Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



This article examines the usability testing of a responsively redesigned library Web site. Responsive design provides a unified user experience regardless of the device used to view a site. The study's aim is twofold: to determine if the responsively designed site and its external online services support users’ information seeking needs, and to discover if there is a singular experience across different devices. A cognitive walkthrough was the main testing instrument used in gathering input. Over two rounds of testing, students of various class years and technological skill from the New York City of Technology (City Tech), CUNY participated in the study. The first round of testing for this usability study on the library Web site was previously documented (Tidal 2015) This article presents the findings and comparisons between the first and second round of usability testing. The study found not only numerous improvements that could enhance the library Web site, but also the lack of a unified experience between tablet, smartphone, and desktop users, despite using a responsive design. Smartphone users were at a disadvantage in utilizing library resources. The study also found there was a significant usability impact in using a mobile-optimized discovery tool among users in comparison to its Web OPAC predecessor.

Tidal, J. (2015). “One Site to Rule Them All: Usability Testing of a Responsively Designed Library Web Site.” In Creating Sustainable Community: The Proceedings of the ACRL 2015 Conference, edited by D. Mueller. Paper presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries, Portland, OR, 25–28 March (pp. 593–604). Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.).


This work was originally published in Journal of Web Librarianship, available at



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.