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Library Portal Images That Positively Influence Their Users’ Perception of the Portal

James Smith

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


This paper provides an example of how visual information – the images used on academic library Web portals (ALWPs) – transforms users’ perceptions of, and preference for, the portal. As a result of the information derived from this research the manner in which visual information is presented in ALWPs may be transformed. The study reported here compared the effect that high-image-pertinent (HIP) academic library portals and low-image-pertinent (LIP) academic library portals have on the users’ preference for one portal over the other.

This distinction in image pertinence is based on the observation that some library portals contain images that are more pertinent to their textual content than the images and text found in other library portals.

One hundred undergraduate students searched for the answers to two ten-question information retrieval exercises using matched-pairs of HIP and LIP academic library portals. The exercises were constructed of questions similar to those asked at an academic library’s reference desk.

Data collected and statistically analyzed included: the scores from the information retrieval exercises, the time to complete the information retrieval exercises, the mouse-clicks used to complete the information retrieval exercises and the users’ stated portal preference. The HIP portals outperformed the LIP portals and the subjects preferred the HIP portals to the LIP portals in 3 out of 4 measures of performance and preference.

The research reported here was conducted as part of the author’s dissertation. The author would like to thank the members of his committee: Dr. Charles Hildreth (chair), Dr. Chuck Broadbent, Dr. Michael Koenig, Dr. Mark Stover and Dr. Mary Westerman.

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