Case Study
Upper Sandusky Community Library Information Architecture Redesign

The Challenge

The Upper Sandusky Community Library website’s Information Architecture is sporadic and unorganized. Conduct research to understand how library patrons use the website and create a new information architecture to be used in a website redesign.

Assessing the Information Architecture
Content, Labeling, and Taxonomy
   Content Inventory
   Classification Scheme
   Sitemap v1
Sitemap v2
What I Learned

Assessing the Information Architecture

Currently, the website does not properly guide the user towards his/her goals. There are four navigation structures each with different issues.

1. The top navigation represents a set of information/quick links in
a topical organization scheme.

2. The most prominent navigation visually is the “Our Library” links on the left side of the website. The link structure for deeper pages is contextual. Jump-to links are used to send users to specific sections of page, which leaves them confused and lost. Third level links leave the user stranded. (see Heritage Room for example). The user is unable to move back up a level in the navigation.

3. A third navigation at the bottom of the left side represents what
a user might typically find in the footer of a website. This website does not have a proper footer. The relation of these links to each other is ambiguous.

4. The fourth navigation is a set of external links labeled “Resources.” These links do not properly provide context for what each section means.

5. Content is displayed in an iframe in the center of the website.


Three stakeholder interviews were conducted along with a literature search for resources to help learn about users of library websites. Stakeholders included three employees of the Buffalo Public Library. An IT Administrator, Web Page Master, and Assistant Deputy Director of Development & Communications were each interviewed in a one-on-one sit down setting.


Most Common Patron Tasks
  • Finding information about events and services
  • Downloading/accessing ebooks and music
  • Finding library locations and hours
  • Using a library catalog/database
  • Creating and managing an online library account
  • Booking a trainer/librarian
  • Reserving books
Most Commonly Asked Questions
  • Is it free to use the library?
  • How to print
  • How to access e-books
  • How to use electronic devices
  • How to find websites
  • How to find books


Content, Labeling, and Taxonomy


Personas were created based on the research findings in order to guide the content inventory and creation of a sitemap. I matched personas with the most common user tasks and assigned priority to design the IA based on highest to lowest priority.

Content Inventory

A content inventory was conducted to understand what content can be repurposed, reworked, and what needs to be created based on the research findings.

Missing Content:

1. A contact us page that includes an inquiry form and contact information (email, phone #, etc.). Research showed that patrons contact the library through the website
and not just on the phone.

2. My account / Log in / Create Account page and links on home page. This will support the task of renewing and managing one’s library account online.

3. Library Catalog Search box with a “Reserve A Book” field to indicate how this task is completed. Also include filter to search for electronic content.

4. A page dedicated to borrowing and FAQ. Commonly asked questions by patrons will be supported here and made more easily accessible than how it is presented currently.

5. A “Book A Room” page will support the need for student study and homework time.

6. A “1-on-1 Training” page to be able to schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with a technology trainer or a librarian.

7. A page for die-cutting separate from the Ellison Room page. The Ellison room page will include a link to the die-cut page.

Classification Scheme

I choose to use a combination of multiple schemes or organize the website’s content:


The home page content is organized by task so that the most important tasks are easy to find and quickly accessible.


A “Kids & Parents” section will help children find what they need but also help parents
find books, games, etc. for their children.


Content organized by subject because it doesn’t fit an exact scheme. Content includes “Library Services”, “About Our Library”, etc.


Events and News are organized by date and time, as well as any archive content.


Large amounts of content such as the artifacts of the Heritage room should be organized alphabetically to make searching more efficient.


I created a sitemap based on highest priority user tasks.

Version 1



A Treejack test involving 8 scenarios and 19 participants was conducted to assess the 1st version of the library website’s taxonomy.


Out of all the tasks, 78% ended up at a “correct” answer while 57% were chosen without backtracking.

Overall, participants correctly found where information was located, however, over half of the time they needed to go back and forth through labels in order to find the correct answer or be confident in their selection. There also were instances of ambiguity among specific labels.

Changes to the Design

1. Participants aren’t sure what qualifies as a “Library Service” or a “Resource”. Consolidate the two as a label “Library Services & Resources” so that the user is lead down a correct path without having to go back.

2. Change the location of information on how to get a library card. After analzying the results, it makes more sense for there to be a call-out link on the home-page that directs users to a page where they can sign up for an online account and register for a library card.

3. Change the label “Cypress Resume” to “Resume Help” in order to improve findability and clarity of the content.

4. Change the label “After School Hour” to “After School Programs” to provide more clarity and less confusion with the “Story Time” label.

5. Change the label “Library Staff & Board” to “Library Staff & Board Directory” so that the label is more specific and less ambiguous.

Sitemap v2

Using the findings from testing I modified the original sitemap to reflect the changes that I recommended.


Using the final sitemap I was able to create wireframes to showcase the new navigation and information architecture.

What I Learned

Test, Test, Test

Testing information architecture is crucial to the success of your design’s usability. Having gone through the testing process I realized just how important it is. While some of the changes to the labels and taxonomy between sitemap v1 and sitemap v2 seem small on the surface, the impact they have on leading users down the correct path from the start are crucial to wayfinding success.