I recently chatted with NoveList Product Manager Jenny Schafer about the thought process and planning that goes into each new product and feature. Spoiler alert: Many of you may have played a role in helping to shape the tools that help you provide good customer service when working with readers. I also asked for a few hints of what’s just around the corner.
Jenny, I know your team starts planning new features long before the launch date. Where do your ideas come from?
They come from many places. My team and I spend much of our time talking directly to customers and staff in public libraries to understand their wants, needs, and pain points. We learn all that we can from other NoveList teams that are speaking with customers, too, and we work to keep up with blogs, reports, and market research that’s relevant to the library staff that our products serve.
We also look at usage metrics to get a sense of what’s important for our customers. For example, usage of digital channels spiked during the pandemic because libraries had to use them to communicate with patrons who couldn't come to the library or, later, weren’t yet comfortable returning. In response, we developed a new email editor for LibraryAware that made it easier to create eye-catching, effective emails. And made the book rivers and carousel feature in LibraryAware mobile-responsive, among other product updates.
How do you decide which ideas to move forward?
We look for ideas that will meet our customers’ present or future needs, and that can be built quickly.
What trends or advancements are you seeing in product design?
For years, there was a big emphasis on mobile-friendly design, and while that’s still important, I’m seeing a shift toward design that works for people instead of devices. Accessibility has rightly become a primary consideration, and I’m seeing products account for the needs of different types of users. For example, imagine you’re visiting a website that sells coffee. If you’ve never visited that site before, you might need a different experience than someone who comes to the site regularly, has set up an account, and gets coffee auto-shipped. Products are being created to help all kinds of customers.
What do people seem to love most about NoveList products?
They love that NoveList’s products come from people who know and love libraries. For example, our recently redesigned catalog enrichment, NoveList Select, was developed with customer feedback from start to finish. We know that our customers want their readers to check out books or put something on hold when they visit the catalog, so Select has big, beautiful jacket images and several types of reading suggestions at every patron’s fingertips. You can take a look at the recent updates we’ve released in NoveList Select here.
What has your team been working on recently?
Coming soon in LibraryAware, users will be able to easily add multiple book or AV records to a library’s e-blast or newsletter. This new feature will save library staff a whole lot of time and will make it easier than ever for libraries to promote their collection and drive circulation. Titles are automatically linked to the library’s catalog, so subscribers will be able to simply click the cover and place the item on hold.
We’re also working on an updated interface for NoveList that’s easier to navigate so readers can get to expert reading recommendations right away and is overall more visually appealing. We have other behind-the-scenes work underway, all with a focus on making it easier for our customers to deliver great customer service to their library community.
I’m excited about where our products are headed. Early concepts are being tested by customers, and we value their input. Few things are more fulfilling than knowing we’re making the work of the libraries we love a bit easier.
Kathy Lussier is the Director of Engagement & Marketing. She is currently listening to Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren.
Jenny Schafer is the Manager of Product Management. She is currently reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and Creative Confidence by David Kelley and Tom Kelley.