jonny grass
jonny grass
Evidence-based UX Design

ACC Library Search

American Career College is an allied health college with 5 campuses in Southern California.

As UX researcher and designer on this project, I identified usability issues in the flow for logging into and searching the library’s collections. Then I designed a better login and search flow.

This case study is about using original user research to design a better collection access and search journey.


Design Approach

My approach relied on a 3 stage process.

  1. Researching to find usability issues.

  2. Designing a flow that solved these issues.

  3. Designing 2 alternate flows to overcome project limitations.

User Research Methods

When I arrived at ACC, usage of the library’s online collections was very low.

By talking to stakeholders, I discovered users found the collections too difficult to use.

Research Question: What usability issues do users face when searching our collections collections?

Usability Issues

I identified 4 usability issues. All resulted from offering multiple collections without integrating their login and search functions.

2 search-related usability issues:

  1. Users had to choose a collection prior to search (see NNGroup research below).

  2. Users linked out to collections. To run multiple searches, users had to return to the library homepage and link out multiple times.

User Research Findings

I identified 4 usability issues. All resulted from offering multiple collections without integrating their login and search functions.

2 login-related usability issues:

  1. Logins were not personalized, requiring users to save them or re-find them when needed.

  2. Users had 4 sets of login credentials for our 4 content providers. Logging into one collection did not keep users logged in for another.

Integrated Journey

I designed a single journey for both logging into and searching all collections.

Key improvements:

  1. Single search bar searches all collections and provides one, unified results list.

  2. Login uses personalized ACC credentials and user remains logged in for session.

Integrated Journey (Alternate)

Problem 1: SMART Imagebase illustrations could not be integrated into results (technical constraint).

Solution: A call-to-action banner would be integrated into results for relevant searches, generating a new search in SMART Imagebase.

Problem 2: We could not implement a new login page (resource constraint).

Solution: An existing ACC login modal dialog was used instead.

Integrated Journey (Final)

Problem 1: SMART Imagebase banner could not be shown only for relevant searches.

Solution: A scoped search bar lets users search ebooks and articles in one tab and medical illustrations in another.

Next Step: At the next renewal period, we planned to replace SMART Imagebase with a similar collection that could be integrated into the results page (using our original design).