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Analyzing the Higher Education Website User Experience

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Lindsey Tollefson

on 13 October 2014

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Transcript of Analyzing the Higher Education Website User Experience

Websites are a virtual gateway
Institutional websites are a virtual gateway

Aesthetics are important to present a positive:
User Experience

Students rely on the institutional website

Further user experience research is needed in the particular area of higher education websites

Minnesota State University, Mankato case study
1. Are key university audiences (prospective and current students) able to find what they need on Minnesota State University, Mankato’s website?

2. What paths do users of Minnesota State University, Mankato’s website (which I will call “site users” for the purposes of this report) take through the site in order to find important information?

3. In general, what impression about our University do site users have after using the website?

4. What features should a higher education website have in order to be user-friendly to a wide audience?

5. How should a higher education website be organized so that it makes sense to novice site users?

Research Questions
No correlation between user-satisfaction and number of clicks
The three-click rule is a usability myth
Research Methods:
usability testing
surveys of participants

Studies revealed no correlation between user-experience and number of clicks
Correlation was found between confidence level and user-experience

Instead of counting clicks, create information-scent
Organize websites from general to specific
Use key-words that are in line with end-user goals
Literature Review
Literature Review
Analyzing the Higher Education Website User Experience
Lindsey Tollefson
Current students
Usability Testing
Current students will be recruited through email
Interested participants will fill out an online form
Participants will be hand-selected to get a diverse group of students

Follow-up Survey
Same sample as usability testing

Anonymous Mixed-Methods Survey
Current students will be recruited through email
Usability testing should be qualitative
"We need to abandon the idea that user testing on the Web is a quantitative process. Focusing on numbers to the exclusion of other data leaves researchers with nothing more than noticeably dubious statements like, “Design A is 5% more usable than design B” (or “90% of all usability testing is useless”). Instead, user research for the Web should delve into the qualitative aspects of design to understand how and why people respond to what has been created, and, more importantly, how to apply that insight to future work." (Becker, 2004, para. 4).
Usability testing & surveys
Usability Testing/Observation
In-person observation session
Students will be given tasks
Students will think aloud
Participants' computer screens and voices will be recorded for future reference

Follow-up Survey
Participants will be asked to complete a brief reaction survey following the usability session

Anonymous Mixed-Methods Survey
Qualitative questions use Likert scale
Qualitative questions focus on overall impression

Surveys & focus groups
Thesis Research
web design
marketing strategies
Specific to higher education websites

Focus Groups

Current students
Prospective students
Community members
Faculty & staff
Textual Analysis of Higher Education Websites
Determined what information on Higher Education websites was most relevant to various audiences:
Current graduate students
Current undergraduate students
Minority students

Textual Analysis
Research relied heavily on the three-click rule

Sample of 40 Higher Education websites across the U.S.
Future studies with other audiences should be done
The audience sampled
This study focuses on the primary audience of Higher Education institutions (current students)
Future studies are needed for other audiences:
Community members
Prospective students and their families

This study trades the variety of audience observations for a more focused look into this primary audience’s needs and experience.
Research analysis
Usability Testing/Observation
Sessions recorded using screen capture software
Observed behaviors recorded in an excel spreadsheet
Data will be analyzed by the researchers and reported in the final report

Qualitative Follow-up Survey
Administered directly following the usability study

Mixed Methods Survey of Current Students
Administered anonymously through Qualtrics
Analysis Technique
Specifically focused on Higher Education Websites
audience perceptions

General research explored
Current usability standards
Usability testing best practices and expert opinion
Full transcript