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Student Reviews of LibGuides & SubjectsPlus

April 23, 2008, 9:37 am

We are in the pre-planning process of transitioning over to a new subject guide system. Two of the products that we are seriously considering are LibGuides and SubjectsPlus. (A big thanks to the taskforce for all their work.)

I asked a few students to provide some quick feedback looking at another school’s guide for their discipline—here’s what I got back.

LibGuides

Student #1
hard to scan text, too wordy, not enough differentiation between title
and description of databases. not enough focus on the main content -
it is battling for the reader’s attention with 2 sidebars. the site
design is repulsive, rounded corners make it look like they’re trying
to go web 2.0 but failing miserably and it doesn’t work well with the
homepage which is more grid/linear oriented than rounded corners
and modules.

Student #2
- there’s too much red
- it’s hard to read
- the search bar was hard to find
- the "meebo" feature looks pretty cool… is there a way to guarantee
that my questions would be answered? is there a program where i would
get the answer if i went offline?
- there should be an outline or description about the tabs because the
name of the tabs were really unclear…

Student #3
Libguides doesn’t seem very helpful at all.  I just look for a list of the
journals/databases that GT has access to & I check those out.   

SubjectsPlus

Student #1
good, accessible navigation. headings in blue blocks clearly separate
different portions of the site that serve different tasks. interesting
use of icons to depict extra metadata about the databases visually.
descriptions have good line-height and are not too verbose to be
unhelpful. wouldn’t hurt to wrap text in the main content area
earlier.. 15+ words per line is on the edge of being annoying to read.
main content is a bit too long, perhaps use domtab to load different
areas of text via JS. sidebar is helpful and spaced out well, albeit
the lower elements are too wordy for the area.

Student #2
- i like the "try these first" box that pops up
- the red/green padlocks that appear to show what i can/cannot use is
really helpful
- the Research by Subject: Business–Industry Information section at the
top should stand out more. it doesn’t really look important when actually
it saves a lot of time scrolling…
- the main horizontal bar is amazing! drop down lists that bring you to
specific pages is a great feature
- the option to hide or show the key is GREAT!
- a picture of the librarian is also helpful

Student #3
really dislike the popup that you would have to X out of every time.
It’s useful to have the most common journals on top, but the popup makes
me feel like I’m being assaulted by advertisements. But I like how the layout
takes up the entire browser window. I don’t really understand the ‘lock’ symbols
next to the journal titles. 

Personally I prefer LibGuides—it feels more modern and the features offer a lot of possibilities… but that’s librarian thinking. Students, at least these three, seemed to prefer the simpler of the two. I hope to get a few more responses back—if so I’ll post them here, but we’re on the verge of finals and they have better things to do than review subject guides.

Summary: It’s easy to get caught up with the flashy new toy, but I guess we just need to keep asking ourselves— who are these guides for: us or them?

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