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NC State University Libraries Search Usability Testing. January 2010 ALA Midwinter Conference Josh Boyer & Susan Teague Rector . Who We Are. Susan Teague Rector Web Design Project Librarian Twitter: seteague. Josh Boyer

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Nc state university libraries search usability testing
NC State University Libraries Search Usability Testing

January 2010

ALA Midwinter Conference

Josh Boyer & Susan Teague Rector


Who we are
Who We Are

  • Susan Teague Rector

  • Web Design Project Librarian

  • Twitter: seteague

  • Josh Boyer

  • Associate Head, Distance Learningand Research and Information Services


Today s agenda
Today’s Agenda

  • Background

  • Usability Test Methodology

  • Testing Results

  • Implementation of Search

  • Search Usage

  • Next Steps


Background
Background

  • Website Redesign January – August 2010 whose main goal of site design was to emphasize and streamline search across the site

  • Team of 9 librarians appointed to look at the website’s search environment

  • Building materials:

    • Endeca-based catalog interface

    • Summon

    • Journal Titles list

    • site search

    • “QuickSearch”





Research questions
Research Questions

  • How would users interact with a tabbed search interface?

  • Would users choose to scope their searches by preselecting a tab before beginning a search or would they conduct all searches in the default “all” tab?

  • How successful would users be in selecting the correct tab for the task?



2 search prototypes
2 Search Prototypes

Model 1

Tabbed Search Results

Model 2

Non-Tabbed Search Results


Our methodology
Our Methodology

  • “Guerrilla” usability testing in the field

  • Participants recruited in the lobby of DH Hill Library

  • Testing took place over a 3 hour period

  • 28 undergraduates, graduates and library staff, participated in a round of guerrilla usability testing for 2 proposed search models

  • Each participant was asked to complete 2 tasks using one of the search models; many participants volunteered to answer more than 2 questions


Who were the participants
Who Were the Participants?

  • 22 Undergraduates

  • 3 Graduates

  • 2 Library Staff Members

  • 1 Non-Traditional Student

  • Science/Engineering:

    • Aerospace Engineering

    • Animal Science/Biology

    • Biology

    • Biomedical Engineering

    • Chemistry

    • Civil Engineering

    • Computer Science

    • Electrical Engineering

    • Food Science

    • Human Biology/Nutritional Science

    • Integrated Management & Systems

    • Meteorology

    • Textiles Engineering

Represented:

  • Humanities:

    • English/Creative Writing

    • History

    • Psychology

  • Business:

    • Business

    • Business Administration

  • 14 participants performed 46 tasks using Model 1

  • 14 participants performed 38 tasks using Model 2


Observations
Observations

  • In both search models, in well over half the tasks, participants pre-selected a search tab before beginning their search.


Observations1
Observations

  • Across both search models, in 45 of 60 tasks in which users selected a tab, they selected the appropriate tab for that task.


Observations2
Observations

  • In both models, users rarely switched silos in the search results once in a silo. Users tended to stay in the same silo and refine searches within those silos.




Other issues
Other Issues

  • Even if users executed a successful search, they often did not scroll down far enough in the search results to find the answer

  • Almost all participants only scanned the first page of search results for a quick answer to the task

  • Spelling was problematic




Use of “All” tab (QuickSearch)

8.3%

36.4%

43.8%

2.4%



Next steps
Next Steps

  • Conduct more usability testing with students.

  • Interview faculty about their research and how they view our new site.


Questions
Questions?

  • Thank you!

  • Contact us:

    • [email protected]

    • [email protected]


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