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1 Blues Bros. Design #onamissionfromg*d Design brief prepared by Kathleen Dowling, Julia Marden and Kate Merlie for Lis 643- Information Architecture and interaction design

2 Mission Statement Blues Bros. Design was founded on January 23, 2013 with the purpose of redesigning the Pratt SILS website. Project Introduction The Pratt SILS website ( is part of the larger Pratt Institute web presence. The Pratt SILS program is the oldest accredited library school in the nation and is a respected name among librarians and information professionals. Today s Pratt students receive training not only in traditional librarianship, but also web design, digital information management, information architecture, and usability. Pratt has a reputation within the LIS community for training skilled and innovative information professionals that thrive in any work environment. Upon graduation, students find employment at a variety of libraries, cultural institutions, and commercial businesses in New York City and around the country. Blues Bros. Design aims to restructure the Pratt SILS website to better reflect the program s strong sense of community, reputation of academic excellence, and commitment to effective information management. Website Users Like any academic program, the Pratt SILS website must serve a diverse user group. Faculty members should expect to see an accurate representation of their

3 accomplishments and roles in the school. Current students should be able to easily find information related to their chosen concentration, such as current course offerings and degree requirements, and general updates from the program. In addition, prospective students should find accurate, up-to-date information about the program and the application process. Lastly, alumni should find information related to professional development as well as incentives to donate their funds, time, and expertise to the school.

4 SITE MAP Below is a representation of the SILS section of the general Pratt Institute website, and thus, it does not include Pratt s global navigation in the header of the page. The right sidebar and the footer have a consistent structure on each page, but the elements in the footer, as well as the last two elements in the right sidebar, occasionally vary on certain pages. This diagram reflects the elements that appear most frequently when navigating the website.

5 COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS To get a better sense of how other LIS programs structure their websites, we compared the Pratt SILS website to those of the top three library and information science programs in the country, according to US News and World Report: University of Illinois Graduate School of Library & Information Science University of North Carolina s School of Information & Library Science Syracuse University s School of Information Studies The following tables compare each school across six attributes we thought were essential to a good program website. Navigation Organization Readability Content Appearance Pratt SILS No clear path to prospective student Information; no breadcrumb trail on pages or site map; many broken or confusing links Clear labels for students and alumni; no labels for faculty or prospective students; functional sidebar and footer, but both have too many options to be useful Dense text; frequent spelling/grammar errors; lack of white space; confusing links Homepage has too much information; can t be easily digested; critical info often below fold; content does not appear to be frequently updated Site uses consistent styles; site uses social media buttons; images are few, bland and not illustrative; site relies too Syracuse I School Clear paths to information for all relevant users; no clear path to degree requirements; no site map Clearly labeled paths for all relevant users; consistent features and sidebar in each section; consistent and simple header Good use of white space, bullets, spacing; text is concise & explanatory, and the language used is simple Homepage is clear, concise and updated; missing crucial department info, but still adequate; each page has clear, descriptive and updated content Site uses consistent styles that render on multiple browsers; images are attentiongetting, high-res, and

6 Search Functionality heavily on text Web search by keyword and student directory; does not provide faculty or course options; search lacks instant results enhancement illustrative; appearance conveys quality of program, but not facilities Web search by keyword, course, and faculty directory; instant results enhancement; no student directory search Syracuse offers their website users a consistent design throughout the site, so that users don t feel like they need to learn a new navigation on every page. They also offer a clear concise homepage as a starting point for casual viewers. Navigation Organization Readability Content Appearance Search Functionality Pratt SILS Lacks a clear path to information for prospective students Site is not laid out in a way that makes sense for four user groups Pages are filled with lengthy text, jargon and too many links Content is outdated, repetitive, and often inaccurate or incomplete. Site does not reflect information design or architecture principles taught in the program Searches entire Pratt site and doesn t always return accurate or relevant information; filter function looks like web ads UNC SILS Offers clear navigation labels and clear paths for each of four user groups Has clear structure that seems to match user needs; makes use of persistent links in header and footer; featured news section is a starting place for casual readers Some pages are lengthy, but important information is clumped in tables and bullet points. Content is frequently updated and appropriately highlighted. Makes good use of photos, text and layout to convey values of the program Search box offers distinction between SILS and UNC search; advanced search seems difficult to use

7 UNC SILS has several features worth considering: A featured news section on the homepage serves as a great way to promote the program and is relevant to casual website browsers from all four user groups. Clear navigation, persistent links and a self-evident organizational structure make it possible for users to find specific information relevant to their needs Photo galleries and embedded photos make content more intriguing to prospective students and alumni However, we will need to look elsewhere for a good model of site search functionality. Navigation Organization Readability Content Pratt SILS Contained in left sidebar; site levels represented by indenting and varying text size within menu Lacks clear paths to information for prospective students, current students, faculty; Fonts and large amount of text make pages difficult to read; lack of clear headings to separate sections of content; inadequate space between text and photos Text-heavy; some content repeated on multiple pages; spelling Illinois GSLIS Clearly labeled navigation menu at top of each page; dropdown menus with large number of subsections; links to student, faculty, etc. pages not in top-level navigation; left sidebar navigation on individual pages. Straightforward structure; clear path to/organization of information for prospective students; paths to information for students, faculty, alumni less clear because put in secondary navigation under People Adequate white space and padding between different areas of content; columns on homepage are vertically uneven, could use more space between them Provides information that is most important to key user groups (i.e. admissions

8 Appearance Search Functionality and grammatical errors; difficult to quickly find key information Limited use of color; use of fonts that are relatively difficult to read Adequate search results; option to filter results by category; no advanced search option requirements, academic requirements, course offerings); clearly labeled sections of text; some pages that are text-heavy Consistent color scheme; small number of pages with overabundance of text sizes and colors; good balance between text and photos on most pages Search bar clearly visible in black box on each page; search results with related tags; varied advanced search options While the Illinois GSLIS website has its own flaws and limitations, it effectively conveys its content through consistent design elements and straightforward navigation. The site makes good use of color without, in most cases, affecting content readability, and it supplements text with relevant, attractive photos. The navigation menu is consistently located at the top of the screen, and an additional menu for a particular subsection appears in the left sidebar, giving users a clear sense of where they are. The homepage is dynamic, providing recent news, photos, and information about upcoming events. Conclusions The Pratt SILS website, as evidenced by the above analysis, is plagued by issues of organization, clarity, and consistency. Although the site offers a wealth of information, the way in which it is structured inhibits users ability to find the information for which they are looking. The homepage is laden with excessive text, and the text throughout the website is cluttered and disorganized. This overabundance of text also detracts from the already limited number of photos on the site. In addition, the navigation menu is confusing and does not provide key groups of users, such as prospective students and current students, with clear paths to relevant content. Pratt fails to serve relevant and accurate content to their four key user groups: prospective students, current students, faculty and alumni. The SILS program has a huge body of information to deliver: degree concentrations and department

9 information, news about faculty, alumni and the student body, images of the facilities and program, and many other updates. However, the SILS site misses many opportunities to make content more readable, findable or appealing. Syracuse, UNC, and Illinois all offer valid solutions that address the website s major flaws. Noteworthy features include a news section on the homepage, persistent headers and footers throughout the site, and uniform organization throughout each subsection on the site. Each competitor site also uses photographs and design to strategically communicate the ideals of the program. Based on our findings, we have decided to focus on four priorities in restructuring the site: A frequently updated news section that will appeal to those affiliated with or considering the Pratt SILS program A clear consistent navigation to make it easier for information seekers to browse the site An improvement on users ability to find accurate and relevant information, either through search, organization or some combination of the two Better use of imagery and design to make the site more readable and the program more appealing We believe that by focusing on these four areas we can redesign the site in a way that best meets the needs of our key users and gives our program a competitive edge against the best library and information schools in the country.

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