Welcome to our wonderful new/updated interface!



So I’m getting an update on yet another online system that has made all these wonderful improvements to their interface.

Very nice. Lots of bells and whistles.

And I’m forgetting it diligently as I listen.

Several reasons for this, and they have nothing to do with the value of the interface.



  • If you don’t have a mouse-over text to explain all the neat icons (often creatively original and therefore non-standard). then it’s useless. Fortunately, this one does — if only they all followed that practice. Plus point for that.
  • Like pretty much all of the others, this assumes people spend a lot or even most of their time on this interface, or perhaps prefer to go directly there first. Users don’t, in our experience; they want answers, not databases, and therefore go where the search leads, which is through our catalog (and often our discovery service). No point.
  • Ever go into a store and find they moved everything around? Doesn’t that tick you off?  You used to be able to duck in and find everything in 10 minutes, and now it’s going to take 30 just to relocate everything, and additional time the next few visits until you learn the new arrangement — following which, somebody will decide to rearrange things again. And you become less likely to use that store again. Sure, the new arrangement may be better in some way, but often it just makes it harder to do things quickly — and speed is the main emphasis for a lot of users. That means familiarity, not novelty. Minus point.
  • To compound the problem, since in this case, it’s using records we’ve downloaded into our catalog, they are redirecting from the old links to totally new (different numbering system) ones on their server(s). However, since we alter the original links to go through our proxy service for off-campus users, this means that the redirected links do not go through our proxy service, so none of our off-campus users can use this now. So the value of this particular service has just become practically zero for most users. All positives negated; this is now a non-viable online service.

I’m not sure if I’m happy we’re not paying directly for this (it’s part of a state library service). If we were, I would be requesting a pro-rated refund about now. As it is, I’ve notified the appropriate person and hope this will be fixed eventually, but meanwhile, I’ve removed the records from the catalog.

Somewhere along the line, this vendor should have asked how their services were used in library systems. They just lost a lot of business. It’s correctable, but they are going to have to produce a new set of records with updated links that we can alter for our proxy system.

Nice shiny new interface, though…. but was it really worth it?


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