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Public Library Usability Study

We thought that it might be interesting to release one of our usability studies with public library end users. This one is available for download from our website as a PDF.

Executive Summary

In terms of finding the best sources for information, the library is an
indispensable aid. In terms of meeting users virtually in a manner in which
the Internet has by default trained them on how to behave and what to
expect in their interactions, there is room for improvement.
The SirsiDynix EPS/Rooms product was designed to assist libraries in
reaching their communities in the era of the nearly ubiquitous Google
search. In a time where users want information and are accustomed to
getting it within a few seconds, driving to a library for a book may not
even be on the radar. Thus, the need to reach out to them in a way in
which they are comfortable and to show them that there are far more
sources to utilize than just the open Web becomes the goal. For the
current library user as well as the prospective ones, streamlining their
access to resources and giving them an experience that takes their library
interaction to the next level becomes the goal.
In an effort to measure our success towards this goal, we have conducted
an initial usability study of the product.
The purpose and objective of the SirsiDynix Corporation usability testing
project was to observe and evaluate the user experience as it related to
the navigation, information architecture, design, layout, structure, and
content presentation across the newly designed and integrated SirsiDynix
EPS/Rooms Web site product. Testing was conducted at the Madison
branch of the Huntsville Public Library in Huntsville, Alabama. Forty-nine
participants were tested.
After completing a background questionnaire, participants were given
a task list of eight questions to answer using the Rooms/EPS Web site.
Each participant was observed by a member of the Usability Team. While
completing the eight questions, each participant was asked to employ the
“think-aloud” method, concurrently, and verbalize his/her thoughts for
the observer. Upon completion of the task list, the participants were then
asked to complete a satisfaction survey rating his/her level of satisfaction
on nine aspects of the Rooms/EPS application.
Participants were very positive with their ratings of the application: 88%
were satisfied or very satisfied with the site, and 94% felt it was easy to
learn or very easy to learn. While there were specific issues (for example,
hard to find the ‘Home’ button), most were minor and easily correctable.
The overall perception of the Rooms platform was extremely favorable.
This follows on the major Kent State University study we released at ALA Midwinter in Seattle. It covers usability research for the K-12 user. You can read that PDF here. It’s one of the only major public studies done about kids.

Posted on: February 8, 2007, 7:38 pm Category: Uncategorized