UT Libraries prepares to debut new website

Sami Sparber

When students visit the UT Libraries website on Nov. 6, they may be surprised to encounter a completely redesigned homepage.

Travis Willmann, UT Libraries communications officer, said the UT library system has spent the past eight months developing a streamlined version of the site, using the main UT-Austin homepage as a template.

The website was built in the 1990s, and the librarians have wanted a redesign for a long time, Willmann said.

“All of those things that we started developing in the mid-’90s … were still hiding out in our website, so it was bloated,” Willmann said. 

It wasn’t until a group of students from UT’s Senate of College Councils approached the library in January 2016 with a written proposal that the redesign process was kickstarted, Willmann said. 

Accounting junior Christina Wen co-authored the proposal with a group of Senate members, who were all freshmen at the time. 

“Since we were all taking undergraduate studies courses that required us to complete research using the library website, we each experienced the same frustration with the cluttered layout that made it difficult to find the information we needed,” Wen said. “We decided to pursue this issue further and take our observations directly to the source.”

Allyssa Guzman, digital scholarship librarian and project owner for the website redesign, said the library’s team completely overhauled the site by decluttering the homepage in favor of a sleeker design and more functionality. 

“We created a single search bar, so there’s no longer a mass of tabs and drop-down menus to sift through,” Guzman said. “We also redid the navigation so that the language that we used is more jargon-free and makes more sense to students, who are our primary users. For example, we replaced the term ‘interlibrary loan’ with ‘borrow from another library.’”

The new site is also mobile-responsive, meaning users can conduct on-the-go research using tablets and smartphones, said Lydia Fletcher, STEM liaison librarian for physical and mathematical sciences. Fletcher said adapting the site for mobile use will be hugely beneficial for busy students. 

As the site’s release nears, Wen said she looks forward to seeing her team’s hard work pay off.

“It’s really satisfying to know that at UT, students’ opinions really do matter,” Wen said. “We have the power to create tangible change on campus when we make our voices heard.”