Researching and prototyping a browser extension to connect people with credible library resources.
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  • UX designer

Length of the project:

6 weeks

Tools used:

  • Marvel
  • Axure

UX tactics included:

  • Direct/Indirect Competitor Profiling
  • Unstructured/Structured Interviews
  • Affinity Mapping
  • Paper Prototyping
  • User Personas and Journey
  • Usability Testing



My team of three designers was challenged to create a digital product to help the library strengthen its reach. The assignment was vague (again, this was a study project) - we were essentially told to just brainstorm on how libraries could attract more visitors in the digital age.

“Today we are in the midst of a tremendous shift in the way Americans consume literature and other content, but one thing has not changed — the library must continue to play a central role in providing open and free access to information and ideas.”
- Huffington Post


Through our research, we discovered that users have a lot of respect and trust for a library. However, many of them hardly used library services. This dissonance between what users believed and how they acted led us to the creation of a browser extension: ResourceFull. The extension helps our users to find trustworthy library resources at their convenience, that they may not have known were so accessible.



To figure out who we should include for competitor analysis, we looked at a library mission statement to see what their true value proposition was.

“We welcome and support all people in their enjoyment of reading and pursuit of lifelong learning. Working together, we strive to provide equal access to information, ideas, and knowledge through books, programs, and other resources. We believe in the freedom to read, to learn, to discover.”
- Chicago Public Library

So, a library's main purpose is to provide access to information, ideas, and knowledge. We thought that search engines and book stores fit this concept, so we did a SWOT analysis using Google, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. The competitors' weaknesses are either paid access or lack of curation of materials offered.

Amazon - paid access
Google - too much information, lack of credibility
Barnes & Noble - paid access, limited to books


In addition to our SWOT analysis, we spoke with six librarians in a variety of roles. We chose libraries with different sizes and locations to give us a better general picture.

Key findings:

  • There is a shortage of teachers/volunteers to offer new programs for the community
  • Small budgets are limiting when it comes to offering digital knowledge (3D printers aren't cheap!)
  • Most SMEs agreed that library websites are hard to navigate
  • Some library employees said they have trouble reaching young professionals
“Young professionals are the hardest group to reach. Once they are out of college and until they have kids, there is not much that interests them in the library”.
- Gina, Digital Resources Manager at Boulder Public Library.


Lots of our key findings felt like things that were out of our reach (making budget changes, for example), but Gina's comment stood out to us. It was something we could definitely relate to, and felt like a gap that could be bridged. To understand why young professionals aren't utilizing their local libraries, we conducted a survey with 108 people (variety of ages), and interviewed 6 (young professionals). We didn't just target people who don't use library resources; we also wanted to know what people that were using their libraries found useful.

Survey findings

  • 98% of users use the internet multiple times a day
  • 66% of users use the library a few times a year or never
  • 52% of users say the internet replaces the library

At this point, it looked like people believed the internet can offer most of the information needed, along with being more convenient.

Interview findings

  • There was lack of knowledge about what a library can offer. Interviewees believed that the library is merely a place to get a book.
  • Going to the library was too inconvenient.
  • The resources at the library felt more credible than trusting search results (blog posts, random articles, etc).
“I think one of the things that keep me using the library is that you can really trust the information that is there. Or I can compare it more objectively to the information I’m getting from other sources”.
- Michael
“There’s just too much to keep up with right now. It’s busy. Yeah”.
- Phillip

Defining users



Henry Williams
The social butterfly
Age: 32

“I stay pretty busy.”


  • Engaging with his community
  • Staying updated with current events
  • Easily access resources he’s interested in
  • Finding trustworthy sources


  • Not being able to find the items and media he desires at a convenient location
  • Feels like he doesn’t have enough time
  • Available time not lining up with interests


  • Having access to information/media instantly
  • Making connections with other people/social opportunities
  • Learn something every day


journey map

Henry's journey. * simplified for presentation purposes



As a team, we decided to dig deeper into the credibility advantage. Additional research helped us to define the following cognitive dissonance:

  • 87% of millennials, according to Pew Research Center think that libraries help find information that is trustworthy and reliable. - Belief
  • 60% of Pew Research Center study participants, agreed that it is difficult to know whether information found online is trustworthy. - Need
  • 66% of millennials interviewed by us prefer using the Internet and don’t use library services because they find them inconvenient.
    - Contradicting behavior

Why do millennials believe the library is credible, want better information, but not use the library?


The internet is a great resource for providing information quickly, but it’s not always credible. Young professionals need a flexible, reliable and fast way to learn more about their interests from sources they trust.



At first, we thought that the solution should be mobile (website or app) since most young professionals seem to spend a lot of time on their phone. But libraries typically have websites already, and that wasn't helping to address this problem. And it would be unlikely for someone to download an app for a library that they don't already use regularly.

We were trying to attract new visitors to the library. Young professionals already read a ton of blogs, articles, etc in their browser. A browser extension would let libarries showcase related resources they have on topics that a user is interested in/reading about.

Users interested in a topic can search via the extensions to find relevant resources.

search results
individual result
no search results screen
subject request screen

If a user’s search returns no results, they can send a request for the libarary to curate information for them.

Usability Test Results

  • All users successfully completed the tasks.
  • Most participants felt that the information provided was relatively credible.
  • Requesting curated information from the library takes too long.

Moving forward


  • Focus on how search results should be determined. Should the results come from an already curated list or search all library resources?
  • Add or transform the process of requesting curated resources into a live chat with a librarian.

For more

To cut the story short I have omitted a lot of details. If you have any questions or would like to see a particular artifact, please, do not hesitate to contact me at: