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Influencing User Behavior through Digital Library Design (17 May 2005)
The integration of research studies, user-centered design techniques, and evaluation studies provided powerful guidance in the development of the Starting Point DL portal as a tool for professional development of geoscience faculty. The research study we completed showed ways in which the site design could build on the existing work habits of our users to bring them in contact with new information that they did not traditionally look for on the web. Further, our research suggested ways in which we could present material that would increase faculty confidence and thus their inclination to use the Starting Point site. Walkthroughs refined the design of the site and also our understanding of user behavior with the actual library portal. Evaluation studies are helping us to generalize this understanding to the full spectrum of our users while linking the use of the site to its impact on teaching the overarching goal of the project and its funders.

The preference for faculty to learn about teaching within the context of the topic they teach, and the important influence of trusted colleagues on faculty teaching behaviors, have distinct implications for the design of digital library portals and digital resources for faculty, as well as implications for faculty professional development more broadly. This suggests that we have only begun to explore the potential of digital library portals to motivate and support the use of digital libraries and their resources. The type of rich portal modeled in the Starting Point DL offer opportunities for website design, research on learning and digital libraries to come together to develop powerful learning tools for users.
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