Collections > Master's Papers > School of Information and Library Science > Looking for Answers: A Usability Study of Online Finding Aid Navigation

In an effort to move towards a practical and user-centered model for online finding aid navigation, this usability study asks -- what kind of navigational features are effective, efficient, and user-valued components within an academic archive's online finding aid? Using Princeton University's Finding Aid website as a prototype, the researcher collected quantitative as well as qualitative data from ten relatively inexperienced online finding aid users as they interacted with and reacted to the finding aid interface in question. The results of the study suggest major navigational difficulties experienced by users included ambiguous and/or unintuitive labeling, unclear relationships between tabs, and insufficient visual cues for certain navigational features. In contrast, user-valued navigation aids included centralized hyperlinked content, nested and hierarchical content tabs, and a collection-level search bar. The paper concludes with ten pragmatic guidelines for archival professionals trying to solve the ongoing puzzle of online archival finding aid usability.