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Banned Books


American Library Association


UX researcher


4 months ( Jan2019 - Apr2019 )




User research


Qualtrics, Interviews, User flows, Personas, Comparative analysis, Heuristic evaluation, A/B testing, Usability testing


The Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association redesigned the Banned Books website in 2017. They wanted to ensure the redesign met users' needs by having a website that offered easy website navigation and access to frequently requested materials. Our team conducted a needs assessment and a seven-step usability evaluation of the website to understand where users experienced difficulty and provided recommendations to address those issues.

The Banned Books website landing page in 2019
The Banned Books website landing page in 2019

Project background

The Banned Books website is a resource for individuals to learn about banned or challenged books and the censorship of literature. The Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), a department within the American Library Association, implements policies on intellectual freedom and free access to libraries and library materials and manages the website.

The Banned Books website is easily confused with Banned Books Week, a sibling website dedicated to the week-long annual and nationally hosted event organized by the OIF.

Problem statement

The OIF redesigned the Banned Books website in 2017 and wants to ensure the redesign meets users' needs by providing easy website navigation and access to frequently requested materials.


Interaction mapping icon

Interaction mapping

Illustrated multiple user pathways when navigating the website

User interviews icon

User interviews

We interviewed the appropriate user groups to discuss their general attitudes on book censorship and their opinions of the current website

Competitive analysis icon

Competitive analysis

We analyzed competitor websites to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current website configuration

User survey icon

User survey

Distributed a 30-question survey to target a larger group of users, gathering additional data about general attitudes, knowledge, and opinions about the Banned Books website

Hueristic evaluation icon

Hueristic evaluation

Each team member performed an evaluation of the Banned Books website to identify significant usability issues from different perspectives

User preference icon

User preference

Created a preference test for users to compare the current Banned Books landing page with a reformatted version

Usability testing icon

Usability testing

We performed a moderated usability test with users to understand their experience navigating the Banned Books website

Overall findings

  1. The navigation on the Banned Books website is not intuitive. It can be difficult for a user to decipher, which was highly evident in our Usability testing. Users expressed confusion with the navigation tabs located further down the page instead of at the top
  2. Users had difficulty navigating between the Banned Books Website and the ALA Store because 1) accessing the ALA store redirected users out of the Banned Books site into a different section of the larger ALA website, and 2) navigation breadcrumbs were not present.
  3. Users and potential users expressed interest in discussing censorship and banned books because they find the reasons why books are banned fascinating

Main recommendations

  1. Create a visible navigation bar at the top or left side of the homepage
  2. Add a discussion section or forum to the webpage in place of 'Top 10 Most Challenged Books'. Can also Combine 'Most Challenged Books' and 'Frequently Challenged books' sections
  3. Highlight the link to the ALA Store, and warn users they are leaving the Banned Books Webpage when they click it
  4. Add a redirect link to the Banned Books website on both the ALA store and Banned Books Week landing page

Personal takeaway

If I could go back and improve an aspect of the project, it would be the User Preference test. In hindsight, we could have done a more comprehensive test, incorporating additional pages rather than focusing solely on the landing page. We missed out on some rich information by limiting ourselves to one page.