This morning we held our third usability test of the year. When I was recruiting students, I tried something new. In addition to the three students who have scheduled testing slots, I recruited a backup student who just had to be in the library fir the duration of the tests, just in case someone canceled. Even if the backup was never called to test, she would still get a t-shirt. That was an easy slot to fill, and it proved a valuable change when the first student canceled. For the first time in three years, I didn’t have to run around the library frantically asking students to participate in the test.
Once again we focused on testing Summon 2.0. Bob Schoofs wrote some new questions that were pulled from current assignments facing students in the history department. In addition, I brought back another question from the previous two tests to give folks an easy win and get a little more feedback on the catalog.
Our questions this time were:
The first two questions we started students at Summon 2.0, and we noticed some interesting things about this new Summon interface that we need to keep in mind as we prepare to transition:
The last two questions students started at the Library homepage. We had added a “Best Bet” to Summon that would direct students who used the tool to search for “census data” to the Government Documents site. It turns out that Best Bets won’t show up if you type any words that don’t match your keywords before the trigger words. In one case, a student searched for “Grand Rapids census data” in Summon, and the Best Bet wasn’t triggered. Even in the case where a student got the Best Bet, it went unnoticed. Of course, the good news is that this isn’t unique to library search tools. Our first student went right to Google to search for census data, and despite the first result being the U.S. Government’s Census site, she was convinced that there weren’t any relevant results.
The final question on using the catalog gave us a few more things to work with:
So a lot of this month’s projects are focused on the catalog. In the next month I will:
I’ll keep you up to date on how these changes are coming along. Once I have some mockups of the item record holdings, expect to see them here.
Running a usability test on our website every month is a lot of work, but it has helped us really hammer away at some of the big issues facing our patrons. Thanks for participating, and I look forward to seeing everyone next time!