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Apples and Oranges: Lessons From a Usability Study of Two Library FAQ Web Sites Susan [Gardner] Archambault Kenneth Simon.

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Presentation on theme: "Apples and Oranges: Lessons From a Usability Study of Two Library FAQ Web Sites Susan [Gardner] Archambault Kenneth Simon."— Presentation transcript:

1 Apples and Oranges: Lessons From a Usability Study of Two Library FAQ Web Sites Susan [Gardner] Archambault Kenneth Simon

2 Loyola Marymount University Private Catholic University in Los Angeles, California 5900+ undergraduates and 1900+ graduates William H. Hannon Library Information Desk open 24/5

3 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?

4 How Do I?

5 LibAnswers

6 Auto-Suggest Feature

7 Related Questions Feature

8 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

9 Methodology Used a combination of the Performance Test methodology and the Think-Aloud methodology

10 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

11 Performance Task Questions How to print in the library from a laptopHow to request a research consultation How long can a graduate student check out a book How to search for a book by the author’s name Where are the library copy machinesHow to tell what books are on reserve for a class How to request a book from basement storage Where to access CRSPSift software in the library Can a Loyola law school student reserve a group study room in advance How much does it cost for an undergrad to request a magazine article from another library

12 Satisfaction Scale

13 Methodology Audio recorded and computer screen activity captured via “ScreenFlow” screencasting software

14 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?

15 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

16 Performance Scoring: Accuracy Was the Answer… Completely Accurate: found the answer On the correct path to the information, but did not go far enough or took wrong subsequent path On the correct page, but did not see the answer (supersedes everything else they tried on other attempts to answer) Check off the one that applies: Pointed to a related question under the correct category, but incorrect page Incorrect and off topic Gave up: never found an answer

17 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

18 Sample Scoring Video Sample Scoring Video SiteSpeedAccuracyEfficiency How Do I?46 secondsCompletely Accurate+1 (clicked 1 wrong path) LibAnswers36 secondsCompletely Accurate+1 (clicked 1 wrong path)

19 Performance Results SpeedAverage (seconds) LibAnswers40.55 How Do I?33.90 EfficiencyTotal Wrong Paths LibAnswers30 How Do I?40

20 Performance Results AccuracyLibAnswersHow Do I? Completely accurate182 (91%)175 (87.5%) Correct path but did not go far enough or took a wrong subsequent path 5 (2.5%)15 (7.5%) Correct page, but did not see the answer 3 (1.5%) Pointed to a related question under the correct category, but incorrect page 6 (3%)3 (1.5%) Incorrect and off-topic03 (1.5%) Gave up: never found answer 4 (2%)1 (.005%)

21 LibAnswers Features Used FeatureNumber Who UsedPercent Search Box1680% Auto-Suggest1260% Popular Answers945% Cloud Tag840% Related Questions420% Change Topic Drop-down210% Recent Answers210%

22 Satisfaction Likely to use again Very unlikely UnlikelyUndecidedLikelyVery Likely LibAnswers015% (3)5 (25%) 7 (35%) How Do I?015% (3)3 (15%)5 (25%)9 (45%)

23 Satisfaction Overall preferenceResponse LibAnswers40% (8) How Do I?60% (12)

24 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.

25 LibAnswers Likes Keyword search “like a search engine” Autosuggest in search bar Popular topics list Friendly / pleasant to use Don’t have to read through categories Dislikes Overwhelming interface / cluttered Long list of specific questions but hard to find the info you want Less efficient than the “How Do I” page Once you do a search, you lose your original question Autosuggestions are ambiguous or too broad, and sometimes don’t function properly

26 How Do I? Likes Fast / efficient to use Everything is right there in front of you: “I don’t have to type, just click” Simple, clearly laid out categories Organized and clean looking Dislikes Less efficient than the LibAnswers page: have to read a lot Too restricted: needs a search box Have to guess a category to decide where to look Limited number of too- broad questions Boring / basic appearance

27 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.

28 Take the best of… How Do I

29 Take the best of… LibAnswers

30 But wait… There is another.

31 Take the best of… Get Help

32 The best of all worlds

33 Conclusions Ended up with a balance between two extremes rather than one or the other Think-aloud method: gave up control; no preconceived ideas could influence outcome Sitting in silence watching the participants made them nervous. Next time maybe leave the room and have a self-guided test Efficiency is difficult to measure: moved away from counting clicks

34 Acknowledgements Thank you: Shannon Billimore Jennifer Masunaga LMU Office of Assessment/Christine Chavez Springshare

35 Bibliography Ericsson, K.A. and Simon, H.A. (1980). Verbal Reports as Data. Psychological Review, 87(3), 215- 251. Smith, Ashleigh, Magner, Brian, and Phelan, Paraic. (2008, Nov. 20). Think Aloud Protocol Part 2. Retrieved May 3, 2012 from v=dyQ_rtylJ3c&feature=related v=dyQ_rtylJ3c&feature=related Norlin, Elaina. (2002). Usability Testing for Library Web Sites: A Hands-On Guide. Chicago: American Library Association. Porter, J. (2003). Testing the Three-Click Rule. Retrieved from e_click_rule/. e_click_rule/ Willis, G.B. (2005). Cognitive Interviewing: A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

36 Additional Information Presentation Slides Contact Us Ken Simon Reference & Instruction Technologies Librarian Loyola Marymount University Twitter: @ksimon Email: Susan [Gardner] Archambault Head of Reference & Instruction Loyola Marymount University Twitter: @susanLMU Email:

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