National library of scotland

Improving the UX of Scotland's Moving Image Archive

Promoting access to films of Scotland and it’s people

The National Library of Scotland is Scotland's largest library and the world centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots. It's Moving Image Archive collects, preserves and promotes access to films capturing Scotland and it’s people, from the early days of film-making to the present day. With an online catalogue of 46,000 items including film cans, videotapes and digital files, users can access around 100 years of Scotland's history captured by amateur and professional film-makers.

We undertook user research to improve the overall user experience of the website and to encourage repeat visits and referrals. The scope of the project involved user testing at two phases:

  • Phase 1 - evaluation of the existing site and proposed changes.
  • Phase 2 - assess the improvements of a newly commissioned look, feel and structure.

Phase 1 - Understanding the limitations of the existing site

During phase 1 of the project we carried out a number of UX techniques to produce a comprehensive report of the existing site, and suggest practical recommendations for improvement.

Focus Groups

We conducted focus group sessions with eight participants, representing various website audiences. During the focus group we were able to gain a better understanding of some of the key issues surrounding the current website, as well as capture suggestions for the future developments of the homepage, design, search and Information Architecture.

Card Sorting Exercises

An electronic card sort was conducted to explore how users grouped information on the website so that an Information Architecture (IA) could be devised with the user in mind. The card sort captured 21 responses from site users and the findings identified key content groupings which helped propose a new IA.

Usability Testing

Usability testing was conducted with six participants representing various online users. The overall objective of this technique was to determine the extent in which the current website facilitates the users ability to complete routine tasks. Each test session lasted approximately 1.5 hours in total and included a pre-test interview, task-based usability test and post-test survey.

Phase 2 - Confirming the improvements work for the user

We captured a number of usability issues and recommendations for improvement during phase 1. This enabled us to propose a new Information Architecture for the categorisation and structure of content across the site, as well as a set of wireframes that offered a visual representation of the 'ideal solution'.

The NLS project team took these recommendations on board and developed a prototype for the new website, which we then tested at Phase 2. This second phase of user testing looked to ascertain whether the new structure and layout improved the user experience and identifed any further usability issues or difficulties encountered.

We conducted a second round of usability testing; applying the same techniques as in Phase 1 to gather comperative data which confirmed that the proposed structure, design and Information Architecture met user expectations and needs.

A better design, a new structure and an improved user experience

The output from the second phase of testing was a detailed report of our findings, together with recommendations and video footage of all test sessions. NLS have now embraced our recommendations and are working on a project to put them in place.

The new Moving Image Archive will offer a better design, a new structure and an improved user experience.