Apples and Oranges: Lessons From a Usability Study of Two Library FAQ Web Sites
Apples and Oranges: Lessons From a Usability Study of Two Library FAQ Web Sites Susan [Gardner] Archambault Kenneth Simon
Loyola Marymount University• Private Catholic University in Los Angeles, California• 5900+ undergraduates and 1900+ graduates• William H. Hannon Library Information Desk open 24/5
Research Question• What is the most effective way to provide access to our Library FAQs?• A comparison of two products: How Do I? and LibAnswers. Which features do students prefer, and which features lead to better performance?
Methodology• Conducted usability testing on 20 undergraduate students at LMU• Population equally represented each class (freshmen through seniors) and had a ratio of 60:40 females to males
Methodology• Used a combination of the Performance Test methodology and the Think-Aloud methodology
Methodology• Students given 10 performance tasks to complete at a computer twice - once using LibAnswers as starting point, and once using How Do I?• After each performance task, students given questionnaire measuring satisfaction with site
Performance Task QuestionsHow to print in the library from a laptop How to request a research consultationHow long can a graduate student check How to search for a book by the author’sout a book nameWhere are the library copy machines How to tell what books are on reserve for a classHow to request a book from basement Where to access CRSPSift software in thestorage libraryCan a Loyola law school student reserve How much does it cost for an undergrada group study room in advance to request a magazine article from another library
Methodology• Audio recorded and computer screen activity captured via “ScreenFlow” screencasting software
Additional Questions• How likely would you be to use each page again?• What was your favorite aspect of each site?• What was your least favorite aspect?• Overall, do you prefer LibAnswers or How Do I?
Performance Scoring: Speed• Start the clock when the person begins searching for the answer to a new question on the home page of the site they are testing• Stop the clock when they copy the URL with the answer
Performance Scoring: Accuracy Check off the one thatWas the Answer… applies: Pointed to a related question under the Completely Accurate: found the answer correct category, but incorrect page On the correct path to the information, but did not go far enough or Incorrect and off topic took wrong subsequent path On the correct page, but did not see the answer (supersedes everything else they Gave up: never found an answer tried on other attempts to answer)
Performance Scoring: Efficiency• Count the number of times the person made a new attempt, or started down a new path, by returning to the home page *after* a previous attempt away from or on the homepage failed
Sample Scoring Video bit.ly/usabilityvideoSite Speed Accuracy EfficiencyHow Do I? 46 seconds Completely Accurate +1 (clicked 1 wrong path)LibAnswers 36 seconds Completely Accurate +1 (clicked 1 wrong path)
Performance ResultsSpeed Average (seconds) Efficiency Total Wrong PathsLibAnswers 40.55 LibAnswers 30How Do I? 33.90 How Do I? 40
Performance ResultsAccuracy LibAnswers How Do I?Completely accurate 182 (91%) 175 (87.5%)Correct path but did not go 5 (2.5%) 15 (7.5%)far enough or took a wrongsubsequent pathCorrect page, but did not 3 (1.5%) 3 (1.5%)see the answerPointed to a related 6 (3%) 3 (1.5%)question under the correctcategory, but incorrectpageIncorrect and off-topic 0 3 (1.5%)Gave up: never found 4 (2%) 1 (.005%)answer
LibAnswers Features UsedFeature Number Who Used PercentSearch Box 16 80%Auto-Suggest 12 60%Popular Answers 9 45%Cloud Tag 8 40%Related Questions 4 20%Change Topic Drop-down 2 10%Recent Answers 2 10%
SatisfactionLikely to use Very Unlikely Undecided Likely Veryagain unlikely LikelyLibAnswers 0 15% (3) 5 (25%) 5 (25%) 7 (35%)How Do I? 0 15% (3) 3 (15%) 5 (25%) 9 (45%)
SatisfactionOverall preference ResponseLibAnswers 40% (8)How Do I? 60% (12)
Patterns• Overall, 9 of 20 performed worse with the site they said they preferred.• 4 of 5 freshmen performed worse with the site they said they preferred. Upperclassmen were more consistent.• Females tended to perform better with their preferred site; males did not.• 75% of the males preferred How Do I? over LibAnswers, while females were evenly divided.
LibAnswersLikes Dislikes • Overwhelming interface /• Keyword search “like a cluttered search engine” • Long list of specific• Autosuggest in search questions but hard to find the info you want bar • Less efficient than the• Popular topics list “How Do I” page• Friendly / pleasant to • Once you do a search, you lose your original question use • Autosuggestions are• Don’t have to read ambiguous or too through categories broad, and sometimes don’t function properly
How Do I?Likes Dislikes• Fast / efficient to use • Less efficient than the LibAnswers page: have to• Everything is right read a lot there in front of you: “I • Too restricted: needs a don’t have to type, just search box click” • Have to guess a category• Simple, clearly laid out to decide where to look categories • Limited number of too- broad questions• Organized and clean • Boring / basic looking appearance
Sharing results with Springshare• Retain question asked in search results screen.• Add stopwords to search, so typing “How do I” doesn’t drop down a long list of irrelevant stuff, and “Where is” and “where are” aren’t mutually exclusive.• Remove “related LibGuides” content to reduce clutter.• Control the list of “related questions” below an answer: they seem to be based only on the first topic assigned to a given question.
Conclusions• Ended up with a • Sitting in silence balance between two watching the extremes rather than participants made them one or the other nervous. Next time maybe leave the room• Think-aloud method: and have a self-guided gave up control; no test preconceived ideas could influence • Efficiency is difficult to outcome measure: moved away from counting clicks
AcknowledgementsThank you:• Shannon Billimore• Jennifer Masunaga• LMU Office of Assessment/Christine Chavez• Springshare
Bibliography• Ericsson, K.A. and Simon, H.A. • Porter, J. (2003). Testing the (1980). Verbal Reports as Data. Three-Click Rule. Retrieved from Psychological Review, 87(3), 215- http://www.uie.com/articles/thre 251. e_click_rule/.• Smith, Ashleigh, Magner, Brian, a • Willis, G.B. (2005). Cognitive nd Phelan, Paraic. (2008, Nov. Interviewing: A Tool for Improving 20). Think Aloud Protocol Part 2. Questionnaire Design. Thousand Retrieved May 3, 2012 from Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=dyQ_rtylJ3c&feature=related• Norlin, Elaina. (2002). Usability Testing for Library Web Sites: A Hands-On Guide. Chicago: American Library Association.
Additional InformationPresentation Slides Contact Us• bit.ly/gardnersimon Ken Simon Reference & Instruction Technologies Librarian Loyola Marymount University Twitter: @ksimon Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Susan [Gardner] Archambault Head of Reference & Instruction Loyola Marymount University Twitter: @susanLMU Email: email@example.com