Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2017


In a practical and user-centered model for online archival description, what navigational features are effective, efficient, and user-valued components for an academic archives’ online finding aid? Using Princeton University’s finding aid website as a prototype, this research study collected quantitative as well as qualitative data from 10 relatively inexperienced online finding aid users as they interacted with and reacted to the finding aid interface. Major navigational difficulties experienced by users included ambiguous and/or unintuitive labeling, unclear relationships between tabs, and insufficient visual cues for certain navigational features. In contrast, user-valued navigational aids included centralized hyperlinked content, nested and hierarchical content tabs, and a collection-level search bar. The article concludes with 10 pragmatic guidelines for archival professionals trying to solve the ongoing puzzle of online finding aid usability.

Publication Title

The American Archivist