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The small drop down icon is (hopefully) irrelevant, as the drop down behavior happens automatically when patrons click in the search box. In the usability tests, 5 of 7 students who used the search box also used a limiter on their search. In usability tests with the old, non-automatic dropdown, zero people used a limiter.
The problem we've seen over and over again is that people will ALMOST NEVER use a drop down unless they really have to (this includes the current "Research By Subject" drop down on the home page, by the way). But by having the choices drop down automatically, we've seen vastly increased use of the limiters.
If you click in the search box and DON'T automatically see the drop down, please let me know what version of what browser you're using!
The question mark was added because of feedback from the interviews last summer. Unfortunately, no one actually clicked on it in the usability tests, but I don't think that means that it will never be useful. I'll test it more completely on other browsers and make sure it shows up all the time. I'm not sure if we've done much testing on the newest version of Internet Explorer, and that's where problems tend to occur the most.
As far as the new links above the search box, this was also an addition based on user feedback. But once again, users didn't actually click on them in the usability tests. My impression was that people are already used to using the right-side menu for Databases and Course Reserves. I believe having them in the search box area will help brand new users, though.
Thank you for your feedback, and let me know if you want to get together to look at any of this!