Monday, June 1, 2015

Website Usability Chat


Evaluating Website User Experiences
Thursday, June 4, 2015
9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific time
#medlibs Twitter chat
Led by Donna Kafel (@dmkafel), Project Coordinator for the e-Science Portal for New England Librarians
During this week’s #medlibs chat, we’ll be talking about website usability, from the perspective of both users (all of us!) and librarian website-designers (many of us!). Website users and website designers can look at the same website from different perspectives.  Their concerns, while framed differently, are actually quite similar:
  • What is this website about?
  • Is it of interest to me?
  • Can I find what I’m looking for?
  • How do I find what I’m looking for?
Website Designer
  • How do I know what  my users want?
  • How easy is my website to navigate?  
  • Is its organization clear to my users?  
A usable website can be the difference between gaining or losing return visitors. When site visitors come to a site looking for specific information and can’t figure out the site’s navigational structure or the layout of its content, chances are they’ll leave the site frustrated and never return. Usability is not a frivolous website feature; it is critical to the website’s success.
So what qualities make for a usable website? Jakob Nielsen, the “guru of web usability” claims that these five components determine usability:

  • Learnability:  How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?

  • Efficiency:  Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?

  • Memorability:  When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?

  • Errors:  How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?

  • Satisfaction:  How pleasant is it to use the design?
(Nielsen, 2012)

Have you had experiences in website design?  What are your preferences as a website visitor? Have you conducted user testing?  Have you participated in taking a user test?   Whether you’ve been involved in web design, or are a frequent website visitor, please share your thoughts in this Thursday’s #medlibs discussion!

Here are some recommended readings if you’d like to explore web usability further.
Deschenes, Amy. (2014). “Improving the Library Homepage through User Research:  Without a Total Redesign.”  Journal of Library User Experience.

Krug, Steve. (2010). Rocket Surgery Made Easy:  The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. New Riders:  Berkeley, CA.  
Nielsen, Jakob. (2012). Usability 101:  What is Usability?

Webdesigner Depot.  (2009).  Interview with Web Usability Guru, Jakob Nielsen.

Widzer, Joanna, Katie Chan, Ray Bryson, and Dan Welding. (2015).  “Past, Present, Future:  Usability Testing at the National Library of Medicine.” DigitalGov.

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