Discovery Phase – UH Libraries Website Redesign

In 2014-15, I managed the UX for UH Libraries’ ongoing public website redesign. The project’s vast scope touched all areas of the site and included Drupal 8 migration. I was charged with planning and implementing a UX program that integrated user-centered design principles into the department’s redesign process.

What I did

1) I created a roadmap that broke the overall project into smaller pieces to allow more manageable design and a potential phased release. I used Omniplan to track project dependencies and resource allocation. The UX plan I developed included a rich discovery phase supported by stakeholder, competitor, and user research.

2) Web Services conducted 14 stakeholder focus groups. I led the team in consolidating all notes and building an affinity diagram to pull insights from the data. I then designed and produced a report of our findings for library stakeholders.

3) I led the team in a review of peer and aspirational institution websites to understand key best practices and domain-wide design challenges. I developed review criteria with the department head and coordinated collaborative review and recommendation-generation sessions with the four-member team, illustrating our findings in a report to stakeholders.

4) UH Libraries has historically relied on surveys and focus groups for collecting user data. We wanted richer data and insights that reflected the library website users’ contexts. I developed and led the Libraries’ first formal contextual inquiry.

Rachel Vacek, the Head of Web Services, and I interviewed 11 users (undergrads, grad students, and faculty) at locations on campus where they often conduct research.

After each interview, we held interpretation sessions with our team and stakeholders, and followed these with a series of affinity diagramming sessions.

The front end developer and I consolidated sequence models.

Finally, we “walked” the diagrams, annotating them with design ideas.

I communicated our findings through a contextual inquiry report that included personas I had developed.

5) To help assess improvement post-redesign, I developed and conducted a usability benchmark with 20 users.


  • Conducted the first formal Holtzblatt & Beyer contextual inquiry at UH Libraries and one of the first in-house across all academic libraries
  • Streamlined the IRB process for usability testing, reducing average approval time from two months to two weeks
  • Facilitated true collaboration between the design team, developers, and stakeholders during discovery
  • Developed a shared understanding of issues, insights, and design ideas across Web Services (including developers)

View the full contextual inquiry reportcompetitive reviewand focus group report.