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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
next steps
Next Steps
  • Conduct more usability testing with students.
  • Interview faculty about their research and how they view our new site.
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