Finding your way with Design Thinking at the University of Sydney

ALIA Library

Buckley, Susanne; Goldsworthy, Rebecca; Harrison, Michelle; Masters, Kate; O'Brien, Megan; Prezios, Poppy; Quilty, Elizabeth

ALIA Information Online 2015 Conference, 2-5 February 2015, Sydney: at the edge.
In 2013, the University of Sydney Library invited Anne Melles and Yasmin Moore from Monash University Library to deliver a workshop on Design Thinking (DT) and its applicability to the academic library setting. DT draws on a diverse range of disciplines to provide a methodological framework for user-centred problem-solving. Following the workshop, a small group was formed to investigate the way in which users move through various spaces within the library (physical and virtual), and to track their experience, broadly described as ‘wayfinding’. Primary aims of the Wayfinding group were to:
A. Experiment with DT as a way of identifying user needs and propose user-driven solutions in relation to wayfinding, and
B. Develop tools and processes to help colleagues look at user behaviour from a fresh perspective.
The group conducted a series of surveys to find out what ‘wayfinding’ meant to library staff. This produced a working definition that guided later activities. A literature scan uncovered methods for uncovering user requirements (McGinn & Kotamraju, 2008; McQuaid, Goel, & McManus, 2003; Vyas, De Groot, & Van Der Veer, 2006). These methods included developing personas which are rich descriptions of users that allow ‘designers’ to step outside their own knowledge domain and see a situation from the user’s point of view. Personas were developed utilising several streams of data, including the University’s statistical reports, the recently completed University of Sydney Library Client Survey 2013 (Insync Survey),1 and focused observation of library users. Further analysis of the Insync Survey data guided the creation of ‘scenarios’ in which users attempt to 'find their way' to complete a task. Personas and scenarios were then brought together to create rich narratives of user journeys through library space. Common themes and issues were then extrapolated from these narratives.
In applying DT principles to wayfinding, the Wayfinding group was able to propose more intuitive services grounded in the user experience. The Wayfinding group shared insights with other library project groups, helping colleagues to employ DT in the development of their projects. One instance of such collaboration informed the composition and placement of touchscreens to enhance user navigation in the library.

Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association
Monash University