Evaluating the usability of user-centred catalogues : a model based on heuristics

Objectives: To use heuristic evaluation to analyse the usability of user-centred catalogues and discovery tools currently implemented by university libraries.

Methodology: The authors developed a specific heuristic model for analysing the usability of different user-centred library catalogues and discovery tools after reviewing the studies conducted in this field over the last thirty years.

Results: The study showed that the user experience of the next-generation university library catalogues is still far from satisfactory, evidenced in a number of serious flaws: the use of search boxes that do not stand alone or cannot search catalogues site-wide; lack of clarity in criteria in relevance-ranked results; the inclusion, often in unnecessarily large numbers, of facets that are not useful to the user; and the dearth of socially rich features, such as opportunities for users to generate content in the form of ratings, comments, tags and lists.