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Western New Mexico University Library (WNMU)

A redesign project for a public university library serving the Latinx community in Silver City, New Mexico.

UX Designer & Researcher



3 Months



Adobe XD

Axure RP


Voyant Tools



In this case study, my team and I undertook a project focused on the revitalization of the J. Cloud Miller Library at Western New Mexico University (WNMU). This endeavor involved a comprehensive overhaul of both the desktop and mobile interfaces of the existing platform. The previous design had become outdated and no longer aligned with the present and anticipated future requirements of its user base.

Over the course of recent years, WNMU has undergone a comprehensive transformation. This metamorphosis encompassed a broad spectrum of areas, including the expansion and diversification of academic programs, a heightened emphasis on distance learning necessitated by the pandemic, the growth of their archival collections, and an enhanced integration of technology. However, these advancements were not adequately reflected in the existing design and information architecture (IA), rendering the interface outdated. Furthermore, the website fell short in terms of aligning with the university's overarching branding strategy and its mission to foster inclusivity, primarily due to unresolved accessibility concerns.

Our objective for this project was to design an interface for the library's website that encourages findability and accessibility, while also reflecting the university's overall brand and mission in the design.

The original WNMU library website homepage on desktop.

The original WNMU desktop interface.

Client Goals

  • Improve the website's information architecture from user insights.

  • Create space to include distance learning resources for remote students.

  • Emphasize university's brand in the overall design.

User Groups

  • Students

  • Staff

  • Faculty

  • Library Visitors

Research Methods

For this project, our team employed a variety of research methods to influence the prototypes we created for this project. Research methods for this study included:

  • Cart Sorting

  • Stakeholder Interviews

  • Usability Testing

  • Competitor Analysis

Card Sorting for Improved IA

A total of 6 stakeholders actively engaged in the card sorting activities, representing all 4 distinct user groups. The outcome of this study allowed our team to distill the collected insights into a novel IA. This synthesis not only provided us with a clear direction but also set us on a trajectory to uncover effective strategies for enhancing the website's IA in a substantial manner.

Original IA

User Card Sort Activity Results

Usability Testing

During usability testing, participants were asked to rate the level of difficulty they experienced completing a series of tasks on a 1 to 5 Likert scale (1 being the easiest and 5 being the most difficult). The team also recorded observed user difficulty on a scale of 1 to 3 (1 user cannot complete task to 3 user can perform task quickly).  Participants were also timed while completing each task. If a task was not completed within 1 minute, users were asked to move on to the next task and the task was marked as "incomplete". We found that 44% of the time during the entire study, participants were unable to complete the tasks within one minute.

User Interviews

At the end of usability testing, we asked each participant to share their opinions on the WNMU library's current website. Each user was asked the following questions:

  • What do you like most about the current design of the website and why?

  • What do you like least about the current design of the website and why?

  • Overall, did the navigation of the website feel intuitive to you? Why or why not?

  • What are your thoughts on the language used for the website's labels?

  • If you could change one thing about the website what would it be?

Direct User Quotes


Revisit the website's navigation menu structure and apply a more modern design to the overall site. Remove some of the services that are not related to the library.


Making the site more visually consistent would go a long way to helping. Also, separating out or just making the information in that top-right research box in a not as small font would be really helpful.


The red on gray areas are very off-putting and makes it hard to read the red text.



Following the collection of user data through usability testing, interviews, and card sorting exercises, we crafted personas that proved instrumental in fostering user-centric empathy throughout the iterative design cycle.

Persona Image: Jessica | she/her | Digital Collections Librarian
Persona bio
Persona quote: I want our website to suppor the university's digital collections. At the moment, the library website does not.
Persona accessibility rating for the WNMU website.
Persona's goals and tasks.
Persona's pain points using the WNMU website.


The information our team gathered from stakeholder interviews, card sorting, and usability testing played a vital role in the creation of our high fidelity prototype for the library website's interface and the revised IA.

Improved IA

The IA was developed from the card sorting activities completed by users, user feedback collected from interviews, and usability tests. The results from these activities were processed using a text analysis tool called Voyant Tools to create the sitemap's IA. To navigate the below IA diagram, click the magnify plus and minus buttons in the bottom right corner or click the expand button in the upper right corner for a full view.



Many of our client's users voiced a concern with the large number of pages listed within the navigation menu; many of which were not related to the library website itself. Our navigation menu focused on the core services and resources provided by the library with select pages from other university departments that are more frequently sought out due to their close relation to services provided by the library. The IA acquired by the card sorting activities influenced the navigation menu.

Final prototype homepage.
Mobile version of the final prototype.


Our client's priority was accessibility and branding. Therefore, it was imperative that throughout the design thinking process the brand of the university library and the university as a whole was incorporated.

Digital Collections

With a growing list of online programs, our client voiced their desire to create a website for the library that supports distance learning. This includes eventually making their onsite special collections available online. Our prototype accommodates future digital collections that can support their online learners.


Creating a practical and user-focused design for the J. Cloyd Miller Library was challenging due to the lack of client involvement and access to their users. We focused our efforts on conducting market research, usability testing with five users, card sorting activities,  and persona creation. In the end, our team and client were both satisfied with the end result. ​

Desktop version of the final prototype.
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