viaLibri Beta Chapter Two

No, we haven’t finished yet.  It was more than three weeks ago that we first announced the public launch of the beta version of the redesigned viaLibri website, but it was still a work in progress.   The new site had already been under development for over 3 years and in that time had undergone a substantial update in both features and appearance. We knew that change is always dangerous when attempting to update a website that already had a loyal and contented following.  We also knew that over the years our regular users have always been generous with suggestions and  feedback.  Their observations had always been a valuable guide to our evolving design.  For those reasons we were eager to know how they would react to the changes we were preparing to show to them.  We were also eager to receive their feedback and make sure that the website we were trying to build for them would still be the tool they actually wanted to use.

We were thus very gratified by the initial response from our bookselling colleagues and other long time users.  We were happy to hear several of them describe the new design as “modern” (which they liked) and that they were pleased that we are at last mobile-friendly, a step which had been long overdue.

But the most useful responses were the ones we received from many of our long-standing and regular users, some of whom we had never heard from before, who waited for several days before sending their long and carefully described verdicts.  From these we learned many useful things.  The first thing we learned was how much our users liked viaLibri as it already was and how unhappy many of them were to see it change.  For some it was just a matter, readily acknowledged, of annoyance at needing to replace old habits with new.  But there were also some whose habits were natural and productive. We did not want to replace them with others that would not serve as well. Fortunately, in most cases, updates and redesigns were possible and we were able to incorporate them into the new version in ways that generally made the site better than it would otherwise have been.

One complaint that was especially frequent and strongly felt was a factor in many of the latest  changes we have made.  We now know that our customers very much prefer a compact site.  They don’t like to scroll and prefer a cramped page to a spacious one if that is the price for minimising  the  number of screens that must be scrolled.  And they don’t like empty white space for similar reasons.

This is just a sampling of some of the things we learned and have incorporated into this latest version of our redesign.  I don’t doubt that there will be even more helpful feedback following this latest release.  We look forward to receiving it, because we haven’t finished yet.

9 thoughts on “viaLibri Beta Chapter Two”

  1. Refining my search results. I used to be able to refine my search results continuously by different criteria, say, 1st by bookseller (from which I delete duplicate offers on different Websites), 2d, say, by price, 3d, say, by condition. Now I can refine only once. I hope that you can restore the ability to refine more than once. Nothing more annoying about a fancy new design than not being able to do what the old design provided.

    1. Hello Donald,

      I believe the features you want are still there, but have been moved around and can easily go unnoticed. Or perhaps I have misunderstood your comment.

      After you make the initial search you can resort the search results by any of the regular criteria, such as by bookseller, price, year etc. (although we have never been able to sort by condition). The tool for changing the sort has moved to the upper right corner, where it is easily overlooked. We should probably do something to make it more prominent.
      But if you are trying to refine your search then you might also want to look in the left sidebar where we display a variety of metadata that you can use to further filter your results.

      This is something we have not had in the past but have now added to our recent update in order to facilitate the kind of follow up refinement I think you are interested in.

      If there is something else we have overlooked and left out please let me know. We may be able to get it into the next update.


  2. I have to say that I really like viaLibri Beta. There is only one minor thing that kind of annoys me about it. By way of background, after performing some searches (certainly not all), I am presented with a “Continue Searching” button. I’ve always found “Continue Searching” to be utterly useless since it never brings up anything new. All it ever does is bring up a subset of the same things that appeared the first time around. But I always click on “Continue Searching” anyway just in case. I never click on it more than once though, because if I do, I just end up in endless loops of the same stuff. But all of this was true with the old viaLibri too, and that’s not really what annoys me. What does annoy me is the “Edit Search” button. I make extensive use of this, but I’ve found that whenever I click on the “Continue Searching” button, the “Edit Search” button disappears on me, and I am only presented with the “New Search” and the “Search Libraries” buttons. Even that turns out not to be a major catastrophe because I eventually found out, quite by accident, that if I click on “Search” way up at the very top of the page next to the viaLibri logo, that has the same effect as the “Edit Search” button. So now I am able to edit my search even after clicking on “Continue Searching”. But this just seems really stupid. Why does the “Edit Search” button disappear like that? I wonder how many other people make frequent use of the “Edit Search” button and never accidentally discover, like I did, that the “Search” button up at the top has the same effect?

  3. Hi Jim,
    Not sure if anybody has brought it up but would it be possible to add hardback or paperback/softcover to the advanced search. I have just searched for Grossman’s Life and Fate with dust jacket, hoping for hardback results and have received loads of paper back copies in the results.

    Jim Ireland
    Andrew James Books

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