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Cline Library Website Usability Test

Describes and discusses usability testing that I conducted as an assignment for an NAU English class
by

Kristin Aldridge

on 7 December 2012

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Transcript of Cline Library Website Usability Test

I. Overview I designed my test to reveal how effectively users were able to interact with two tools on the Cline Library website: EBSCOhost, a document database, and RefWorks, a citation manager. IV. Discussion and Recommendations: By Kristin Aldridge Cline Library Website Usability Test: EBSCOhost and RefWorks II. Participants III. Results EBSCOhost is a database researchers can use to find documents related to research topics. Next, they were asked to use the search function to find citation information for a specific article, "David Lynch Keeps his Head," by David Foster Wallace. I measured the success of this step by whether participants were able to find the correct citation. Users were asked to find the link to EBSCOhost on the Cline Library website... RefWorks organizes
citation information in
a textual format that
a researcher can
use to cite
a document. I then asked participants to use RefWorks to create a textual citation in MLA style. Successful participants were able to provide this citation in the correct format. I asked participants to find a link to RefWorks on the EBSCOhost page. Successful participants were able to export the article citation to RefWorks instead of taking their own notes on the citation information. The study targeted NAU distance-learning graduate students. All 3 participants had used the NAU Cline Library website before participating in this test. All 3 participants had used EBSCOhost before the test. Only 1 participant (participant #1) had used RefWorks before the test. All 3 participants completed the task for EBSCOhost.
Only 2/3 participants completed both tasks. 1 2 3 Participants ranked each task in terms of its difficulty and their satisfaction level. All of the results were on the extremes of the scales, either 1 or 5.
Participants who had previous experience with each tool were far more likely to rate their experience positively (either as "very easy" or "very satisfying").
Participants without previous experience all rated the tools negatively. RefWorks: Participants reported difficulty finding the Cline Library link to RefWorks.
Participants expressed confusion about using their NAU ID as their RefWorks UserID.
Participant #3 was unable to complete the test because she was unable to log back into RefWorks after creating her account. The results indicate that EBSCOhost was both easier and more satisfying for all participants than RefWorks. These ratings relate to the participants' reports of having prior experience with EBSChost, but not with RefWorks. To achieve the same high levels of usability with RefWorks that users experience with EBSCOhost, recommendations are to offer similar user support (e.g. instructions, tutorials, and classroom seminars) for RefWorks so that users can gain experience with this tool. To address the catastrophic error that prevented Participant #3 from completing both tasks, further testing on the RefWorks login process is needed... Future tests should attempt to identify what causes users to be unable to log back into accounts they have created. Testing should include: observation of the ways users try to log in, including data on successful login attempts as well as unsuccessful attempts. investigation of the ways that different types of computers (e.g. PCs, Macs, tablets, smart phones) interact with the RefWorks authentication program. investigation of the RefWorks authentication program itself (to rule out a glitch in this program). Implementation of these recommendations will result in higher satisfaction for Cline Library website users. *Since participants expressed specific confusion about whether their NAU ID could be used to log into RefWorks, it should be stated on the RefWorks website that a RefWorks account is discrete from, not identical to a university account.*
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