A Matter of Perspective

I’m new. I am brand new to this blog and fairly new at my job. One lesson I recently learned, or more accurately, had reinforced, was the importance of seeing things through the eyes of other people.

At my library, I was asked to create an online tutorial for accessing specific material from the catalog. I was proud of myself – I didn’t just fire up Adobe Captivate and start screen capturing. I scripted exactly what I wanted to show, practiced it several times, did several takes, edited, and ended up with a product I was pretty happy with. The next step was to get feedback from my colleagues. There were two common themes. One, that is was too fast. Two, where was the bottom of it? The first one made sense – I was so familiar with the pop-up captions that I wasn’t even reading them, really. Fixed! The second was more confusing. It was right there! Had I sent around a bad link? Was there some browser incompatibility preventing the navigation controls, which should have been at the bottom, from appearing? (When in doubt, blame IE6!) Finally, I saw a colleague run the tutorial on her computer, and it all made sense – resolution!

As it turned out, everyone at work does not set their computer to the maximum resolution. I set my screen to maximum resolution to create as much screen real estate as possible. Other people apparently don’t like squinting at their screens all day. There was no easy fix for this problem, unfortunately. Captivate, the program I used creating the tutorial, does not rescale projects well. Its cropping tool, on the other hand, works very well. After I shaved a few hundred vertical pixels off the tutorial, the bottom, with all of the controls, was visible on my co-workers’ computers as well as the Library’s public computers.

That solved my immediate problem, but left a little more work to determine how to see it through the eyes, and screen, of our patrons. According to w3schools.com, a website I refer to frequently for web design questions, nearly 80% of users have screen resolutions above 1024×768, and less than 5% are below that threshold. That gave me some confidence in sizing the tutorial so that it works for most users. However, I occasionally see students with netbooks at the library. Even some of today’s best netbooks only have 1024×600 screen resolution. Luckily, the Library has a text guide on its website right under the link to the tutorial, so small-screen users with browsers aren’t left with nothing! How many screen sizes does your library test new online material against? How do you accommodate different screen sizes?

I’m going to conveniently ignore mobile browsers for now. Because of their small screen size and issues with Flash, this type of tutorial was not mobile-friendly from the beginning.

This entry was posted in Library Displays, Inspiration and Design Ideas, Technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Matter of Perspective

  1. When using Adobe Captivate, if you link to the .swf file, instead of the .html one, the tutorial will resize itself to fit whatever browser your viewer is using.

    See http://www.bu.edu/av/lawlibrary/journals/newspaperpdf/newspaperpdf.swf as compared with http://www.bu.edu/av/lawlibrary/journals/newspaperpdf/newspaperpdf.htm

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