Atlantic Provinces Library Association Conference 2018

Making Meaning out of Usability Testing: Unpacking a Discovery Layer

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In anticipation of an update to a shared discovery layer during the summer of 2017, Nova Scotia's consortium of academic libraries, Novanet, gave a mandate to the Novanet Usability Committee to conduct usability testing (UX) on the new user interface. With Novanet comprising eleven distinct institutions, the challenge to implement UX testing included a short time frame, inexperience with UX principles and practises, and designing a UX survey that would address the breadth of users of the discovery layer.

Approaching the UX testing with the goal of an easy and universal testing process for all institutions, we had to not only design and implement a UX survey, but also manage unexpected issues along the way, including varying ethics requirements at each institution and determining how to encourage engagement from all the consortium partners.

Preliminary testing took place in Summer 2017, with initial results indicating that some users experienced significant challenges in navigating the new interface. A larger UX testing program occurred in Winter 2018 using an updated UX survey that better captured data, and sampled a more representative participant pool.

This presentation will lay out the step-by-step process we used to design our UX test, recruit student participants, and analyse our results. We will discuss the challenges of UX testing in a consortial setting, and share some of the mistakes we made along the way. Additionally, we will explore an ever-present concern we wrestled with throughout the design and implementation of this project: could we--after going through the testing, analysing the results, and creating recommendations for improvement--actually create true change?

Novanet UX Committee Members

Lindsey MacCallum

Sandra Sawchuk

Cathy Chisholm

Cindy Harrigan