website design, website assessment, website evaluation, fluid design, mixed methods, usability test, same-look design


Objective: When the AAA Library (BBB) at CCC released a new website with same-look capabilities for computers, tablets, and smartphones, we undertook a summative assessment to review website features and to determine baseline measures of website access via device and patron group.

Methods: The study used a mixed methods approach using three levels of assessment (focus groups, an online survey, and a usability test), with each level informing the subsequent level.

Results: The website changes were well-received by the overwhelming majority of patrons. Device usage was associated with the type of task for which patrons were accessing the website. Computers were used primarily for research-related tasks (e.g., accessing journals, databases, and the main search bar). Smartphones were used primarily for on-the-go tasks (e.g., accessing personal accounts, finding library hours, and reserving group study rooms). Tablets fell between these two. Several website services were identified as being underused. Study results were moderated by time of release (i.e., only half of survey participants had viewed the new website) and access to device (i.e., many patrons did not have access to a tablet or a smartphone).

Conclusions: The summative assessment of the BBB’s new website was well-received and viewed as a positive change. While most patrons were initially unaware of the same-look feature across devices, this was considered to be a positive change. As devices become more accessible for patrons, it is believed that website access by device will change. A follow-up study is planned to assess any changes in use patterns or use of access devices.

Original Publication Citation

Holt Zaugg, Vera Terekhova (Nan), Brian Rennick, Evaluation of an Academic Library's Liquid Designed Website, Evidence Based Library and Information Science, Vol 10, No 4 (2015)

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


University of Alberta Learning Services




Harold B. Lee Library

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor