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Usability testing for a community college library website

Alyssa M. Valenti (Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville, New Jersey, USA)

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Article publication date: 31 October 2018

Issue publication date: 21 February 2019




This paper details a usability testing case study on a simplified homepage for [Library]. The usability testing was completed in Spring 2017 to meet the needs of diverse user groups and shifting trends in Web design and development. At the conclusion of the usability testing, recommendations for change informed the design decisions and a new homepage was implemented in October 2018.


The researcher performed eight usability tests with a combination of the different library user types; full-time faculty, students, an administrator and members of the public. The usability test consisted of 13 specific tasks. After testers completed the tasks, users filled out a 30-question Likert-scale questionnaire and answered a set of 8 open-ended questions.


This paper discusses the recommendations for change which the researcher discovered at the conclusion of the usability testing period. The research found the need to improve and include specific navigational, visual and easy-to-use elements to best meet the needs of the users in the usability tests. Changes were ranked and implemented on a scale of catastrophic to cosmetic.

Research limitations/implications

As websites, technology and user preferences continually evolve, the homepage will need to be tested for usability again in the next several years. Researchers are encouraged to adapt the methods to their own institutions.

Practical implications

This paper discusses findings specific to [Library], which in turn has proved to increase usage of certain features and functions by the user community.


This is the first time usability testing has been done for the [Library’s] website. It was the first time the design of the homepage was informed by real user preference. This paper is valuable to those looking to create a simple, easy-to-use homepage that best benefits their own unique community of users.



Valenti, A.M. (2019), "Usability testing for a community college library website", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 1-8.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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