Let’s get even fancier
Options range from free (well, if you
already have the hardware) to very
expensive (as much as $2,500).
A totally free option: CamStudio
A similar, moderately priced alternative
($300 or less): Techsmith Camtasia
A high end option ($1,500+):
Developing and testing your survey/tool
Some example questions & tasks:
Have you had to do any research to complete any assignment in any of
your classes since you’ve been at the University? Can you tell me a little
about an assignment?
In regards to the VuFind main page…
1) Is it obvious what to do?
Yes _____ No _____
What were you trying to do?
2) Open the drop down box, examine the
options. Do you recognize these options?
Yes _____ No _____ Some _____
Conducting the interview/survey
do’s, don’ts, and lessons learned
Your survey/question set:
how detailed should it be?
Show & Tell: Robert
Undergraduate students told/showed us:
What we expected:
Research methods are dominated by free web “pre-searching,” search first, ask questions later
approach because they are they are search dominant (they don’t want to browse or read). They
also shy away from asking librarians (and even professors) for help, and consider that a last
resort (and in some cases, a poor reflection on their own abilities).
What we didn’t expect:
They don’t use their academic library even if they have had completely positive experiences using
public or high school libraries in the past. They generally don’t use their mobile phones for web
browsing. Although they tend to have laptops (as opposed to desktops) they rarely carry them
around with them.
We got real-world proof from a local user population that showed we need to focus on the single-
search box entry point on out library home page, pushing out “goodies” alongside results, rather
than hoping to divert them to teach them what to use and how to use it first. We were able to
watch for search behaviors (what sites they used, what features attracted them, etc.) and can
then make our site fit their behaviors, rather than trying to make their behaviors fit out site.
Show & Tell: Jenny
“VuFind is going to make the old online catalog as awkward as using the card
catalog is now”
“VuFind strikes me as a dumbed down version of the Google search page
designed to appeal to freshmen who are used to doing Google searches rather
than a serious catalog geared towards scholars conducting serious research.”
•Undergrads search differently than we do (really!)
•Acceptance of a beta
•Saw what is important to users
•Shows where users get hung up
•Our users love the library and what we do for them!
For More Help
Take a look at some of Jakob Nielsen’s work on what makes a web
site usable. Although these texts won’t teach you how to run a
usability study, they’ll give you a great foundation to work from during
the inevitable modifications you’ll be making to your resources after
you run your usability studies.
Take a look at, well, any of his books, but this one in particular:
Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity
His web site, useit.com. Consider subscribing for to the alertbox
Also, look at Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think: A Common
Sense Approach to Web Usability (not library specific, but
extremely easy and entertaining to read)
For Even More Help
Some suggested reading on the benefits of usability studies:
Fried Foster, Nancy. Studying Students: The Undergraduate
Research Project at the University of Rochester
Lindahl, David & Nancy Fried Foster. Enhancing E-Resources by
Studying Users: The University of Rochester's Analysis of Faculty
Perspectives on an Institutional Repository
Consider joining the University of Rochester Usability list-serv. The
community here is well informed and extremely helpful.
Qualitative Research Resources:
Seidman, Irving. Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide
for researchers in Education and the Social Sciences
Patton, Michael Quinn. Qualitative Research & Evaluation
Okay, enough with the help already!
You can contact either of us!
Robert Slater, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny Emanuel, email@example.com