Friday, August 7, 2009

New service, new reactions

I've been spending some time over the last few weeks calling up some of our bX customers and getting their reactions to the new scholarly article recommender service they've implemented for their users. These conversations are essential to me in my job as product manager, to better understand what changes we can/should make in bX, to make it the best it can be. Definitely, everyone finds bX a fascinating concept but often they are not really sure what will happen when they implement it.

While these conversations have not been terribly long, they've all managed to bring new and unique perspectives. Different comments for sure, but everyone is looking forward to the new school term starting next month (for most places) and introducing bX to their new and returning students.

In some institutions, the reactions so far have been mainly by librarians - I attribute that to the academic calendar right now. Several of these librarians have been impressed about how easy bX is to use - the recommendations simply appear and the user may click on them. "Anyone who is familiar with Amazon knows exactly what to do." This technique is observed by the librarians to be quite intuitive and useful, particularly for new users, unfamiliar with library interfaces (and in some cases what they are actually looking for!).

One library created a small feedback form specifically for bX - it appears just above their recommendation section on the SFX menu. They passed on some feedback from PhD users (researching through the summer, ugh...) which made me smile from ear to ear for the rest of the day: "this is fabulous" came from one; another wrote a bit more: "I found exactly what I wanted. I've already found even more relevant articles in 10 minutes than I've found in the last 10 months using more traditional methods of research." Wow!

Even though bX is focused on maximizing the implicit feedback of end users (through use of SFX usage statistics), you just can't beat the explicit feedback, can you!? We can't wait for the autumn, when more students can use this.

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