Internet Resource icon: friend or foe?
The internet resource icon on WorldCat.org has been a hot topic of conversation for quite a while among our users and our user experience groups here working on worldcat.org. Originally when we put that icon on our search results and detailed records as a secondary icon, it was meant to indicate that "this item is also available online".
Much to our (and our users') dismay, we noticed the icon appearing on items that weren't actually available online...Turns out, this problem is a result of different interpretations among catalogers of what a 'version' of something actually is. So, we are working diligently on filtering our data to more accurately display the internet resource icon only when a true online version of the item exists. This change should be reflected on WorldCat.org in August or September!
But there are even more challenges with this darn little icon. The internet resource icon carries a lot of weight. Internet searchers are looking for items that they can find online, and to most of our searchers, this is the only or most visible indication we give on search results or detailed records that it is available online, even when the user is not actually authorized to view the item. Why is this? Because the internet resource icon was originally intended to just show that a 'version' of this item existed online - but it wasn't meant to indicate whether the user is authorized to view it.
We realize we have a usability challenge on our hands...
Users want to be able to tell up front what they can access online when they are searching. Unfortunately in most cases, WorldCat.org doesn’t know what users are authorized to access.
So our challenge is: would users rather see what they *might* be able to get online with the possibility of failed attempts? Or would users rather see what WorldCat.org absolutely knows they have access to online, with the possibility of missing out on other items that they are authorized to access?