Saturday, February 4, 2012

Reading Report 3 – “Usability testing for web redesign: a UCLA case study”

Reading Report 3 – “Usability testing for web redesign: a UCLA case study”

Citation: Dominique Turnbow, Kris Kasianovitz, Lise Snyder, David Gilbert, David Yamamoto, (2005) "Usability testing for web redesign: a UCLA case study", OCLC Systems & Services, Vol. 21 Iss: 3, pp.226 - 234


Keywords: usability testing, library web design, card-sorting, surveys, think-aloud, structured analysis

Summary and Arguments made in the article:
This article describes the process and usability testing that was done to redesign the UCLA Library website. The original website had many issues that were identified by users and also employees of the libraries. Some of the issues included:
  • Different graphics and layout on different departments’ websites
  • Inconsistent nomenclature and heavy use of library jargon, rather than terms that the users would actually use
Usability Testing Methodology Employed
  • Structured analysis – an inventory of all the different library pages were taken and entered into a spreadsheet. This allowed for easy comparison of the different pages.
  • Surveys – there was an online survey created. Anyone who completed the survey was entered into a $250 draw. They had 300 responses, but found that since the survey was not well-designed, most of the information was not useful. The most useful information came from the open-response questions.
  • Second survey – a second survey was done to investigate the terms that should be used on the library website. This survey was done on paper and distributed evenly at the different library locations in order to ensure that the responses didn’t all come from the same group of users.
  • Card-sort protocol – this was done to decide how to organize the website categories before thinking about the actual design. From the structured analysis the team came up with 76 “essential links.” These links were put on cards and users were asked to organize the cards into meaningful groups and name the groups. UCLA used 40 participants in the card sort, although research suggests 15-20 or 30 is the ideal number. To recruit users, they offered gift bags. It took two weeks to find enough participants. Users were given one hour to sort the 76 cards. During the initial tests, they found that users used a wide variety of category titles; therefore, they needed to standardize the terms. To do that, they did a second card sort protocol.
  • Think aloud protocol – from the previous stages enough info was gathered to build a prototype website. UCLA decided to use ten participants in the think-aloud, even though research suggests that five users is enough. They used more than one participant from each user group, for example undergraduate students and graduate students. Users were given a list of tasks to complete on the website. Two facilitators were used, “one read the questions and interacted with the participant while the other recorded the participant’s actions, including: the path taken to find the answer; anything said while navigating the site; and any observations of the participant’s behavior” (p. 232). After the task, users were asked, “their general impression of the site, suggestions for the designer, or any other comments about the website. Finally, there was a brief survey about the participant’s previous use and knowledge of the library and the library’s website” (p. 232). No major changes were made to the site based on the think-aloud.
Following the think-aloud usability testing, the full website was developed. A logo was designed and a standardized page template was created to be used on all pages. Once the site was created, the team solicited feedback through emails to faculty, comments through a link on the new page, and library staff feedback sessions (p. 234). For any revision made to the site, a think-aloud protocol will be used.

References: 3, (2000-2004)

Key Ideas and their relation to our project:
  • Surveys need to be well-made in order for them to provide useful information. Based on this Case Study, the open-ended questions provide more valuable data than selected responses.
  • It may take a while to find participants for testing; therefore, we need to keep this in mind when planning our timeline for prototypes
  • Card-sorting could be used to help with categories or set names
  • Use a variety of users for the think-aloud. Make sure not all users are of the same type
  • Give users a list of specific tasks to complete while doing usability testing. For example, we could ask them to find a specific slide, find slides for a specific location, etc.


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