Interaction Design students tackle the Library

Fall Semester, 2014

During the summer of 2014, librarian Caitlin Kilgallen reached out to MFA Interaction Design chair Liz Danzico with nothing more than a vague notion that the library could use some help and Interaction Design could probably do something for us.  Liz connected us with Prof. Alex Wright‘s Research Methods course.  It is a half semester 7 week course.  The students learn usability testing, conduct field studies, create surveys and learn how to frame and solve problems.  The library became their client.  The class was divided into 4 groups with each group responsible for a library stakeholder: undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and librarians. Each group identified a cohort which was a guide and tool as they examined and evaluated the library’s physical and digital presence.  At the end of the semester the designers gave 4 presentations (one for each group), showcasing their findings and offering solutions.  The presentations were impressive and thoughtful.  It was a very rewarding experience with many areas for library improvement being identified.

Spring Semester, 2015

Building on their work in the Research Methods course, IxD students continued their work with the library in Prof. Jennifer Brook‘s UX Fundamentals class during the Spring semester. In this class, students tackle design problems with concept sketching, mapping, and wire-framing, primarily for screen-based experiences and occasionally for physical spaces. Librarians Caitlin Kilgallen and Phoebe Stein visited the MFA Interaction Design studios for research and facilitation meetings with the graduate students. The students were again split into four teams, each working on a different design problem within the library experience. Three of the four teams worked on website-specific improvements, building wire frames and user experiences for the library homepage plus specific tasks like placing holds, accessing their user accounts, and using the library’s federated database search tool. The fourth team focused on improving the entrance experience in the physical library space through the creation of an interactive kiosk.


Group B’s Do/Feel/Think/Say chart.

Over 2 sessions, the four teams elicited responses from librarians using a “Do, Feel, Think/Say” approach. For each user experience, like using the homepage, librarians were asked what we wanted our users to be able to Do on the homepage, what we wanted them to Feel after using it, and what we wanted them to Think or Say about the homepage. Each response was recorded on a sticky note, and librarians and students used colored stickers to vote on what they thought were the most important features to be incorporated into the new designs.


On February 19th, librarians Robert Lobe, Caitlin Kilgallen, Phoebe Stein, and David Pemberton visited MFA IxD again to view the students’ design presentations. Each group gave a 15-minute presentation of their research findings on the library experience, and demonstrated their redesigns with wire frames, task walk-throughs, and images.


Library homepage wire frame from Group A


Group D’s design solution for library user accounts

Group C's interactive kiosk map.

Group C’s interactive kiosk map.

The SVA Library is currently working with a developer to redesign the library website, and this collaboration with the Interaction Design department has greatly helped to steer the design focus of our new homepage and how users will interact with the library.

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