Brief Outline:

DiscoverEd has been a live service since July 2015.  We know from anecdotal evidence that some academic staff and students choose to use other online sources of information in preference to DiscoverEd, but we do not know why.  We currently receive a low volume of feedback on DiscoverEd via an online form.  Much of this feedback is either very negative, focusing on specific issues and problems, or very positive but with very little detail.  Users often submit feedback anonymously, making it impossible to engage further with respondents about what they do and don’t like about DiscoverEd.  Furthermore, we currently have no method of engaging with non-users of the service.   This project will improve our understanding of why potential users choose not to use DiscoverEd.  The project will also establish what existing users think of the service in much more detail than we are currently able to ascertain, and will help to identify aspects of the service which are perceived to be difficult to use or are currently under-used.  The project will consist of:

  1. An online survey of users and non-users
  2. Focus groups with targeted groupings of users and non-users
  3. Usability testing of both the service as a whole and of specific aspects of the service

The output of the project will consist of a detailed report and recommendations for prioritised packages of development work which will:

  1. Improve users’ experience of DiscoverEd
  2. Encourage existing users to make more effective use of the service
  3. Increase the use of DiscoverEd by academic staff and students within the University

The project will employ a student intern to work part-time on the project over a six month period, supervised by the project leader, Gordon Andrew, Assistant Librarian, L&UC Information Systems.


Project Timeframe:

The project will run for six months and will be broken down into the following components:

1. Preliminaries (1 month)

a. Establishment of project steering group

b. Recruitment and training of student intern

c. Investigation of best practice for survey design, running focus groups and carrying out usability testing

d. Setting up schedule for survey, focus groups and usability testing

e. Analysis of DiscoverEd user feedback and usage statistics to identify problematic aspects of the service and/or under-used functionality


2. Survey (1 month)

a. Design of survey

b. Distribution of survey to existing users and non-users (via student survey service)

c. Analysis of survey data and writing interim report

d. Identifying focus group members


3. Focus Groups (1.5 months)

a. Establishing membership of focus groups.  Possible groupings might include:

i. Users defined by status (Academic Staff, Undergraduates, Taught PGs, Research PGs, ODL students, users with special requirements such as visual impairment)

ii. Non users

iii. Users of special collections

b. Establishing format of focus groups

c. Establishing content of sessions

d. Scheduling and running focus groups

e. Analysis of data collected

f. Interim report highlighting the number and content of usability testing exercises


4. Usability Testing (1.5 months)

a. Identification of participants, these might include:

i. Users defined by status (Academic Staff, Undergraduates, Taught PGs, Research PGs, ODL students, users with special requirements such as visual impairment)

ii. Non users

iii. Users of special collections

b. Scheduling the sessions

c. Analysing the data collected

d. Optional: final focus groups with those identified as non-users to ascertain whether their impression of DiscoverEd has changed and if they are now using the service


5. Report writing (1 month)

a. Collating the data collected in stages 2-4 above

b. Writing the project report

i. Findings

ii. Prioritised recommendations for development/improvement of specific aspects of the service

iii. Recommendations for promotional activities to increase usage of DiscoverEd among non-users and to draw users’ attention to less-used functionality

iv. Recommendations for future ongoing improvement of the service


6. Post project (unknown)

a. Presenting on the project methodology and findings at conferences and seminars (e.g.  Ex Libris International and UK User Groups, Library Discovery Events, etc.)


Current project status

Report Date RAG Budget Effort Completed Effort to complete
July 2018 GREEN 0.0 days 0.0 days 0.0

Project Info

DiscoverEd Improvements
IS Innovation - IS Corporate (ISI)
Management Office
Project Manager
Gordon Andrew
Project Sponsor
Gavin McLachlan
Current Stage
Start Date
Planning Date
Delivery Date
Close Date
Overall Priority


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