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What to call it….

Ever sit in a meeting listening or contributing to one of those endless debates about what to label a button your website? We have all learned that real users just don’t get our professional initialism and acronyms (OPAC, ILL, RSS, etc.) Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop many library sites (including some I’ve been involved in!) from using these types of labels.
John Kupersmith maintains a little webpage called:
Library terms evaluated in usability tests and other studies
In a simple three column chart he lists the research sources for ‘What didn’t work’ (terms reported as being misunderstood, not understood, or not preferred) and ‘What did work’ (terms reported as being understood or preferred; successful strategies for presenting or explaining terms.
It is worth bookmarking. Take look and think about what you see on your site. Test something new.
I heard recently that several libraries increased the usage of their “Ask A Librarian” buttons/links by renaming them to “Ask A Person” – indeed it increased manyfold.
Hmmmm. Want more work, check out your labels. Need to reduce users finding you, try some of the labels that don’t work as well. Wemasters, want to play drive the phone staff crazy. . . ?
Tongue firmly in cheek,

Posted on: December 12, 2005, 11:07 pm Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Stephen —
    Thanks for the encouraging words. Those “endless debates” you describe are exactly what inspired this site!
    I’m interested in the reports of increased usage with “Ask a Person”. Can you provide any leads to libraries that have experienced this? Data on what terms actually *do* work are rare enough to chase down!

  2. Love the topic of library language ideal for users, and I love John’s site.
    Also wanted to point out the NJIT library site (with which I am not affiliated) and how they link to their “chat” service: they use the little AIM icon at the top right of the screen and underneath it is the phrase “Ask a Librarian”
    Not sure about the copyright implications of using the little AIM guy icon, but it’s *definitely* clear to the user what it means!