Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Editorial and Technological Workflow Tools to Promote Website Quality

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Editorial and Technological Workflow Tools to Promote Website Quality

Article excerpt

Library websites are an increasingly visible representation of the library as an institution, which makes website quality an important way to communicate competence and trustworthiness to users. A website editorial workflow is one way to enforce a process and ensure quality. In a workflow, users receive roles, like author or editor, and content travels through various stages in which grammar, spelling, tone, and format are checked. One library used a workflow system to involve librarians in the creation of content. This system, implemented in Drupal, an open-source content management system, solved problems of coordination, quality, and comprehensiveness that existed on the library's earlier, static website.

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Today, libraries can treat their websites as a significant point of user contact and as a way of compensating for decreases in traditional measures of library use, like gate counts and circulation. (1) Websites offer more than just a gateway to journals; librarians also can consider instructional or explanatory webpages as a type of public service interaction.2 As users flock to the web to access electronic resources and services, a library's website becomes an increasingly prominent representation of the library.

At the New York University Health Sciences Libraries (NYUHSL), for example, statistics for the 2009-10 academic year showed 580,980 in-person visits for all five locations combined. By comparison, the website received 986,922 visits. In other words, the libraries received 70 percent more website visits than in-person visits.

Many libraries conduct usability testing to determine whether their websites meet the functional needs of their users. A concern related to usability is quality: users form an impression of the library partly based on how it presents itself via the website. As several studies outside the library arena have shown, users' experience of a website leads them to attribute characteristics of competence and trustworthiness to the sponsoring organization.

Tseng and Fogg, discussing non-web computer systems, present "surface credibility" as one of the types of credibility affecting users. They suggest that "small computer errors have disproportionately large effects on perceptions of credibility." (3) In another paper by Fogg et al., "amateurism" is one of seven factors in a study of website credibility. The authors recommend that "organizations that care about credibility should be ever vigilant--and perhaps obsessive--to avoid small glitches in their websites.... Even one typographical error or a single broken link is damaging." (4)

Everard and Galletta performed an experimental study with 232 university students to discover whether website flaws affected perception of site quality and trust. Their three types of flaws were incompleteness, language errors (such as spelling mistakes), and poor style in terms of "ambiance and aesthetics," including readable formatting of text. They discovered that subjects' perception of flaws influenced their judgment of a site being high-quality and trustworthy. Further, they found that the first perceived error had a greater negative impact than additional problems did, and they described website users as "quite critical, negative, and unforgiving." (5)

Briggs et al. did two studies of users' likelihood of accepting advice presented on a website. Of the three factors they considered--credibility, personalization, and predictability--credibility was the most influential in predicting whether users would accept or reject the advice. "It is clear," they report, "that the look and feel of a web site is paramount in first attracting the attention of a user and signaling the trustworthiness of the site. The site should be ... free of errors and clutter." (6)

Though none of these studies focuses on libraries or academic websites and though they use various metrics of trustworthiness, together they point to the importance of quality. …

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