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2016-2017 User Interface Project

Since we started working in KB+ (in 2011), our main priority has been to fulfil the e-resources management requirements of the UK academic institutions. KB+ is a Knowledge Base  in which metadata is processed, normalised and augmented; it thus provides a system that librarians can use to manage their subscriptions and entitlements. KB+ consists of three main modules (plus another in development), and has several in-built tools that enable users to perform diverse library management operations.

Institutions have always welcomed, and still continue to welcome  the concept of Knowledge Base Plus. It has been built in close collaboration with librarians, consortia and other UK bodies such as SCONUL and RLUK, from whom we have received much useful advice. This community-centred approach has meant that early adopters of KB+ have been active participants, providing insightful information to the development work.

In 2015 we undertook a piece of research about how KB+ is being used now. The results of this research can be found on the User Cases, published on our webpage. The User Cases reflect how the system is being used to perform various library management operations and how users found KB+ beneficial to their performance, both adding value and saving them time.

A secondary outcome of this research was a series of problems related to the user interface, including complexity of vocabulary, difficulties with orientation in the site, etc.

We took these comments on board and carried out a second piece of research specific to the user interface. The aim of this project was to gather feedback from users to help us identify the main problem areas for those using the system.

The main outcomes of this research are:

KB+ modules are well used and integrated in internal workflows

KB+ openness and credibility are both essential elements of present and future success

The main concern about the interface was that KB+ design is more complex than necessary. Database design is the predominant approach in the present KB+ and it is not the simplest way to do things for users. A second highlighted concern is the large amount of information displayed, which is not always necessary to the users to perform their tasks.

We want to analyse and redesign the current user interface to ensure that the high-quality tools are accompanied by a smooth and straightforward user experience. We aim to ensure that users feel confident that using KB+ adds value to their work, increasing the efficiency of their library operations. This could take the form of giving a better experience to their patrons, saving them valuable time or raising their levels of performance.

We are very pleased to be working with M/A and Pure Usability on this project, as well as with our long-term partners SERO and Knowledge Integration.

We have specifically chosen a user-centred design approach for this project. This enables us to ensure KB+ new interface is optimised to our users’ needs, and is helpful, engaging and easy to operate. We look forward to receiving input and feedback from the KB+ community. If you are interested in participating, please send us a line to our email address

Some of the activities for which you can volunteer are:

Vocabulary Survey: Our aim is to produce a clearly defined vocabulary to support a consistent, understandable use of terms across KB+. To gather your feedback, we would be very grateful if you could spend few minutes completing this survey at (this survey is currently open).

User Testing: We would like to establish a group of users who are happy to participate in the prototyping testing. The testing session could take up to 30 minutes, and there will be several testing opportunities as the project develops. I you wish to be involved in prototyping testing, please contact me on


We are keen to hear from new users, existing users and non-users, so if you would like to help please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Last updated: February 2017