Refining a Local Bibliographic Database Design with Usability Testing: The Mayo Authors User Interface Project


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Refining a Local Bibliographic Database Design with Usability Testing: The Mayo Authors User Interface Project

  1. 1. Refining a Local Bibliographic Database Design with Usability Testing: The Mayo Authors User Interface Project Melissa L. Rethlefsen, Dottie Hawthorne, Mark Wentz, Larry Prokop, Thomas Suther, John Schultz Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN Results Methods To improve the interface of a newly redesigned local bibliographic database, Mayo Authors, through usability testing. Objectives The Mayo Authors database is a local bibliographic database tracking the publication histories of Mayo Clinic staff since 1871. Economic and technological considerations led the libraries to completely redesign the database and its user interface in 2010. The user interface initially combined a traditional, set-based advanced search with a Google-like basic search interface. The usability study method allowed us to significantly improve the functionality and form of the Mayo Authors database. To test its usability, the Mayo Authors team conducted a study with the assistance of the Clinic’s usability lab and design staff. A set of questions designed to test the basic and advanced capabilities of the system was developed, tested, and refined by team members. After questions were finalized, ten staff from inside and outside the libraries were recruited for usability testing. Each participant spent an hour in the usability lab working through the questions using a think aloud protocol, followed by a brief interview and a short survey. The participants were videotaped and their screens recorded; each participant hour was followed by an hour of discussion to identify problematic areas in the database usability. Further post-testing discussion resulted in further refinement of the database’s user interface. Conclusion From observing 10 participants going through 14 scenarios each, a set of 233 findings--including comments, issues, bugs, and trouble spots--was created. Each of the findings was discussed and addressed. Improvements made included changing terminology, fixing identified bugs, and overhauling the options for saving and viewing searches. Advanced Search <ul><li>Findings and Observations: </li></ul><ul><li>Participants used the All Authors box to search for author names instead of the Mayo Authors list </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple title search fields confusing </li></ul><ul><li>Should spell out departments/specialties </li></ul><ul><li>Fixes: </li></ul><ul><li>Rearranged Advanced Search options to feature Mayo Authors and make year more prominent </li></ul>Saving Searches <ul><li>Findings and Observations: </li></ul><ul><li>MyMADB too confusing; participants did not understand how to save a search due to two-step saving process </li></ul><ul><li>Naming, saving, and re-running searches was complicated </li></ul><ul><li>Fixes: </li></ul><ul><li>Added Save Search button to results page </li></ul><ul><li>Renamed MyMADB “Saved Searches” </li></ul><ul><li>Simplified Save Options screen and edited terminology </li></ul><ul><li>Built log in into saving process </li></ul>Search Results <ul><li>Findings and Observations: </li></ul><ul><li>Participants thought marked items would automatically be the ones saved or emailed </li></ul><ul><li>Participants did not understand what “Metrics” meant </li></ul><ul><li>Fixes: </li></ul><ul><li>New mark/unmark icon and descriptive text </li></ul><ul><li>New option to save/display/email marked items directly from results screen </li></ul><ul><li>More spacing and use of bold type and color in search results </li></ul><ul><li>“Department” changed to “Mayo Authors” </li></ul><ul><li>Changed Metrics to Statistics </li></ul> <ul><li>Findings and Observations: </li></ul><ul><li>Participants tended to move to using only Advanced Search after an initial search in Basic Search </li></ul><ul><li>Participants found the radio buttons confusing </li></ul><ul><li>Author list rarely used </li></ul><ul><li>Fixes: </li></ul><ul><li>Change to “Browse Mayo Authors” </li></ul><ul><li>Add description to Browse list </li></ul><ul><li>Remove radio buttons from Basic Search </li></ul><ul><li>Add tips </li></ul>Basic Search