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New Search Box on Library Homepage
Screenshot of Harvard Library homepage with new search box

A new simplified search box will be coming to the Harvard Library website on June 9. The current search widget, implemented nearly four years ago, allows users to select from nine resource types and links to over 50 e-resources. The new search tool will consist of a single HOLLIS+ Everything search box, along with a link to HOLLIS+ Advanced Search. Other major e-resources will continue to be available on the Search & Find page, and all of Harvard’s e-resources can still be found by searching in HOLLIS+ or on the Databases page.

This change has been informed by resource usage analytics, usability testing, and ongoing feedback from users and staff. Analytics for the Harvard Library homepage collected over the last academic year show that the default HOLLIS+ Everything search was used ten times more often than the next most frequently used resource.

Usability testing also supports simplifying the homepage’s search options. During the spring, a group of 33 users—a mix of faculty, students and staff—participated in a task-based usability test of the homepage. An additional 26 users completed a short design activity which asked them to circle what they found most useful and to cross out what wasn’t useful to them on the homepage. Among the findings:

  • Most users liked the prominent default HOLLIS+ Everything search box.
  • Most used the default search box when asked to find an article, book, or database.
  • Many described the homepage as “cluttered,” “too busy,” or “overwhelming.”
  • As one faculty member said, “There’s too much choice.”

Access to categorized lists of other major e-resources will continue to be available from the Search & Find page. Staff who would like to highlight a specific set of e-resources by resource type (images, news, data, etc.) may now link directly to a filtered list on that page. More information is available on the Portal Wiki

The June 9 release will also include a change to the structure of the site’s main navigation. An additional study informed the decision to reposition Get It Services links; in informal outreach sessions, 121 people were asked under which of the Harvard Library site’s five main navigation submenus they would expect to find services like Interlibrary Loan and Borrow Direct. A clear majority (62%) chose Search & Find, so the Get It Services links will be moved to that submenu.

Article written by the Harvard Library Portal Working Group.

Article published on June 1, 2016.