changed the organization of links on the persistent menu, and added a new "footer" with links to the Harvard Libraries site. Other revisions include changing the name of the "E-resources" logical base to "Digital Resources," highlighting the "Your Account" link in yellow, adding an "About the HOLLIS Catalog" link, and providing an additional line of text on the default Search screen to increase the visibility of the Expanded Search screen.

2. Reducing OPAC popups New browser and Google toolbar popup blocking features "break" certain OPAC functions currently delivered via javascript redirects in popups. While we have not been able to eliminate all use of popups, our goal was to eliminate as many as possible.

Earlier this spring, a change was implemented to prevent problems when linking out to an e-resource. Soon, a number of system messages previously delivered in popups will appear as highlighted on-screen text located just below the persistent menu. Examples of these system messages include responses to searcher errors ("You must enter a search term") or responses to searcher actions ("Selected items were added to list"). We expect that more users will see these messages, and most will probably find them less annoying!

Usability testing The revised search screens were tested over the last few weeks. In keeping with the current usability literature, we tested a small but representative sample of our primary users. The test was designed to measure whether changes to the persistent menu enhanced or impaired users ability to complete routine tasks. The results confirmed that all users were able to complete the assigned tasks without difficulty using the revised screens.

Timeframe The revised screens and popup reduction will be implemented a few days after the transition to Aleph v 16.02, which is currently scheduled for August 21-22.

Preview of OPAC changes- Staff may preview these changes by going to: Please note that these screens connect to a small test file containing a subset of the HOLLIS Catalog.

As always, the OPAC Advisory Team welcomes your comments or suggestions, which may be sent to the group via the HOLLIS Catalog "Comments" link in the main menu of the Catalog.

OPAC Advisory Team
Paul Aloisio, OIS
Kathleen Donovan (Chair), Gutman
Betsy Eggleston, HCL Technical Services
Carrie Kent, Widener
Jeff Kosokoff, Lamont
Carrie Macfarlane, HCL Instructional Services
David Osterbur, Bio Labs