Assessment Update – Libraries’ Website Usability Study, Spring 2016

Patricia L. Gregory, Assistant Dean for Library Assessment

When the library websites were redesigned in 2014, the Pius/Medical Center Libraries Assessment Committee conducted a website usability study to elicit feedback from users on how to make the website design clear and easy to use. In March, 2016, after two years of usage, the Assessment Committee revisited this project by organizing another website usability study with 62 faculty, graduate and professional students, undergraduates, and staff members volunteering as participants in one of ten sessions.

The participants were asked to use the library websites (lib.slu.edu) to complete eight questions identified as common library queries. Software recorded their responses to the questions. The committee studied the recordings of mouse movements and responses to determine the ease of navigability and to see if any improvements in design were needed. Data indicates that most of the participants believed that they had few to no problems navigating to information they needed. Overall satisfaction with the websites indicates that the 2014 redesign was effective and continues to work well for information seekers. As a result of this follow-up study, the web designer made two minor design changes for searching journals on the Pius website and added more places with Medical Center librarians’ subject areas to the MCL website. It was a positive experience to test the usability of these library websites, especially observing the participants carrying out the tasks and reading their comments about the websites being visually appealing and well-organized.

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