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Mapping your end-user journeys

Louise EagleBy Louise Eagle
Category - Blog

Monday 28th November 2016

The inaugural OpenAthens customer conference took place in early ovember 2016, with 120 individuals attending from across the information community. Some of the key challenges and opportunities around the provision of access to knowledge were discussed.

This post is a digest of “Key considerations when mapping your end user experience” – a session led by Adam Snook, OpenAthens Pre-Sales Consultant, which looked at some of the issues facing librarians in connecting users with subscription resources, including:

  • The proliferation of user journeys
  • The need for libraries to prioritise support for specific workflow
  • How the OpenAthens Redirector can simplify on- and off-network access to e-resources
  • Availability of OpenAthens ‘health checks’ to maximise the benefits to your institution

The slides for Adam’s presentation can be found here.

The rise of digital resources
The use of e-resources (electronic journals, databases, e-books, and other knowledge sources) has grown exponentially over recent years – to the point where some institutions are now entirely digital in their provision of information.
As part of this transition, user journeys have proliferated in lockstep with the convenience of access that (increasingly portable) technology allows. The library is no longer the starting point for individual users, and in its place we’ve seen the rise of both general and specific academic search engines, abstracting and indexing databases, social media and email alerts, and yet more besides. This presents a significant challenge: librarians are expected to provide their user community with access to information, and yet cannot realistically support every possible user journey.

Complications in the user journey
As an example, individuals are increasingly visiting publisher sites directly from search engine results to access research articles. This means there’s a need to identify them as belonging to a subscribing institution – regardless of whether they are on an institutional network, or using their own device.
The user journey here can be complex. The user themselves needs to know to look for the ‘OpenAthens login’ prompt on a publisher page, and then to log in using either a WAYF link or an OpenAthens account. However – especially in the case of academic users – there’s a lack of consistency on publisher sites. Some will specify OpenAthens logins, others will group it under Shibboleth access, and still others will use the term “SAML login” – technical terms that users can’t be expected to understand, or to navigate through.

Easier access on- and off-network with the OpenAthens Redirector
In situations like this, the OpenAthens Redirector can help – on-network users are authenticated without the need to log in separately, and those off-network are authenticated with a single OpenAthens login that then passes their credentials through your library portal to any publisher resources they need. Of course, this means that users will need to start their journey from the library portal – but librarians need to think carefully about the specific user journeys they are equipped to support, and routes such as the example above can provide the best end-user experience in terms of friction-free access to subscribed content.

OpenAthens health checks now available
As well as supporting user journeys such as these with marketing resources for your users, OpenAthens also offers health checks for customers where our team will audit your implementation of OpenAthens, and offer advice on how you can make the most of Redirector and other OpenAthens products – contact our support team for more information.


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