The kind folks who run the Carterette Series Webinars for the Georgia Library Association invited me to do a presentation on usability testing basics. I just finished up an hour ago and wanted to share my slides as soon as possible. The webinar recording will be archived and freely available soon (check the archived sessions page). In the meanwhile, here are my slides:
If you want to see my slides with my notes, you can get the original PowerPoint slides, too.
During the presentation, I read aloud from a script we used this past January when we were testing a draft of the library website. Here’s that script:
First of all, we’d like to thank you for coming. Before we get started, I’m going to start a recording here so that we can document this session. Please don’t worry, as this session will be kept private and you’ll remain anonymous.
[Test moderator hits CTRL-F8 on the laptop keyboard to start the audio and screen recording]
As I mentioned earlier, we’re in the process of redesigning the library web site. In order to make it as easy to use as possible, we’d like to get some input from the people who will be using it. And that’s where you come in. We’re going to ask you to perform a very simple exercise that will give us some great insight into how we can make this web site easier to use.
I want to make it clear that we’re testing the site, not you. You can’t do anything wrong here. We want to hear exactly what you think, so please don’t worry that you’re going to hurt our feelings. We want to improve it, so we need to know honestly what you think.
As we go along, I’m going to ask you to think out loud, to tell me what’s going through your mind.
If you have questions, just ask. I may not be able to answer them right away, since we’re interested in how people do when they don’t have someone sitting next to them, but I will try to answer any questions you still have when we’re done.
Do you have any questions before we begin?
[initial questions for the test subject]
Before we begin the exercise, I’d like to ask you a few quick questions:
What year are you in school?
Approximately how many times have you used the library web site? (sample responses: several times a day, once a day, once a week, once a month, less than once a month)
Can you give me a list of 3-4 things you would expect to find or be able to do on the library’s website?
What type of information or services have you looked for or used on the library web site?
Is there any information or services you have had trouble finding on the library site?
OK, great. We’re done with the questions and we can begin the exercise. Here’s how it works. First, I’m just going to ask you to look at the home page of the test library website and tell me what you think it is, what strikes you about it, and what you think you would click on first.
And again, as much as possible, it will help us if you can try to think out loud so we know what you’re thinking about.
[Test moderator opens browser to test page]
OK. Is there anything that interests you on this page that you might click on?
Before you click, can you tell me what you expect to find when you click on the link?
[after clicking] Did you find what you expected?
[Three main tasks that test subject will complete]
I’m going to ask you to try to complete some tasks using the test library site. Please keep in mind that some of the interior pages of the library site don’t have all the text or links that ultimately will. And as you can see from the library home page, there are some open spaces that we haven’t put content into yet.
[First task; make sure the browser is back to the home page]
OK, beginning at the library home page, pretend that you want to know what the hours are for the library next week. Where would you go to find that information?
Great. OK, now let’s say that you’ve checked out a book that is due back soon. You’d like to extend the loan period. Can you see a way to use the library site to help with that?
Great. Now let’s say that you want to find a textbook titled “Brief Calculus.” Can you see a way to do that?
Thank you so much for your time. Your help today is going to be fed right back into our redesign efforts.
[Test moderator presses CTRL F9 on the laptop keyboard to stop the audio and screen recording]
Please feel free to reuse this script without attribution.