About Scholarly Research on User Experience

One of my new year’s resolutions was to take more time to read and learn about library information system topics and user experience. This is the one resolution I’ve managed to maintain for more than a couple of weeks. There is time each week I set aside for seeking out and reading about library-related topics.

I have found a surprising (to me) number of scholarly articles on the user experience of library websites. I should not be surprised. I should have been looking out for this information long ago. It just never occurred to me that these sorts of articles would be out there. I still think of the web and user experience as relatively new areas of practice, but that is not true. Human factors or HCI has been a field of study for decades. The web as we know it is now more than 25 years old. I should know. I've been a web designer and developer for nearly as long as the modern World Wide Web has been available.

Still, for the entirety of my career my references for self-directed learning have always been websites dedicated to web design (or graphic design) and front-end development. My learning has come through doing as well as looking at examples of what others are doing or have done. For someone who spent many years in school and several years pretending to be in research, it is (in retrospect) surprising that I didn’t look to academic resources for knowledge. But then, I have never been very good at finding these things for myself. It is usually just an accident.

My discoveries are still mostly accidental, but the latest really opened my eyes.

The great thing about scholarly publications are the references. Every article branches off in many directions, each path holding the potential for exciting discoveries. Sometimes I enjoy the references more than the article.

A new coworker has also turned me on to Zotero. The killer feature for me is the ability to quickly save the bibliographic information and full PDF of articles from many sources. With the tap of a button I can save an article for later, know where I can find it again, and identify the journal where it is found. Knowing the journal is great because I can then start exploring the journal issues for other interesting articles. Like an article’s references, checking out the related journal can also lead to interesting discoveries.

I am very excited to see what I discover this year.