Yesterday evening I went over to the library to work on transcribing some of the interviews. There must be a better way to do this out there, because it was extremely time-consuming. I have only gotten three of the seven interviews transcribed, and it has been nearly a week since I conducted the tests! The difficulty is that it's important to have what people say in response to each question as well as a meticulous record of their actions when trying to carry out the scenario (finding an article on the site, for example). However, I'm confident that when everything is transcribed it will be relatively simple to pull good information out of the spreadsheet to see where people had problems on the site, as well as the things that work.
This afternoon I'm doing data entry. I'm trying to copy down the answers to the questions that I asked my study participants as accurately as possible. It's definitely not as glamorous as conducting the usability test, but I'm sure it's going to pay off in the end.
I'm surprised at how many common themes I'm seeing. Some people say that the site looks dated, but many of them say that it looks user-friendly (even if they had trouble navigating the site). Almost everyone says that they just ignore the wall of text in the middle of the page. None of the participants knew that they had an account on the site. There are so many tiny things that can be easily improved, though, that it gives me hope that it was worthwhile conducting the study.
The first round of testing went really well. Yesterday I took a few hours off from work to go to the science library, where one of the librarians was kind enough to let me use her office. My awesome supervisor provided a free sandwich lunch to anyone who would participate in my test, and I ended up with five undergraduate students (1 freshman, two sophomores, and two seniors) and one staff member. I recorded all the sessions in Adobe Captivate so that I could focus on directing the sessions rather than taking notes by hand or on a computer. I'm so glad I learned to use that in school a few semesters ago; it was nice not to have to learn a new piece of software.
I used a script to explain the test to the participants. After that, I moved into the test itself, which consisted of four pre-test questions, three "general impressions" questions, seven task-based scenarios, and four post-test questions. The sessions took from 11-16 minutes to complete. I need to watch the recordings, but I feel like I got a significant amount of feedback about the DiscoverLibrary design. There are definitely a few easy fixes the design team could make that would help students navigate the site more easily.
My next task is to take notes on all the sessions and somehow impose order on the many, many opinions I got during the testing session. I'll put it in some sort of report to present to the librarians at the end of the semester.
Today I need to find someone to run through my usability test with me. I need to figure out roughly how long it will take to administer the test to a typical user. For the test, I'll start by reading instructions from a script, asking some pre-test questions, administering the task-based scenarios, and then asking some post-test questions. I anticipate it taking about ten minutes, but it may take longer.
I might be able to ask some of my colleagues to help me out, but I don't want to take them away from their work. Maybe I will collar someone at lunch!
I'm working on a practicum this spring with Vanderbilt University Libraries. The libraries have adopted a search and discovery tool called DiscoverLibrary, which is powered by Primo. I'm going to get a few things done by May:
- Design and carry out a study on how students, faculty, and staff use DiscoverLibrary
- Create a guide that library staff members can use when they conduct usability tests on library tools in the future
- Tweak the search algorithm in DiscoverLibrary to see how that changes search behavior in the tool (and hopefully improves things for people using the system)
- Present the results of this information to a group of Vanderbilt librarians
Whew! That's a lot of stuff to work on. So far, I have worked on my guide and have all the paperwork ready to go for my usability test, which should happen sometime next week.