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Packin’ up, shippin’ out April 17, 2009

Posted by davidjdahl in Activity.
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Thanks for your input!  From the looks of it, most of you like the prototype for the homepage (70% of thumbs are pointing up!).  For those who aren’t as impressed, we’re still working on things – let us know what you’d like to see.

So what have we been working on?

The library web committee has been hard at work over the past two weeks, putting together a preliminary web-based prototype.  Now, we’ve shipped it out (emailed it, that is) to the usability lab at University of Baltimore for some offsite usability testing over the next few weeks.  Three groups of graduate students studying interaction design will spend hours testing participants, analyzing results, and compiling reports for us to use as we refine our designs.

What is usability?

Usability is what makes your VCR “a piece of junk” when it eats your videotape even though you put it in upside-down, it’s why your car has keyless entry (those locks are hard to find in the dark), and it’s why everyone loves Apple products. Oh no wait, that’s aesthetics (jk).

Usability is the perspective that every mistake the user makes reflects poorly on the product’s (in this case, the website’s) design.  By focusing on the usability of our design, we can produce a website that is easy to learn, use, and remember.  Though it’s most likely impossible to make something 100% usable, it’s a goal that we feel is worthy of our continued effort.

Stay tuned for results…


All out of (card) sorts… February 20, 2009

Posted by davidjdahl in Activity, Assessment, Feedback.
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How would you organize the library’s website? Four groups stepped up to answer this challenging question on Feb. 19th. Amongst the participants were students, faculty, and library staff, working in groups to organize 85 items (represented by notecards) that appear (or will appear) on the library’s soon-to-be-redesigned website into 4 or 5 categories. Simple enough, right? Turns out, it’s harder than it looks.

A group works to put all of their cards into categories

A group works to put all of their cards into categories

Participants were given approximately 40 minutes to organize the cards and assign a label to the categories into which they grouped the cards. Then, using colored stickers, they were given 20 minutes to indicate their confidence level that the card belonged in the category in which they placed it. I can’t wait to see what they came up with and share the results with everyone.

Participants begin the sorting of cards

Participants begin the sorting of cards

The library website committee, including myself, would like to express our deep gratitude to all those who participated in this not-so-easy activity. Participants engaged in thoughtful discussion during the process and were key to the events success. From what I heard, everyone enjoyed the process as well. (I suppose the free food may have had something to do with that.)

Wish you had participated???

Lucky for you, we’re not done getting your opinions, suggestions, and comments. We will be conducting more usability tests in March and April based on our initial prototypes of the website. If you’re interested in participating, drop me an email.

Until then, you are always welcome to post your comments on our blog.