Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"User experience research for the discovery tool of Purdue University Libraries"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Spring 2016 - DURI
Research area(s):
Interface design, usability, human-computer interaction, library science
Project Description:
The discovery tool on Purdue University Libraries website ( is an important tool for users to search across multiple library resources (books, articles, journals, databases, etc.) and view results in a consistent presentation. The libraries have been iteratively testing and improving the user interface of the discovery tool. A major update of the interface is planned in 2016. The goal of this project is to conduct user research and usability tests to understand how users are interacting with the discovery tool and how the user interface can be further improved. The project will involve user interviews and observations of how users search for materials in the discovery tool on the libraries website. The research will collect a set of key user attributes during the process, including user goals and tasks. With the understanding of user research results, the usability tests will ask users to perform testing tasks and provide feedback of their experience of the interface. Both user research and usability testing will help validate new design features, interface customization options, and workflow designs. The project research process will be actively communicated with developers, system administrators, librarians, and other stakeholders. The end results of this project will be a set of research findings and design guidelines for implementing the new user interface of the discovery tool at Purdue University Libraries.
Expected Student Contributions:
The student will be involved or contribute to the following activities: 1. Training on social behavioral research (CITI/IRB Training). 2. Working with stakeholders to develop research plan, recruit participants, schedule study sessions, work with participants in study sessions, and collect research data during sessions. 3. Analyze qualitative and quantitative data. 4. Identify potential usability issues from data analysis and develop design suggestions for addressing usability issues. 5. Communicating research findings and develop guidelines or best practices for stakeholders.
Related Website(s): (the search box)
Desired Qualifications:
Students who are interested in human-computer interaction, web interface design, user experience, and usability test are encouraged to apply. Background in human factors, psychology, interaction design, social and behavioral science research is a plus. Ability to do statistical analysis is a plus.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Zhang, Tao

Student Supervisor

Tao Zhang
Assistant Professor

Cooperating Faculty

Cheryl Zhenyu Qian
Department of Art and Design