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I have two “My Account” sections of the same website. Our’s is a library website, and has an integrated search tool. The search tool is a vended solution, and has the ability for the user to log in and access account information, set personal settings, etc. The front-end UI for the search tool has been customized to look and feel like the library’s website. When the user performs a search from the library website, the results open up into a new page that looks a lot like the library template, but is actually a disparate system. The library website is react-based. The search tool is built with Angular.

This has created a somewhat troubling user experience. If you log into the library website, you are presented with “My Account” options. Then, perform a search, and now you are presented as logged out, with a whole new set of “My Account” options after you log back in.

I’ve been tasked to present options as potential solutions for this troubling user experience, and thought I would go through it here, with the community, for suggestions. If someone has tackled a similar UX issue, how was it handled?

Thanks in advance for your time!

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  • Rename the search tool's "My account" to "Search settings"? – Ángel Sep 1 '20 at 1:13
  • I like this idea. However, options with the search settings are very much "account" orientated. You can requests reserves, place items on hold, etc. – Paul Sep 1 '20 at 13:10
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This seems to be an issue with how login is handled across both the systems, rather than a UI issue. If your application cannot share login status and credentials with the third party tool, then this problem will persist.

One workaround is to retrieve the search results from the 3rd party search application, and display that within your react library application. Since the search application is built on angular, I assume that it receives search results in json via an API call. Such an API call can also be integrated into your react library application.

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  • It's more than simply passing credentials and displaying results tho. Even if there was only one login there still is the problem of have two "My Accounts"; the library website has one set of menu options and the search tool has another. – Paul Sep 1 '20 at 12:50
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Somehow library systems seem to be plagued with the same issues. The experience I have with my public library isn't as bad as yours - they have a system for searching books in the catalogue & managing accounts, however, when the book is borrowed electronically, I am brought to a completely different application to download and read the eBook. The experience as a first time user was confusing and my wife had to guide me through on how to use the 2 applications and manage my account across the apps.

After studying this situation, I have some experiences and suggestion to share for your case.

  1. It's fine to have 2 separate systems but you need to know how these 2 systems work with each other. In my case, one was used for borrowing books while the other was used to read books. In your case, one is used for searching for books, while the other is used for managing the accounts and (presumably) containing the books. We need to understand how the process flows from one account to the other.
  2. It may be easier to make the applications look entirely different. In my case, it helped me to identify which part of the process I was at, i.e. I signed up 2 accounts, one for the library membership and the other for reading eBooks. Having different applications make me aware of where to go depending on which part of the process I am in.
  3. Take care of first time users. Dual accounts systems do exist - at least we know that your library system and the one I am using make use of dual accounts. The sign up process and walkthrough is very important, I had my wife to help me figure out that a second application (and account) is needed but not every user will have the same help as I did. For her, she figured it out herself but it took her some time to do so. So to improve the UX in your case, you have to be sure that the first time users are taken care of in terms of the signing up and walkthrough process to use the system. Documentation for the applications alone would not be sufficient.

Hope the sharing of my experience helps!

See the library app here and the eBooks app here.

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