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Mobile Web

Account Usability Testing Round 1

November 12, 2013 | TPL Staff | Comments (5)

Assuming other news may have distracted you from reading our most recent blog post, here's a brief update on what we're doing. The Account Redesign Project team is hard at work developing a new mobile friendly account experience and on November 4th we put our prototype in front of several library users. This was the first of many planned user testing sessions. We observed users in action performing tasks like renewing books, cancelling holds, and changing pickup locations. 

A library user testing the prototype on a phone

As we have been working ‘mobile first’ i.e. starting with design for the smallest screen – the first round of testing focused on mobile devices. Members of the Website Advisory Group were invited to participate in this day of testing.

Testing was conducted on an interactive prototype of the design, a sort of live sketch of the new account. This allowed us to ask people to interact with the prototype and complete typical library account management tasks. By doing task based testing, for example asking someone how they would renew their books, we get invaluable feedback on how easy tasks are to complete and whether users can see the information they need.

Outstanding holds screen grab
Account prototype as of November 12th.

We met some great people and got an excellent sense of what in the design is working and where improvements are needed. Overall, the task completion rate was high, meaning we are on the right track, but there were a few stumbling blocks in the design, like the ability to access branch open hours information easily. 

User testing findings

  • you want to easily be able to see time-sensitive information,
  • you want clear and consistent date formats,
  • you don’t consider outstanding hold expiry dates very important,
  • you want easier access to branch open hours information.

This week we've been reviewing and analyzing your feedback and our testing observations and are fast at work making revisions in preparation for our next round of testing. 

A big, big thank you to all those who came out and participated. Please keep checking back here for regular updates on our progress and to let us know how we're doing. If you would like to join the Website Advisory Group and have a chance to see the new Account first hand, please let us know.

Account redesign underway!

October 22, 2013 | TPL Staff | Comments (0)

The Web Team is excited to announce that we will be redesigning the account section of the TPL website over the next few months. 

Why are we doing this?

There are some important changes to the technology underlying the account that we have to implement, and this will allow us to fix some longstanding issues and make some desirable improvements.

Additionally, the increasing number of people accessing their TPL accounts from mobile devices is a key factor. We realize that our customers want to be able to check their accounts from a wide range of smart phones, tablets, and laptops of all shapes and sizes. The current account is not providing a great experience on smaller screens, and we want to change that.

TPL Website Mobile Device Visits: Sep 2011 - 6%, Sep 2012 - 12%, Sep 2013 - 22%

Are we making some long sought-after feature improvements?

No, sadly, but this first step will set us up to deliver improvements like personal lists and borrowing history in the near future. We are going to be addressing some smaller issues such as displaying your hold pick-up branch and card expiry date, and improving the date formats that are displayed.

We’re also working to improve how quickly we can deliver new features. Building on some major ‘plumbing’ changes that have occurred over the last two years, this project includes process and platform changes that will make the web team more efficient at rolling out improvements.

Follow what we’re doing and get involved

While this project is underway, we will be posting regular updates to this blog and asking for your input. If you want to be informed about opportunities to get involved with design or testing, please join the Website Advisory Group.

We hope you will follow along with us on this journey and look forward to meeting you online and in your local branch!


Update Oct 25: bar chart replaces line chart

Accessing TPL eBooks and Audiobooks on your Blackberry Playbook

February 24, 2012 | Niall | Comments (11)

Update (August 21, 2014): OverDrive is no longer supporting their app for the Blackberry Playbook.

The recently released BlackBerry OverDrive Mobile App and new OS (2.0) for Blackberry Playbook allows users to access ebooks and audiobooks through their device.   Some have experienced difficulties getting this app to work properly so we’ve compiled some instructions to help users. Try following these steps to get ebooks working on your BlackBerry Playbook.

OverDrive Mobile App for BlackBerry Playbook

Download OS 2

  • Tap "Settings" on your Playbook (upper right hand corner)
  • Select "Software Updates"
  • Tap "Check for Updates"  and download the new operating system

Get the OverDrive App

  • Tap on the "App World" icon on the Playbook
  • Enter “Overdrive Media Console” in the search box
  • On the results page, select OverDrive’s mobile app
  • Tap “Download” to install the app
  • When the download completes, open it and select “Yes” to grant trusted application status

Authorize Your Device.

  • Open the OverDrive mobile app already installed on your Blackberry Playbook
  • Swipe down from the top of the screen to see the options menu for the app
  • Select "App Settings"
  • Scroll down the App Settings screen until you see where to enter your Adobe ID and password and tap “Authorize”
  • If you do not have an Adobe ID, tap the button to obtain a free ID and fill out the form on the Adobe website

Add TPL to your Library List

  • Open OverDrive’s mobile app on your BlackBerry Playbook
  • Swipe down from the top of the screen to see the options menu for the app
  • Select "Get Books"
  • Tap "Add a Library" and enter “Toronto Public Library” in the search box and tap “Search” 
  • Select any TPL branch displayed in the results
  • Tap the star next to the library name to add it to your library list
  • Tap the library name to visit TPL’s mobile OverDrive site

Download Ebooks

  • From the TPL mobile OverDrive site, use the buttons at the top of the screen to Browse or Search for Adobe EPUB ebooks or MP3 audiobooks
  • Check the box to show only available titles
  • Once you’ve found a title, tap “Add to Cart”
  • When you’re ready to checkout, tap “Proceed to Checkout” from within your cart
  • Log in with your library card number and PIN when prompted
  • Tap “Confirm Checkout”
  • Tap “Download” beneath the title in your OverDrive bookshelf
  • The title will download to your Playbook and open, ready for you to enjoy!


Toronto 2.0

January 31, 2009 | TPL Staff | Comments (6)

Toronto 2.0 Globe and Mail, Saturday, January 31, 2009I was thrilled to open up this morning's Globe and see an article about the City of Toronto and open data:  Toronto 2.0: Data Sharing Source.

A few weeks ago we created a post about opening up the Library's data because making our content accessible and mash-able is a priority for the Library.

Today's article talks about Toronto being a real leader in social computing uptake and also a innovator in civic engagement.  It specifically talks about Change Camp, which took place last weekend.  Change Camp's mandate: 

"How do we re-imagine government and citizenship 

in the age of participation?"

At the Library we imagine many possibilities.   Like you looking for a book from your mobile phone and then being able to get TTC, driving or walking directions to the nearest available copy.  We also imagine you browsing the internet and being able to see related Library resources and programming information.  We're not entirely there yet, but the willingness and the motivation is and the capabilities are definitely coming along.

The web team will be at Toronto's Mesh Conference again this year and are looking forward to a lively discussion about social computing and open data that meets civic needs.  So if you happen to also be attending, make sure you stop one of us for a chat.

It is an exciting time for us here at the Library and for all Torontonians!

Library tip for accessing news online: Do you ever get a "To continue reading, you will need to purchase this article." message from newspaper websites?  That message is your cue to go to the Library's website where you will able to find, read and print the full text of newspapers articles that are no longer available through the news company's website.  As always, it's free, with your Library card.

Staff from the Toronto Public Library's eServices team talk about recent changes, future plans and ideas and issues you raise about the library's online and mobile services.

What the Web Team is reading on the web