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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

M. Georgievski and N. Sharda

This paper seeks to present a comparative study of the traditional usabilitytesting process and the re‐engineered usabilitytesting process for live multimedia systems.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to present a comparative study of the traditional usabilitytesting process and the re‐engineered usabilitytesting process for live multimedia systems.

Design/methodology/approach

Provides an overview of current usabilitytesting techniques and usability laboratory configurations, and identifies some gaps in the traditional usabilitytesting approach.

Findings

Traditional usabilitytesting procedures are suitable for testing systems in the static environment but prove to be sub‐optimal in testing systems for dynamic (real‐time) environments.

Originality/value

The traditional set‐up is compared with innovative laboratory configuration, which consists of three computer systems: the test system in the middle augmented by two systems on either side that function as the scenario presenter and the data collection system. The re‐engineered usabilitytesting process streamlined usability experiments and reduced the task completion times.

Details

Journal of Enterprise Information Management, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0398

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2005

Sophie Bury and Joanne Oud

Usability testing can play a valuable role in improving the effectiveness of online information literacy instruction, while forming a core component in a wider assessment…

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3534

Abstract

Purpose

Usability testing can play a valuable role in improving the effectiveness of online information literacy instruction, while forming a core component in a wider assessment plan. This article aims to discuss the usability testing of an online information literacy tutorial for freshman undergraduates at Wilfrid Laurier University Library.

Design/methodology/approach

Two librarians, working to fulfill an important mandate of the Library's Information Literacy Task Force, defined goals, created and implemented a modest, though effective, approach to usability assessment.

Findings

The testing provided detailed information on the ease of use of the tutorial, as well as users’ satisfaction levels with content and design. These findings informed subsequent revisions and enhancements to the online tutorial.

Originality/value

Student evaluation questionnaires distributed subsequent to the tutorial overhaul indicate the success of usability testing in the development of a more effective learning tool.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 21 March 2008

S.M. Zabed Ahmed

The purpose of this research is to compare the results of two different usability techniques in evaluating the Web of Science interface.

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2202

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to compare the results of two different usability techniques in evaluating the Web of Science interface.

Design/methodology/approach

At first three human factors experts conducted a heuristic evaluation with the interface. Then, usability testing was conducted with 22 students recruited from various departments at Loughborough University, UK.

Findings

A comparison of these techniques showed that heuristic evaluation revealed qualitative information whereas usability testing uncovered mostly quantitative data about usability of the interface. Although heuristic evaluation found more problems than usability testing, it also identified complementary information.

Research limitations/implications

This paper recommends applying multiple usability techniques to ensure comprehensiveness in evaluating IR interfaces.

Originality/value

This paper shows that using multiple usability techniques resulted in a high degree of comprehensiveness in evaluating IR user interfaces.

Details

Performance Measurement and Metrics, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-8047

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2005

Robert L. Tolliver, David S. Carter, Suzanne E. Chapman, Phillip M. Edwards, Jeanie E. Fisher, Annette L. Haines, Lana E. Krolikowski and Rebecca M. Price

The aim of this case study is to present one library's experiences consulting with a usability expert during the design and implementation phases of a new academic library…

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5615

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this case study is to present one library's experiences consulting with a usability expert during the design and implementation phases of a new academic library website and the lessons learned during the process.

Design/methodology/approach

The library staff worked with the consultant so that he understood the work of the librarians and goals for the website. Together the consultant and library staff developed a series of tests to measure the usability of the site. The librarians implemented the tests, gradually taking the leadership role in the process.

Findings

The study confirms the value of usability testing as a tool to bring to light some of the ambiguities and complexities of a library website for users. The study demonstrates that librarians have developed an expertise and knowledge base that transfers well to the evaluation of websites and online resources. The experience of the University of Michigan AAE Library reveals that usability testing should be an ongoing exercise so that the website remains relevant to the users.

Practical implications

This study advises librarians of the value of testing and that, on the one hand, test results confirm what one imagines about the users' experiences, but on the other hand they reveal the unexpected strategies and understandings of the users.

Originality/value

This case study provides a useful example of the value of working with a usability expert, a discussion of what to expect during the process, and advice about the role of the librarian in such an endeavor.

Details

OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1065-075X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

Jenny Craven and Helen Booth

The purpose of this paper is to describes the methods and findings of two research projects undertaken to explore user behaviour and usability issues relating to the use…

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1717

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describes the methods and findings of two research projects undertaken to explore user behaviour and usability issues relating to the use of Web‐based resources by people with disabilities.

Design/methodology/approach

Whilst the aims of the research differed, the methods adopted were similar – including observation, talk aloud protocols, questionnaires and focus groups.

Findings

The findings from both studies provided evidence of the problems faced by disabled users when using Web‐based resources. It provided evidence of the types of features users liked and disliked, how they overcame navigational problems and what types of features enhanced their experience, all of which can be fed back into recommendations for the design of electronic resources.

Practical implications

The richness of the data collected for both studies confirmed the importance of involving users in accessibility and usability assessments. Analysis of both the findings and the methods for both studies also enabled a checklist to be developed, outlining issues that should be taken into consideration when planning a usability test.

Originality/value

Document analysis of past and current usability studies revealed that suggested methods are often directed more towards expert usability testing, rather than managing the user testing in‐house. Although it may be preferable to engage an expert, in reality practical guidance is also needed. The checklist aims to address gaps in usability advice identified, by providing practical guidance to enable providers and developers of web‐based resources to conduct their own effective usability testing.

Details

Library Review, vol. 55 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

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Article
Publication date: 13 March 2007

Leslie Porter

The purpose of this paper is to investigate usability testing methods currently in use outside of library science, primarily in the business world, and to find important…

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971

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate usability testing methods currently in use outside of library science, primarily in the business world, and to find important techniques that can be applied to library science to improve usability testing in libraries.

Design/methodology/approach

Objectives are achieved through a review of the business literature on qualitative and quantitative web site usability testing. The approach to the topic is based on an assumption that businesses are constantly refining their testing methods in order to make a profit; therefore, their testing methods are evolving and may ultimately be more efficient and effective than the techniques currently in use in libraries. Because businesses are dependent on consumer choice, they must provide user‐friendly web interfaces developed out of usability testing.

Findings

The findings of this paper illustrate that there are many useful kernels of information about testing that can be gleaned from the business literature and applied to testing in a library environment. Testing methods not in use in libraries that are covered include: process‐oriented testing, side‐by‐side testing, hybrid testing, and unique qualitative data gathering methods.

Practical implications

There are many testing methods discussed in this paper that can be implemented in libraries. The paper suggests how these methods can be adapted to fit a library testing setting and improve the current testing process in place in most libraries. Improved testing methods will ultimately result in improved web site interfaces, which will increase user access to information and help libraries fulfill their missions to make information and online resources accessible to all.

Originality/value

Usability testing methods currently not in use in libraries are proposed. The methods discussed can help librarians change and improve their testing methodologies in order to help libraries compete in the increasingly crowded information marketplace.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2015

Khaled A. Mohamed and Ahmed Hassan

This study aims to explore a framework for evaluating and comparing two federated search tools (FSTs) using two different retrieval protocols: XML gateways and Z39.50…

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1026

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore a framework for evaluating and comparing two federated search tools (FSTs) using two different retrieval protocols: XML gateways and Z39.50. FSTs are meta-information retrieval systems developed to facilitate the searching of multiple resources through a single search box. FSTs allow searching of heterogeneous platforms, such as bibliographic and full-text databases, online public access catalogues, web search engines and open-access resources.

Design/methodology/approach

The proposed framework consists of three phases: the usability testing, retrievability performance assessment and overall comparison. The think-aloud protocol was implemented for usability testing and FSTs retrieval consistency, and precision tests were carried out to assess the retrievability performance for 20 real user queries.

Findings

Participants were directed to assign weights for the interface usability and system retrievability importance as indicators for FST evaluation. Results indicated that FSTs retrievability performance was of more importance than the interface usability. Participants assigned an average weight of 62 per cent for the system retrievability and 38 per cent for interface usability. In terms of the usability test, there was no significant difference between the two FSTs, while minor differences were found regarding retrieval consistency and precision at 11-point cut-off recall. The overall evaluation showed that the FST based on the XML gateway rated slightly higher than the FST based on the Z39.50 protocol.

Research limitations/implications

This empirical study faced several limitations. First, the lack of participants’ familiarity with usability testing created the need for a deep awareness and rigorous supervision. Second, the difficulties of empirically assessing participants’ perspectives and future attitudes called for mixing between a formal task and the think-aloud protocol for participants in a real environment. This has been a challenge that faced the collection of the usability data including user behaviour, expectations and other empirical data. Third, the differences between the two FSTs in terms of number of connectors and advanced search techniques required setting rigorous procedures for testing FSTs retrieval consistency and precision.

Practical implications

This paper has practical implications in two dimensions. First, its results could be utilized by FST developers to enhance their product’s performance. Second, the framework could be used by librarians to evaluate FSTs performance and capabilities. The framework enables them to compare between library systems in general and FSTs in particular. In addition to these practical implications, the authors encourage researchers to use and enhance the proposed framework.

Social implications

Librarians can use the proposed framework to empirically select an FST, involving users in the selection procedures of these information retrieval systems, so that it accords with users’ perspectives and attitudes and serves the community better.

Originality/value

The proposed framework could be considered a benchmark for FST evaluation.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 33 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 22 May 2009

Judith Wusteman

The purpose of this paper is to describe a case study of the development, features and evaluation of a rich internet application for libraries. It aims to demonstrate best…

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1231

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe a case study of the development, features and evaluation of a rich internet application for libraries. It aims to demonstrate best practice in the use of software standards, development processes and evaluation.

Design/methodology/approach

Web 2.0, open source design methods and usability testing were used within an agile framework.

Findings

The adoption of agile software development methods, coupled with usability testing, would enable the library community to take full advantage of the techniques and principles inherent in Web 2.0 open source software.

Research limitations/implications

A major component of the evaluation of OJAX was a series of usability tests. As is the nature of most usability studies, the results are not generalisable.

Originality/value

Aspects of agile software development methods, such as usability testing and iterative design, are recognised in the literature as contributing to the usability of library software. However, exploration of the use of a full agile framework plus usability testing to facilitate Web 2.0 open source software is rare in library‐related literature.

Details

Aslib Proceedings, vol. 61 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0001-253X

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2002

Maryellen Allen

Usability testing of Web interfaces for virtual libraries is a crucial factor in the continuing development and improvement of the user interface. In 1999, the University…

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1745

Abstract

Usability testing of Web interfaces for virtual libraries is a crucial factor in the continuing development and improvement of the user interface. In 1999, the University of South Florida Libraries decided to embark on a usability study to coincide with the rollout of a new interface design. Because this type of study had not been conducted with the initial interface, its implementation and completion were paramount in the development of the new design. Details the preliminary activities, testing methodologies and results of usability testing by the USF virtual library project’s usability study group.

Details

Online Information Review, vol. 26 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2011

William Denton and Sarah J. Coysh

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of an academic library's implementation of a discovery layer (VuFind 1.0 RC1) as a next‐generation catalogue, based on…

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2137

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of an academic library's implementation of a discovery layer (VuFind 1.0 RC1) as a next‐generation catalogue, based on usability testing and an online survey.

Design/methodology/approach

Usability tests were performed on ten students (eight undergraduates, two graduates), asking a set of 14 task‐oriented questions about the customized VuFind interface. Task completion was scored using a simple formula to generate a percentage indicating success or failure. Changes to the interface were made based on resulting scores and on feedback and observations of users during testing. An online survey was also run for three weeks, to which 75 people responded. The results were analyzed, compared and cross‐tested with the findings of the usability testing.

Findings

Both the usability testing and survey demonstrated that users preferred VuFind's interface over the classic catalogue. They particularly liked the facets and the richness of the search results listings. Users intuitively understood how to use the deconcatenated Library of Congress Subject Headings. Despite the discovery layer's new functionality, known journal title searching still presents a challenge to users and certain terms used in the interface were problematic.

Practical implications

It is hoped that the findings will assist implementers of VuFind and other next‐generation catalogues to improve their own systems. The questions add to the body of knowledge about usability testing of library catalogues.

Originality/value

No previous papers have been published documenting VuFind usability testing. Not only will the findings be relevant, not just to VuFind, but they will also add to the growing body of literature on next‐generation catalogues.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

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