Room Reservation System Usability Testing

In September 2015, the NCSU Libraries moved forward with a migration to a new room reservation system, EMS. This migration included the creation of a new interface for library users. Usability testing was conducted between Oct. 1 and Oct. 21, 2015. Two prototypes were tested representing the desktop view and mobile view of the new Room Reservation Interface for EMS.


Research Questions

Is a user able to:

  1. understand the elements and labels in the user interface?

  2. successfully book a room?

  3. successfully edit a booking?

  4. feel confident that a booking or modification is confirmed?

What we found

Our test found that users were able to complete all of the above required activities with a high average success rate per task in the Desktop interface (~80% and ~75% respectively per session) and a slightly higher success rate per task in the Mobile interface (~100% and ~92% respectively per the Live site and the Prototype). It should be noted that these summary statistics are biased by the subjectivity of the success metric.

Recommendations and Changes

Based on testing, we recommended that the original prototypes be improved in the following ways. These changes were made to the prototype by the Web Team and submitted to IT for development.

  1. Reinforce users’ understanding

    a. of where they are "in time" on the grid display

    b. that they have successfully made a reservation

    c. of which building and room they are reserving

  2. Be consistent with native systems that students use

    a. make date/time navigation more consistent with Google Calendar

    b. add ability to identify study group members using campus email within the room reservation system [this change will be considered at a later date]

  3. Represent room information in ways that students recognize and value

    a. use labeling preferences expressed by test participants

  4. Meaningful aesthetic and minimalist design based on user feedback, reflected in

    a. the color scheme of the grid lines and buttons

    b. consistency of color across the calendar, the time grid, and the My Reservations button for all reservations made

    c. an improved indicator line that reflects where the user is in time

How We Did It

We used two parallel testing protocols; one for desktop and one for mobile. Desktop sessions occurred over three days and involved 14 participants. Mobile testing took place over four days on two interfaces and involved a total of 16 participants. We asked each participant to perform 3-4 tasks and answer semi-structured interview questions.

Participant Breakdown

Total number of participants: 26