This is one the browse services from the World Digital library. This one consists of several image carousels enabling the users to browse images according to different part of the world. This is essentially another representation of the world map. Lorraine, our usability analyst has inspected this interface and found several potential usability issues. This include small control making navigation difficult. We also question the number of images presented in this way. Is this information at a glance or potential information overload. These questions needed to be asked and answered since the services are already online. [And just how easy it is to scan through all these images?]
Faceted search user interface is another key subject of the project This UI feature is becoming very common. You can find it in most online shopping sites now such as Amazon. A lot of library UI I came across are providing this feature. Faceted search basically integrates searching and browsing. From a simple keyword search, user quickly refine the result sets by selecting a range of facets which is basically pre-defined boolean searches presented as links . These links are more user friendly compared to traditional advanced search. This Europeana interface There are two common features . First, the facets which is presented on the left here, Second, a breadcrumb trail like UI for user to navigate back to a particular facet they have selected. In UX2, we have conducted studies on several existing digital libraries and open source system with faceted search. In Europeana, Visual feedback are provided on selection, selected facets are higlighted in pink Europeana allows users to de-select facets to widen search by toggling action (Nielsen H3) Faceted search criteria not always clear One of the biggest issue we found on Europeana is, it is not clear to users if the results are Boolean AND or OR. For example, the UI allows you to select two country facets. The results seems to suggest a boolean OR result set. But this is not clear to the user. [Therefore the does not effectively guide and support users in learning to use the system (ISO H4)] [Allowing users to select multiple categories is an emerging and advanced feature of faceted navigation. It should also be clear to users what results are being provided] Facets close Another issue we came across is that the facets are closed by default after a search. Users need to manually toggle each of facet headings to reveal the facets before deciding what to do with them. And they have repeat the actions every time after a search. These extra steps and the hidden aspect, the low visibility of the facets really affect usability. --------------- In these studies, we looked at how effective users can narrow results (ISO H5), - how easy it is to learn to use (ISO H4) by utilising familiar concepts (Nielsen H2) --------------
This is the faceted search UI of the World Digital Library. The facets on are also presented on the left. Compared to Europeana, the facets are more visible and not closed by default The UI provides flexibility in narrowing and widening search Users can select multiple facets which appear in a breadcrumb trail above results But unlike Europeana, the facets can be cherry-picked and removed independently to create different result sets. This is good because users have greater control (Nielsen H3) But there are usability issues with WDL too . The default order of presenting some of the facets is questionable. Currently, the default presentation lists facets in a descending order based on the total number of matches. But this default order does not always fit the user’s mental model (Nielsen H2). For example, date or period type facets can be presented chronologically so the user can scan them quickly. ----- Order of presenting categories example: date or period type facets can be presented chronologically (with the option to change the order by number of results) and subject headings, alphabetically.
AquaBrowser is another interface which we have tested. It addressed the facet ordering issue, dates facets are now presented chronologically by default (Nielsen H2). It provides a more traditional breadcrumb interaction similar to Europeana. User can only navigate back to a previous facet selection, they can’t cherry picked facets. AquaBrowser present facets on the right and they are opened by default. This leaves room for a new tag cloud feature on the left. This unique tag cloud combining the use of animation and colour without the typical tag size effect (right) Explains.. The feature has been contentious and mixed A common view in the usability community is that the feature should be used with caution and definitely not for mainstream site. But other research has suggested the potential for serendipitous discovery even for domain experts (Olson, 2007) So which is right? Is this feature useful or not? We have actually tested this interface with library users. During a usability test session, we asked a user to find a book on web usability by Jakob nielsen. This task is quite tricky because there many spelling variation on web usability and jakob nielsen. Some of the users didn’t manage to find the book, because the system keep showing them false results. They can’t get the spelling right either even though the tag cloud keep suggesting the correct spelling. So tag cloud in a very prominent position but why are the users ignoring it? [Word cloud… video]. One example we came across few times is the use of tag cloud. There seems to be a lot of reservation about it’s use in the usability community. And yet tag cloud is becoming widespread in print and online media, and also in the digital library domain where it is actively being researched and developed. [open to floor?]
Well there are various ways to find out whether a system is useful not, You can do it through user research, using standard research techniques such as survey and interviews. You can also evaluate prototypes of what you are intending to build first, Not all prototypes need to be fully working, in fact using low-fi prototypes such as wireframe is more conducive technique for gauging usefulness. Usability testing is a traditional method for testing a system in a more formal or lab based environment It’s usually involves a participant doing predefined tasks on the system. The participant would “”think-aloud” while doing the tasks. A usability expert who usually sits next to the participant, will be observing the session and asking probing questions. Field study is another user research. It is often referred as contextual inquiry which is related to ethnographic study in the social science domain. The study provides broader understandings of how systems fit into working environments, What are the common user goals, patterns of use and user behaviour and so on. The study mainly involved observations of users when they are using the system in real-use contexts. [It also addresses the difficulties other research methods such as survey and interviews, when the research area is a bit fuzzy and difficult to be articulated by both the researchers and users.] ------------------- We are pretty much new to this field, if you have worked in this area before, we’d welcome any advice. Also user recruitment has been issued for us too, especially for long term studies such as diary studies that would produce more meaningful results. We have recently started a field study targeting the first two objectives of the project, to evaluate the usefulness of AquaBrowser and also to develop library personas…
In UX2, we have performed a field study of AquaBrower usage. The study was conducted at Edinburgh university library, the Main library in George Sq. The study looked at the library catalogue terminals on the ground floor of the library. The terminal are scattered in various locations such as the main foyer and short-loan section. A common features of all the terminals is that you have to stand while using them and being a public area is another feature. The field study was conducted in two half day sessions during the exam period.
In one particular session, we observed 17 sessions. Most of the activities happened at the terminals in the short loan section The common goals for using the terminal as you’d expect is resource discovery. Most users searched for books of a particular subject, One user repeatedly looked up books on a reading list. Some were looking up shelf-mark before they disappear into the nearby bookshelves and browse books directly. So the vicinity of bookshelves obviously affects how users would use the terminals too. [With users increasingly become mobile with the internet capable phone, these environmental factors will become important] There are 3 main activities:… and making note on papers. May be this is a call of an online notepad service?
There are various forms of information seeking behaviour. The majority of the users have a straight forward behaviour. They conducted keyword search once to obtain a result and leave the terminal. This include looking up one specific book, a shelf-mark or repeated looking up known books a reading list. Some of behaviours are tactical for example term tactics which is similar Googling.. changing search terms according to different results. Information structure tactics is one the user would use when they know the information well, and use it to find information.. For example looking up other books via the shelfmark link of another book [Query reformulation tactics correspond to the use of advanced search and faceting] The strategic category involves the combined use of different tactics. For example, doing term tactics, Googling to find books and then following up a subject heading to find more books.
We have found no tag cloud usage was observed during the session. 3 users collapsed or closed the tag cloud UI. 2 confirmed that they accidentally closed it because they thought it’s the back button. None of them re-open the UI and continue to search for books. I posed random questions to some users about the tag cloud. Most said they didn’t use it. Some are aware of the features as they’ve correctly described the intended use for exploratory discovery.
3 out of the 13 users observed make use of faceted navigation. … … One did a term search, opened the big subject headings list through the ‘more’ option and selected a facet from there.
3 out of the 13 users observed make use of faceted navigation. … … One did a term search, opened the big subject headings list using the ‘more’ option and selected a facet from there.
3 out of the 13 users observed make use of faceted navigation. … … One did a term search, opened the big subject headings list through the ‘more’ option and selected a facet from there to obtain a list of books.
We have observed an interesting terminal hopping behaviour. For some reason, a majority of users attempted to select some links on the top of the UI to begin their search All attempts were greeted by a system error message because the links are not supposed to work in the library terminals As a result, most users hopped between terminals. [Other need to be reminded that they can just continue using the terminal, by replacing the keywords and hit the search buttons.]
I asked some of the users why they do this. They all said they wanted to clear the current search to start afresh .. because most terminals have been left in a used state by previous users. I also come across some users who wanted to wipe their session after completing the search But they wasn’t able to. There is no obvious way to begin a fresh search session in AquaBrowser.
That’s all from me.. I hope you find the talk useful. Here are some references. Thank you.
USABILITY AND CONTEMPORARY USER EXPERIENCE IN DIGITAL LIBRARIES For Metadata and Web 2.0 – CIGS Seminar Boon Low eSI, University of Edinburgh 23 February 2011