Giving to the Libraries Web Site User Study (2008) | User Studies


To help guide the design process for a new "Giving to the Libraries" website, a user study was conducted in Fall, 2008. Five participants (all Friends of the Library (FOL) members, parents of university students, or alumni) participated individually, each in a 1-hour session. Sessions were conducted in the NCSU Libraries' Usability Research Lab. Recordings of each session include audio, video, and screencasts. During each session, the participant:

  1. completed a usability test consisting of 5 multi-part tasks
  2. performed a card sort exercise
  3. responded to a set of prompts for reactions to comparison giving-related sites

The study components were designed to highlight problems with the existing content and navigation, get user feedback on grouping and labeling content and get user reactions to a variety of approapches to giving site design, respectively.

Team and Partners

  • Angie Ballard, Study manager, facilitator
  • Daniel Lucas, Observer
  • Jim Ruth, Observer

Technical Details

Recordings were made in the NCSU Libraries Usability Research Lab using Morae usability testing software.


Overall goals of the site redesign were to integrate the FOL and "Support the Libraries" content on the Libraries' existing website into a single integrated site, with a distinct visual design, that would appeal to donors at all levels and make online giving easy and comfortable. Usability testing demonstrated that users did not see relationships between areas that content owners assumed to be evident. Other findings included:

  • Linked promotional images do not work as navigation
  • The site was too text heavy
  • Too much information was buried in forms
  • These users do not search, neither initially nor as a backup strategy

Card sort results demonstrated that development jargon was a problem on the existing site. Users tended to group giving options into categories by level of donations and/or by whether or not they perceived the giving option to require a "one-time" gift or a an ongoing commitment. Users also indicated that they wanted straightforward language in labels.

In their reactions to other giving site designs, participants did not, as a group, strongly prefer any of the designs displayed in the exercise, but participants comments as they compared site designs included:

  • Limit scrolling
  • Limit text
  • Keep navigation lists short and the language direct
  • Use large images of students using library spaces (show faces in photographs)
  • Use large pictures
  • Use plenty of open space around content

Project Links

Giving to the Libraries website

Reports and Presentations


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