Prepopulate JotForm Fields via URL

We use JotForm for our library’s website. It’s fairly easy to customize, their customer service forums are fast, and they provide lots of integrations.

One feature I had been musing on was how to pre-fill a field on a form. For instance, in an email I’m promoting the patron to borrow a book for their book club. Usually they’d click the link and then have to add the book title in the form. However, with a little URL magic, you can do this bit of work for the user.

How to prepopulate fields

* Go to, login, and select your form (you have to scroll).
* On the form, enter the info you want prepopulated.
* Click on Generate URL at the top.
* On the next screen, you’ll see a custom Full URL.

If you’re just linking directly to the form

* Just copy the URL generated by step 4.
* Make sure to not send people this link as displayed above. Instead, link the text like so.

If your form is embedded on the website

* Copy only the text starting with the ? the very end.
* You’re copying something like: ?book=Twilight
* Pull up the website page which has the embedded form on it.
* Paste the text you copied to the end of the URL. It’ll look something like this:
* Make sure to not send people this link as displayed above. Instead, link the text like so.

New Insights from Weekly Events Email

I’m in charge of putting together our weekly events emails. As such, I’m interested in discovering patterns, developing hypotheses, and testing my theories. All in the name of providing a more useful experience for our patrons. Each quarter I do an analysis to look for new insights, check out the answers to my questions, and ask library stakeholders for guidance on what we should test next.

Our findings for April to June:
* Do email opens go up if we send emails to low open users on Thursdays as opposed to Friday? The six-week test showed that it doesn’t make a difference.
* Out of the two subject lines we test each week across three segments, two segments usually choose the same one.
* Opens decreased in the spring, but not as drastically as I thought.
* New subscribers’ open and click-through rates dropped drastically from winter to spring.
* Email unsubscribes and bounces decreased. The numbers are small, so it looks very impressive to say “We had a 26% decline in unsubscribes!”
* We’re gaining email subscribers thanks to the form on our website.
* People do scroll all the way to the Did You Knows. We know this thanks to the click-through rate which is comparable to items higher up in the email.

Next round I’m thinking about testing:
* Does the age category of the featured event affect unsubscribe rates? I believe the answer is yes, but am eager to see if that theory proves true.

Of course, I need to look at this from a longer perspective as well. Perhaps in December, when things usually slow down, I can compare some of my numbers loosely to the 2013-2016 numbers.

Understanding Our Patrons Presentation

For an internal presentation, I developed a slidedeck based on the months of work my colleagues and I did to better understand our patrons. I won’t share the whole slidedeck, but some images are included in this post as illustration.

The first part dealt with departments categorizing their users into groups which share similar characteristics. They answered some questions about what users want, how they connect with us, and how we could do better by them. The second part was for me to crunch some data. The third involved surveying patrons guerilla-style. I’m still working on that last part.

We have some travelers!

Image is from a fascinating site. Click the image to see what I mean.

Do you know about this Google feature?

Hospital UX

It was discovered about six weeks ago that I needed a minor operation. I’d be gloriously under general anesthesia during the procedure — the initial test that found the abnormality had been extraordinarily painful, so it was a welcome relief that I’d be asleep for the actual surgery. The only other surgery I’ve had was for removal of my wisdom teeth.

Previous Surgery
They put me in a chair, put a gas mask on me, and asked me to count backward from ten. I believe I made it to six. Later, I woke up for a second when I was placed in a wheelchair. I had no bodily control, so I collapsed forward. I passed out again as they caught me. Then I woke up two hours later in the car. Blood had filled my stomach. My dad had to practically carry me up our steps — three hours after we left the surgery. I spent the rest of the day groggy and nauseous.

This time, I was whisked into a pre-op room. The nurse and every person I interacted with repeatedly asked me what procedure I was having. They had me verify my info multiple times. Then I was left with a purple gown, a stripped robe, socks, a heated blanket, two bags for my belongings, and a bright green eyeglasses case. It took some work to get dressed by myself, but I managed to do it. I felt a bit like a Japanese warlord with the big robe loosely wrapped around me! I realized that my gown had a weird outlet in it. This was so that a hot air hose could be connected to it to blow warm air directly against my skin if needed.

When the nurse came back, she inserted the IV while I looked steadfastly in the opposite direction. My spouse was then brought in. The IV was just water and electrolytes, but as I sat there, pressure began to build up in my head and then ran past my ears to my cheeks. I couldn’t hear and my head began to bob. I thought I was going to vomit. The nurse scrambled to recline my chair, offered me a wet towel, and helped loosen the robe and gown so I wouldn’t overheat. After a few minutes, the pressure went away. I looked up to find my spouse pushed back in a corner watching me wide-eyed and a little pale himself. The nurse remarked that the color had come back into my lips. I still felt a little funny, but I could hold my head up again.

After that, I was too nervous to really talk. I handed the nurse my notarized living will to add to my digital records. Then while we sat and waited, I played Pokemon Go and Fire Emblem Heroes on my phone. The anesthesiologist then came in. She told me that I’d be intubated too, so I needed to sign off on that. Fortunately, I had done some last minute blog readings the night before, so I had read what to expect. I put my phone away then and just stared at my spouse in terror.

Time to Go
Two nurses came to walk me to surgery. I took a pit stop and awkwardly hung my IV on a wall hook. A nurse had to take back over holding the IV bag while we finished the walk to surgery. Once there, the doctor and a nurse worked together to remove the striped gown. I tried to hold the purple gown shut while stepping up onto the stool to get onto the bed. They had me put my arms out on these small sliding tables on either side. My head was secured in a…pillow-cup thing. It was comfy. A blood pressure cuff was put on my left arm. At my feet, it felt like more blood pressure cuffs were added to my ankles. The doctor, while holding my hand, told me that it was a like a foot massage. A blanket was put over me. Then a nurse opened up a binder and began to read aloud what I was there for. I looked down towards my feet again.


I woke from a heavy dream which disappeared as soon as I opened my eyes. My head lulled on my left shoulder. Across the hallway, a clock read 9:12 a.m. Now that I think about it, did they put my glasses back on me? I’m near-sighted so I can’t see that far on my own. A nurse was sitting next to me. After a few minutes, she noticed I was moving my head around. She asked me some questions about my well-being. My throat was sore and dry, so this was a little difficult. They then called my spouse by his cellphone. When he arrived, he took the nurse’s seat. She then went and brought me a delicious buttered English muffin and water. I was starving, so I gulped it down.

They wouldn’t release me till my blood pressure came back up. It was low. She adjusted my IV, made me drink some more water, and wait a bit longer. Slowly it came back up. She then took my IV out. When she left, my spouse carefully helped me change back into my clothes. I wasn’t in much pain. A lady then pushed me down in a wheelchair while my spouse got the car.

What stands out to me is that everyone was so nice and considerate. My prior experience as illustrated at the beginning was that the orthodontist’s office didn’t even care that I hadn’t woken up. I’m going to attribute how sick I got last time to potentially having had too big of a dose of anesthesia and swallowing a belly full of blood. Today I’m feeling a little disorientated if I walk around too much. Sitting up and writing this has been a little hard as my head keeps wanting to lean sideways. But now I have this written up for you!

Planning Out UX

An Infopeople student emailed me today saying that they’re starting up a UX team (yay!). They wanted to know how do you get a handle on all this? How do you start? How do you hold meetings?

Here’s what we do at work:

Each of us has our specialization and own regularly scheduled work that has to be done (for me, this is teaching and publicity)

We have a weekly standing meeting on Mondays for 15 minutes to an hour where we give a progress report for the past week and what we’re working on this week.

Once a month we have a big meeting where we do long-term project planning. Right now we’re consumed with the website, so our meetings focus on that. In addition, we’re also having a meeting every other month on a particular aspect of the website. Content strategy is next!

Shorter term, we do very informal interviews/chats with staff and patrons to pick up on what’s going right/wrong. If it’s something we can fix immediately, we discuss it in our Slack channel. Otherwise, it goes into our Help Desk ticket system to be addressed.

Each of us then picks up pet projects along the way. Since I work on publicity, I’ll meet with staff on some small project. Right now, I’m developing the automated welcome email which will be sent out via MailChimp. The public services assistant director is the one I’m bouncing this off on. My colleague, the Systems Administrator, is doing API work so we can get Polaris users to be sent to MailChimp so they’ll receive that email. From there, we’ll do a two-month test to see what patrons think about it/do.

My recommendation on how to get started:

First go around and interview staff. You don’t have to talk to every single person, but get at least two from each department. Preferably a mix of new people (new eyes) and old (long-term experience). Be careful about people’s biases which may not have any grounds in reality. You’ll also need to be careful about describing what you’re up to. For my website interviews, I made it clear that I wouldn’t be sharing the identities of who commented on what. I have it in my Google spreadsheet, but I’ve locked that column so only I can see it.

Then go through the comments and start separating the rubbish, things to pursue further, and actionable items you can do quickly. My boss is a big fan of uh… small investment, but big impact (can’t recall the business jargon). For example, putting new desktop wallpapers on the computers vs. designing a complete signage overhaul.

Once you have an idea about what you’re looking at (internal stuff tends to be easier to manage in some ways. You don’t have to chase patrons), you can start making plans on what to tackle first.

First UX Project: Flowchart and Personas

In my final year of college, I took an interactive design class. As part of the deliverables, I had to create a workflow, personas, storyboards, UI, and wireframes. I worked at a major retail store at the time of this class and wanted to design a better way to wire money. A large chunk of time was spent every day watching people slowly fill out the wire transfer forms. This project was thus designed to speed up that process.

Flowchart of actions



Persona 1.5

Persona 2.5

LibUX: Web App vs. Native App

Michael’s description:

When–if ever–should a library opt to build a native app? What are the inherent social, development, and financial implications of choosing one over the other. Is a web app literally a more ethical decision for a tax/tuition-driven institution?


Our special guest this time was Brian Pichman (@bpichman) who joined us via his smartphone to discuss the topic.

We used Boopsie as our de facto native app vendor that libraries use, but our comments are meant for library app vendors in general. Our opinions are our own and do not reflect our libraries.

LibUX: Hamburger Icon

Michael and I are starting to get a real feel for conducting these video/podcasts! Today we kept it under 30 minutes and chatted about copyright, legalese, the Innovation/Polaris acquisition, WordPress + PowerPac, mobile apps, hamburger menus, Heartbleed bug, the Personal Digital Archiving & Radical Archivists conferences, and more!

Big announcement: Michael put in the back breaking work to build the libux website which is available on Github.

UX Review of U.S. Copyright Form

This story comes from a patron who needed some assistance with her U.S. Copyright Form.

On the outside, the U.S. Copyright Forms look easy enough. I printed out a copy of the Visual Arts form and read it before my meeting. Okay, this is some basic metadata fields (e.g. author, contributor, creation date, published date, etc.). My patron and I began in earnest to fill out the form. The troublespots:

A collection is very vague regarding visual arts. A group of poems makes sense. But what about artwork whose central focus is that the have the same creator? The website itself is unclear on what to do in this context. Other sites did not provide a reasonable explanation.

Input of multiple submissions is an ineffective use of time. For each entry, you have to add a new item, then go in and type up the information. Then save. Then go back to the main screen. Repeat. To be more user friendly, the submitter should only be on one screen the whole time with fields you can just add as needed. Doing it the other way breaks up the workflow which adds unnecessary time and frustration.

Instructions per page are sometimes vague. We’d have to go on a wild goose chase of looking up information in a separate screen to move forward.

The design does not feel trustworthy. Anyone can whip up a shiny WordPress website in a few minutes that impresses (especially spammers). It’d be nice if an official government agency’s website felt like an official website. The appearance of a website influenences users on how much they can trust you.

The language is too retail-centric. I apologize for not having access at the moment to the log-in version, but I believe the terms used was “carts.” As a first-time visitor of the site, I was confused. I only have an online cart if I’m creating something, right? Why would my copyright submission, the me-to-company work go into a cart?

Next stop after typing titles is confusing. Yes, on the left, is a little three cell table which in yellow highlights that you are on the Pay step. However, the user is so focused on the center screen, they are effectively dumped on a page which does not indicate what the next step is.

Image submission is tiresome. This is a repeat of the submitting multiple titles from above point. Why in the age of sweet drag-and-drop image uploaders, do you have to go in one at a time to upload your files? More than that, you have to then retype the name of the file next to the submission. On one hand I can understand this since not everyone knows how to title files in a way that is easy to read later. But it still felt like a lot of work to type out your file name all over again.

On the plus side:

You get a $30 discount by submitting your claim online.