In the spring of 2006, a usability test was conducted on the redesigned NCSU Libraries website to determine how well the website helps users (especially undergraduates) find works in the catalog; articles in databases; materials in the Special Collections Research Center; authoritative subject materials selected by librarians; and general information about the Libraries. Seven undergraduates were given a set of 17 tasks to complete using the Libraries' website.
Ultimately, the test showed that the website in general and the home page in particular are working well to guide users to general information. Users are also finding collection search tools much more easily and using them more appropriately than they were on the previous site. The Endeca catalog interface and the Quick Search tools proved to be usable and effective. The most serious problems were the website's ineffectiveness at helping users find newspaper articles, at helping them understand and use the Journals page results, and at helping them find information about where to park at the Textiles Library.
Team and Partners
- Amanda French -- arranged, conducted, and analyzed usability tests
- Tito Sierra -- helped write the test, supported usability lab
- NCSU Libraries Web Strategies Committee
Recordings were made in the NCSU Libraries Usability Research Lab using Morae usability testing software.
- Release Form that participants signed (MS Word)
- Script read to participants before the usability test (MS Word)
- Tasks that participants attempted to complete during the test (MS Word)
- Spreadsheets of all usability test data, including users' time per task and task success rates (MS Excel)
- Report discussing the website's performance for each type of task and each individual task, with suggested changes (MS Word)
- All user paths for each task (MS Word)
Note that all users in the recordings signed a release form that included the following language:
Recordings made during this study will be used for research and development. Therefore, I understand that my work during the test will be recorded and viewed by the staff of the NCSU Libraries. I further understand that the NCSU Libraries may wish to use segments of these recordings to illustrate presentations offered to professional audiences. I give my consent to the NCSU Libraries to use my recorded image and voice for these purposes, with the provision that my last name will not be associated with the recordings and that these recordings will not be released to any broadcast or publication media.
Last updated: October 2009