Session Title

Quick and dirty usability testing for libraries with no budget, no technical expertise, and very little time

Presenter Information

Sarah Thorngate, Ripon CollegeFollow

Description

Librarians know that usability testing is important. In order for a library website to effectively connect patrons to information, points of confusion in its design must be identified and corrected. Yet the commitment of finances or time that formal usability testing requires can discourage small libraries from undertaking it. Fortunately, informal alternatives that are easy to implement and accessible to any budget can still provide valuable insights into a site’s usability.

In a recent redesign of the website for Ripon College’s Lane Library, librarians conducted several free, small-scale usability tests throughout the process. This method enabled an iterative approach to building the site—each test provided valuable feedback that could be incorporated into the design.

This workshop will demonstrate several of these tests, each of which requires only a piece of paper and something to write with. Participants will have the opportunity to adapt tests for their own libraries’ websites and practice administering these tests to each other. The usability tests and principles presented are applicable to all types of libraries, can be used together or singly, and are effective for testing minor changes to a website or a complete overhaul.

Start Date

15-3-2012 2:00 PM

End Date

15-3-2012 4:15 PM

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Mar 15th, 2:00 PM Mar 15th, 4:15 PM

Quick and dirty usability testing for libraries with no budget, no technical expertise, and very little time

Librarians know that usability testing is important. In order for a library website to effectively connect patrons to information, points of confusion in its design must be identified and corrected. Yet the commitment of finances or time that formal usability testing requires can discourage small libraries from undertaking it. Fortunately, informal alternatives that are easy to implement and accessible to any budget can still provide valuable insights into a site’s usability.

In a recent redesign of the website for Ripon College’s Lane Library, librarians conducted several free, small-scale usability tests throughout the process. This method enabled an iterative approach to building the site—each test provided valuable feedback that could be incorporated into the design.

This workshop will demonstrate several of these tests, each of which requires only a piece of paper and something to write with. Participants will have the opportunity to adapt tests for their own libraries’ websites and practice administering these tests to each other. The usability tests and principles presented are applicable to all types of libraries, can be used together or singly, and are effective for testing minor changes to a website or a complete overhaul.