The Johnson County Library is commited to developing patron-friendly interfaces and experiences through extensive usability testing. Below are some of the studies and projects we are working on or have completed along with project metholodogy, recording documents and result reports. Questions? Want to chat about usability or share your own public library study results? Please contact Michelle Beesley, Web Content Manager.
In May, 2010, the Web Content Team posted an online survey for teens to give us feedback on our JoCoTeenScene website. This was followed in August, 2010 with a paper prototyping study with another group of teens to get feedback on a proposed newteen library website, which would be a pilot for the eventual redesign of the entire Johnson County Library website (including JoCoTeenScene and JoCoKids). Paper prototyping is when paper mock-ups of Web pages are used for usability testing, rather than actual Web pages. Teens from Central's YAAC and Anime Club and some teen volunteers were given paper mock-ups of the proposed redesign and presented with common library website tasks. The subjects were asked how they would complete thetasks, and the usability of the page was judged by the success of the subjects. The teens were also asked for their overall opinions of the page and asked what they expected to find on a teen library website.
Full report (PDF)
A new Web catalog is a big change for Library patrons. Our new catalog that went live to the public on Dec. 1, 2010, is a hosted solution that provides few customization options and was still relatively new. Our research showed the interface superior other catalog options, but we wanted to confirm this with patrons. Our goals were to gather feedback to help with training staff about the new catalog and gather feedback to share with the catalog vendor. Many of the improvements that we suggested as a result of this study were later implemented as part of regular upgrades.
Study objective:To gather feedback on a new website navigation developed in anticipation of the new Web catalog. This updated navigation will provide a more seamless experience for website users as they move from the Library website to the Web catalog, offering patrons immediate access to Web catalog functions from the Library website.
Findings summary:Subjects were overwhelmingly positive about the proposed changes to the navigation and are excited about the new features that will be available with the new Web catalog. Currently, the Library website has two top navigation elements. The proposed new navigation combines these and adds new Web catalog and My Account options.
Our 6 by 6 website (or sub-site) is launching on Sept. 14. We ran paper prototypes (Phase 1) and usability studies. (Phase 2) Check out the Phase 2 Interface study results (PDF).
On June 16, 2009 the Web Content Team coordinated with Circulation Services and staff at the Shawnee Neighborhood Library to test a new library card application form--the form is still paper at this point (although there is a PDF version of it online), but the testing was quite beneficial in providing evidence that the hard work and thought that went into the form would pay off and assuring staff that patrons would in fact have a much easier time with the new form. In a more complete study we would have done a baseline study with the old form, but we wanted to get some quick results to show that the new form would work, and we were not worried about proving it was better than the old form.
For the test, staff gave the new form to patrons needing new cards. They recorded the reactions and ease of use on a simple recording doc (PDF). The results were quite successful in that 10 out of 10 patrons were able to complete the form without needing to ask additional questions (a feat not normal with the old form as we know from past experience). The quick results were reported to staff (PDF).
On April 25, 2009 the Web Content Team completed usability studies on the JoCoKids website with 11 children, ages 6-11. Read the report and study recommendations (PDF).
In 2008, we made further refinements to the home page features after hiring a new interface designer, Dale Jarrett. We kept the tiles, but weighted them differently while also developing new formatting and image standards to have a consistent across all events, news and services featured on the Library's home page. The new design also move the catalog log-in to the home page and modified how "search" displayed in the header across the site. We also tested the plans to fold the former JoCoHealth website back into the main Library's website. The tests were very successful, but due to the holidays and other projects, a full report was not completed. The testing document is available here (PDF) and the "final" layout of the Library's Web page is currently live.
After the new Library site was launched on August 15, 2007, almost 90% of patrons who responded to our online survey were very happy with the new design or at least felt that new site was easier to use. However, a handful of patrons commented that they didn’t like the rotating feature on the front page. So, in December of 2007, we tested out another home page option that still met our requirements. Since the issue was one of preference and subjectivity rather than true usability and functionality, we "tested" with a vote and a home page feature encouraging patrons to vote for their favorite front page layout.
What went into building the new JoCoLibrary website? Since more than 3.5 million people visit the Library's website annually, we didn't take the process lightly. We started the process in 2006 with focus groups of public service staff helping us to create a plan for the new Web World. After buying and installing a new content management system, we built two websites (JoCoBusiness and JoCoTeenScene) as pilot sites to try out the new system. In April, we began testing labels and designs for the new website. Months and months of patron testing, feedback collection, changes and more testing ensued. Below is a brief timeline of the usability process, documents used for the studies, and reports of patron feedback as we tested, changed, and retested the new site.
April 2007Conduct card sorts to determine labels and main categories for the new JoCoLibrary site (View Card Sort Results - Word Doc)Paper prototype the new JoCoLibrary Web design (View sample prototype script -Word Doc)Revise design plans to incorporate study results
May 2007Design draft of JoCoLibrary interface Paper prototype "Research" subsitePaper prototype "Find a Good Book" subsiteRevise design plans to incorporate study results
June 2007Run full usability studies on new JoCoLibrary (View sample core tasks and questions - Word Doc) (View sample recording document - Word Doc)Revise design to incorporate study results (View initial report 2004 vs 2007 usability studies)
July 2007Build content in the new JoCoLibrary siteSoft launch of JoCoLibrary and ask for patron and staff feedback via online surveysRun phase 2 usability studies on JoCoLibrary Revise design to incorporate study results (View trends report based on phase 1 and 2 studies)
August 2007Review feedback and revise interface based on feedback Launch JoCoLibrary (August 15, 2007)
Full report of the usability studies, patron survey results and two-year trends 2005-2007 (PDF)
Handout outlining Usability Study Techniques (doc)
Highly recommended resources:
Krug, Steve. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition (2005)
Nielsen, Jakob. http://www.useit.com/
Nielsen Norman Group. Paper Prototyping: A How-To Training Video (on DVD) Available at: http://www.nngroup.com/reports/prototyping/
Rosenfeld, Louis and Peter Morville. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites (2006)
Synder, Carolyn. Paper Prototyping: The Fast and Easy Way to Design and Refine User Interfaces (2003)
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Last modified: Wednesday, August 01, 2007
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