Annual Meeting Reports

How to Assess and Deploy Web Enhancements

For a beginner, choosing or developing a Web feature can be difficult. In this session, three speakers provided their opinions about Web-site implementation and taught the audience how to evaluate the important characteristics of a Web feature.

Michael Clarke, of Clarke Publishing Group, clarified the purpose of a Web feature. A successful Web feature, he said, should keep people on your Web site and keep them coming back to use it. Therefore, understanding readers’ needs is essential.

Clarke also made the following points: The main mission of a journal publisher’s Web site is to provide access to journal articles. The process of obtaining a PDF file of an article, however, can be lengthy. If people start from PubMed, they may need to take six steps to acquire the PDF file. A new search engine, Pubget, can simplify the process into three steps. Users just need to type keywords into the Pubget search engine; they can then arrive at the page for authentication and download the PDF file.

In addition, Clarke cited The Berkeley Electronic Press. People can fill out a form and download PDF files free. The publisher then collects data from the online form and analyzes them. If the publisher finds that people in a particular organization use its service often, the publisher can suggest that the organization subscribe to the service.

Kevin Cohn, of Atypon Systems, Inc, discussed several successful Web features. When considering adding a new feature, he said, you should address the following items: Does the new feature make it easier for people to find your content and help them find more of it? Does it entice people to use your content? Does the new feature make it easier for you to monetize your content?

Cohn said that Web-site design should reflect an awareness of how customers behave when they shop in physical bookstores. Customers first walk in the aisles, and then choose books freely and flip to check their content. That free, random, and full-text access is an advantage that physical bookstores use to attract customers. When people shop online, they display similar behaviors, and successful online bookstores use knowledge of these behaviors.

For example, to attract more customers, Amazon provides access to the table of contents of a book and several sample pages. Amazon also uses other features— such as pictures, key words, and personalized recommendations—to promote books.

Joel Hammond, of Thomson Reuters, shared his experience in developing a new Web feature. He said that creators of a successful Web feature need to understand users and appreciate different user behaviors.

Hammond presented the development of ResearcherID, a global multidisciplinary scholarly research community, as an example to explain approaches to understanding users. When he and his colleagues designed ResearcherID, they recognized the problem of name ambiguity. ResearcherID assigns a unique identifier to each author and eliminates author misidentification. Authors can describe themselves in many ways, so ResearcherID includes features that can identify a person from different perspectives. For example, it first allows researchers to identify who they are, and then lets them say where they work, what they do, and what kinds of articles they write. To help researchers to get to know colleagues, ResearcherID allows users to search the registry to find collaborators, review publication lists, and explore how research is used around the world.

Thomson Reuters also uses a program called Front-End Customer Strategy to understand and anticipate customer needs and help product developers allocate resources to serve their customers.

The take-home message of this session was the following: Before implementing any Web feature, know your users and be sure that the new feature will

  • Make your Web site more usable.
  • Add value for the end user.
  • Make content more readily discoverable.
  • Increase use.
  • Drive desired revenue.