When Readex recently posed this question to a wide range of researchers, we heard four crucial things:
- Modern styling—researchers want primary source databases that are visually engaging and feel “right”
- Ease of use—both experts and novices want their path to primary sources to be simple and intuitive
- Speed!—software must search quickly, deliver relevant results in a blink, and rapidly display large images
- Flexible tools that optimize content use and which map to common user needs and workflows.
With this feedback front and center, Readex has been busy making fresh improvements to its interfaces.
Two months ago I had the pleasure of announcing a major overhaul of the America’s Historical Newspapers and World Newspaper Archive platform. User reaction has been extremely positive, and it’s gratifying to see more usage and better research outcomes.
We’ve already saved many users a substantial amount of time, too, by introducing a number of efficiencies to the interface.
Of course the work is never done, nor should it be. It’s important to stay abreast of needs and to make continuous improvements to our interfaces and services.
During the past several months we’ve been focusing on the fourth bullet above—“flexible tools that optimize content use.” Much of our effort has focused on enhancing the “document view” experience (sometimes called the “image viewer”) in our products. This is where users encounter the actual primary source in image form.
Throughout 2018, we met with users and asked them about the image viewer. Here’s what they said: