Category Archives: Redesign

Meet Kristin Sullivan- the new UX GRA

Hi all! I’m Kristin Sullivan, the new User Experience GRA with TIS. I recently wrapped up my first year in the Information Studies Master’s program at the UT iSchool. Prior to joining TIS, you could find me working as a teaching assistant (or Purple Shirt) in the iSchool’s IT Lab.

A bit about me: I majored in history and environmental sciences at the University of Vermont In Burlington. Following completion of my undergrad degree, I started to gradually move southward. I worked in a bookstore in NJ and then moved on to work with the Free Library of Philadelphia in their digital resources department. With the Free Library, I managed a computer hotspot that provided resource access and digital literacy training to community members. After almost a year of working with the Free Library, I decided to apply for graduate programs in information science and ended up enrolling in the UT iSchool.

I found my way into the world of UX through the iSchool. Initially interested in building upon my knowledge of web development, I enrolled in the more user experience focused courses offered through the program, such as information architecture and usability. I also used my time as a lab teaching assistant to increase my own technical skills in these areas and to teach others how to use design software programs through one-on-one instruction, tutorials and short courses. Currently, I’m trying to soak up all the UX knowledge that I can and apply user-oriented design to the projects that I work on.

I’m excited to join TIS this summer and work on UX for a library site. I am currently helping to wrap up work on the Geology branch site and implement the guidelines that the very talented, previous GRA, Stefanie Roberts established. Through this position, I am excited to get more hands-on design and user-testing experience. I also would like to build upon my previous teaching experience to create UX-oriented tutorials for TIS and contribute to the TISandboxes.

When I’m not around TIS, I will be working 10 hrs in the IT lab (at least for this summer), taking a summer class at the iSchool, and co-directing the student groups UT Association for Information Science & Technology and Advocating for Women in Technology. As for outside of the UT scope, I like to go on social bike rides and try to do the fun things in Austin.

Geology Redesign Update

We are making good progress migrating the Geology branch pages into Drupal with updated organization, content, and look & feel.

A former GRA, Rachel Lynch, did a spectacular and thorough job assessing and reorganizing the site’s content, separating out the parts that should be migrated into Geology Research Guides, and designing page-level wireframes based on actual content (which is so much better than dealing with actual content near the end).

Matthew Villalobos freshened the look & feel, which included some fun original photography for the banner images.

Ethan Persoff, our new webmaster, and Stefanie Roberts, our new GRA are now working in concert to theme it in Drupal and migrate the content.

One outstanding challenge is the Theses & Dissertations data which is currently separated out into several different chunks but should be combined into a single database with improved search and browse functionality. Stefanie and Ethan are tackling this in conjunction with Calla Smith-Dowling and Dennis Trombatore, the Geology staff.


Support Your Libraries Redesign Update

We’re iterating!

After spending time researching and documenting project requirements, benchmarking fundraising sites inside and outside of academia, and getting Staff Advisory Committee for Library Advancement (SACLA) suggestions on big impact stories to highlight, we created a set of wireframes.

The first design relied on a crowd sourced funding technology to replace our current Wish List of items ranging from $100 to $80,000. We’ve since learned that approach isn’t tenable at this time and we’re now working on a redesigned information architecture that doesn’t use crowd funding. The benefit is that it’s helped the project team reassess the number of different giving options we provide, and scale back in order to not overwhelm.

Things shifted, as they can, and we’re now working on a redesigned information architecture that doesn’t use ScaleFunder. The benefit is that it’s helped the project team reassess the number of different giving options we provide, and scale back in order to not overwhelm.

After the next version is done and approved, we’ll move into designing the look & feel and then building the site in Drupal 7.

Mining chat reference transcripts for UX issues

Attention Staff who provide reference: We want to know about the questions that highlight users’ difficulties with our site.

Whether it’s an issue with how information is organized, its lack of searchability, or it not being there at all…we want to know the ways our site can be improved to meet user needs.

We’ll plan to work with content owners to make improvements.

Feel free to provide this info whatever way is easiest for you, including simply forwarding chat transcripts.


Meet Stefanie, the new TIS GRA

Salutations! I’m Stefanie Roberts, a first-year UT iSchool master’s student and the new TIS User Experience GRA.

I majored in English at the University of Florida and dabbled in nonprofits, media, education, and healthcare before finding my way to UX. I didn’t even know the field existed until I stumbled upon it while researching library graduate programs. The common threads I found woven through my experiences in other fields—working with people, producing creative deliverables, and designing new systems to improve workflows and outcomes—are also at the heart of UX research and design. I feel fortunate to have wound up here working on UX for a library, the dream combination for many an MSIS student.

This semester, I’ll be collaborating with TIS staff and the Library Web Oversight Group on implementing best practices to redesign and create optimal experiences for UT Libraries website users. Since joining TIS in September, I’ve been generating IA and migrating content for the new Geology branch page. I already can’t remember life before Drupal. I’m especially looking forward to learning more about content strategy, responsive design, and accessibility.

When I’m not at the library, you can find me doing schoolwork, co-directing the Student Association for the School of Information and UT’s student chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology, biking and running (for fitness and/or to Juiceland), or exploring the cultural goings-on in and around Austin.


Currently, I am the new UX GRA at TIS, and I will be working with the Information Architect, Jade Diaz, on improving the user experience of various interfaces throughout the semester. I will be taking part in:

  • understanding project requirements
  • usability assessments and documentation
  • generating information architecture and prototypes for new designs
  • helping web authors maintain and update content in Drupal

How I got here:

I’ve always been fascinated with understanding how people process information and how this information helps them make decisions in their lives, so I got my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University. Unfortunately, I came to realize that getting a PhD in psychology was not for me, so I began looking into other areas that incorporated psychology, but did not require clinical training.

I didn’t ever feel a strong pull towards technology, but my dad is obsessed with the history of computing hardware, so there were always weirdly huge and old computers all over the house that I couldn’t be less interested in. However, I was fascinated with how different those old interfaces looked compared to my new iMac G3 (which obviously rocked the ‘Flower Power’ design). I couldn’t even imagine how someone could use a computer without windows or menus or icons.

When I decided to try to bridge these two interests, one of understanding how people learn and process information, and another of understanding how to improve interface designs to increase usability, I came across the field of HCI. I looked at a few different graduate programs, and decided to attend UT’s Master’s program in Information Studies. I am specializing in usability, information architecture, and UX research/design.

Other than school and work, I love spending time with my two wonderful cats, Gus and Sophie. I also got a guitar for Christmas, so I’m trying to teach myself a few things. I sort of like working out, and love spending time with friends and family.

Kicking off our redesign planning with a webinar

As part of our redesign research efforts, yesterday we watched a an ALA TechSource webinar: 10 Steps to a User-Friendly Website.

I found it to be full of useful, practical information as well as great confirmation that we’re talking about the right things and floating good ideas.

A few takeaways that stood out for me:

Reduce your site. 

  • Our site should be smaller, should not use the “just in case” model of information.  Most of it is noise.
  • The one-pager concept.  Our site can probably not become one page but it can be dramatically reduced.

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