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The User Experience: Just Fix It

Virtual Conference


The user experience can be viewed through a variety of lenses. What makes sense to the developer may be baffling to the user. Navigation may or may not be intuitive. Buttons labels can be confusing. Processes seem tedious or cumbersome. How can we ensure that users find the functionality or content they expect? That some useful resource hasn’t inadvertently been hidden? Are there small tweaks that could make a world of difference? Are they easy to make or will they require a significant overhaul of the user interface? We’ll hear from a group of industry professionals, with experience of enhancing the user experience in various ways while keeping an eye on technical debt, costs, and time.

Confirmed speakers (among others) for this event include Lettie Conrad, Senior Associate, Product Research and Development, Maverick Publishing Specialists;; Sam Herbert, CEO and Co-founder, 67Bricks; Rachael Hu, User Experience Manager,  California Digital Library; Björn Johansson, Product Designer, Springer Nature; Chan Li, Assessment Librarian, UC Berkeley; Michele Potter, STEM Strategist, UC-Riverside; Jessica Smith, Manager, Discovery and Research, Jstor Labs; and Nathan Westgarth, VP of Product Management, Aries Systems.


Event Sessions

12:00 Noon - 12:15 Welcome


12:15pm - 12:45pm The experience of scholarly users: An introduction


Lettie Conrad

Senior Associate, Product Research and Development
Maverick Publishing Specialists

This opening talk will lay the foundation for the day's presentations on the work of librarians, publishers, and technology providers to optimize the experience of using digital products and services in scholarly communications. Ensuring usability for all types of users is a challenge facing all stakeholders in our industry. Lettie will begin by defining key UX terms and methods, before discussing some common scholarly user experiences across the online teaching and research ecosystem. She will conclude with thoughts on how we might work together to deliver engaging, high-value experiences with scholarly resources.

Recommended Reading:

12:45pm - 1:15pm Identifying the Gaps: University of California eBook Usability Assessment


Rachael Hu

User Experience Manager
California Digital Library

Chan Li

Assessment Librarian
University of California - Berkeley

Michelle Potter

Collection Strategist for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)
University of California - Riverside

The Ebook Usability Common Knowledge Group at the University of California is a multi-campus team charged with discovering and surfacing ebook usability issues as well as advocating for improvement. This group has created  an extensive (and ever-growing) set of usability criteria for ebooks that are licensed collectively or individually by UC campuses.  The initial assessment focused on three major publisher platforms, and an ongoing evaluation includes ebook aggregator platforms (such as ProQuest and EBSCO). These assessments  help inform purchasing decisions at individual campuses, as well as generate specific suggestions for providers. New projects include evaluating the Palace ebook  platform (previously SimplyE) and looking at features and usability of specific popular PDF readers.  This segment will cover  the group’s experiences developing their methodology, a general outline of their criteria, and the structure and key findings of their report.

eBook Usability Criteria and Case Study Report (California Digital Library)

1:15pm - 1:45pm A Case Study in User Needs for Text Analysis


At JSTOR Labs, we make prototypes and conduct experiments to try out new ways of discovering and using scholarship, especially in the digital humanities. In this talk, I’ll discuss the user needs elicitation, iterative usability testing, and collaborative design with users that we’ve undertaken to create Constellate, a text mining/analysis service from JSTOR. This project's UX was unusually complex in terms of the differences between the needs of DH-curious humanists who want to learn to analyze large corpora and the needs of experienced text miners, in the humanities and STEM fields.”

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm Comfort Break (45 minutes)

2:30pm - 3:00pm From somewhat awful to pretty great for librarians – a new e-commerce tool


We started building an e-commerce tool for librarians to license individual eBooks. The first version was partly good, partly awful.

So we learned more about, and mapped, the acquisition process in libraries. And we created a vision for how the system could fit into that library process. Then we chose a small piece to start with, designed and usability tested a solution with amazing librarians, and built it. We were one step closer to the vision – the system worked better for librarians.

So we learned more about the library process, updated the map, chose the next thing to fix, and got that developed. And then we repeated. And repeated. We keep on repeating. And the system is becoming pretty great.

The tools we use have evolved over time. Much inspiration has come from Teresa Torres who is a master at mapping, and from Jared Spool who is a UX vision wizard.

I hope you can take some of the tools we use and bring them into your org. Because all systems can become awesome to use. A little at a time.

3:00 - 3:30 Insights from Aries’ UI/UX redesign initiative


Aries VP of Product Management, Nathan Westgarth, will present an overview of Aries’ UI/UX redesign initiative for their workflow management solutions, Editorial Manager® and ProduXion Manager®. Nathan will provide insights into the strategic approach, methodology and success criteria, challenges, rationale for priority decisions, and examples of recently redesigned interfaces driven by user feedback.


3:30pm - 4:00pm Vision Interview with Todd Carpenter


Additional Information

NISO assumes organizations register as a group. The model assumes that an unlimited number of staff will be watching the live broadcast in a single location, but also includes access to an archived recording of the event for those who may have timing conflicts. 

NISO understands that, during the current pandemic, staff at a number of organizations may be practicing safe social distancing or working remotely. To accommodate those workers, we are allowing registrants to share the sign-on instructions with all colleagues so that they may join the broadcast directly. 

Registrants receive sign-on instructions via email on the Friday prior to the virtual event. If you have not received your instructions by the day before an event, please contact NISO headquarters for assistance via email ( 

Registrants for an event may cancel participation and receive a refund (less $35.00) if the notice of cancellation is received at NISO HQ ( one full week prior to the event date. If received less than 7 days before, no refund will be provided. 

Links to the archived recording of the broadcast are distributed to registrants 24-48 hours following the close of the live event. Access to that recording is intended for internal use of fellow staff at the registrant’s organization or institution. Speaker presentations are posted to the NISO event page.

Broadcast Platform

NISO uses the Zoom platform for purposes of broadcasting our live events. Zoom provides apps for a variety of computing devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) To view the broadcast, you will need a device that supports the Zoom app. Attendees may also choose to listen just to audio on their phones. Sign-on credentials include the necessary dial-in numbers, if that is your preference. Once notified of their availability, recordings may be downloaded from the Zoom platform to your machine for local viewing.