My experience conducting a usability survey

72While taking the Information Architecture class at SLIS I conducted a user survey to determine the usability of the website I had created over the course of the semester. Because my website was a clearinghouse for primary source materials for the contributions of women scientist to the field of eugenics my website could be considered a limited digital library. I created a survey using the website SurveyMonkey. The survey consisted of 12 questions, most of the questions were free text designed to gather qualitative information about the features of my digital library. The questions involved issues concerning 1) how obvious was the purpose of the website? 2) How navigable was the website? 3) The graphical effectiveness of the text, layout, and links 4) Preferences concerning citation style of historical analysis. 5) Demographic questions designed to see if there are any trends in preferences for different academic interests or levels. I advertised my survey my emailing an explination and the link to SurveyMonkey to various professors of the History of Science and Women Studies, as well as posting the survey on my facebook page. Most of the respondents to my survey were my peers who had found the survey link on Facebook. I received a total of fourteen survey responses, the majority of which were critical about a number of the features of the website.  As a result of the survey I performed a major overhaul to the links, text layout, and color scheme of the website. I believe that the feedback I received helped me make a better website for the final project and I wish part of the assignment had involved getting feedback on our final websites.

If you want to look at the survey I wrote it is still available here:

I am not linking you to the website though, even as a final product it still looked like something GeoCities spat out lol.


4 responses to “My experience conducting a usability survey

  1. Since most of the respondents are librarians or librarians-to-be, the sample seems not representative enough, although the feedback are fruitful. Thanks for sharing your specific experience with survey.

    • I agree that my sample wasn’t representative of the likely user community. I actually found that getting responses from the history of science and/or gender studies researchers was the hardest part of the task. I think this illustrates that when an evaluation plan is made a large amount of thought needs to be put into how the representative user group can be contacted as well as a plan B for contacting users if the initial efforts don’t produce enough relevant responses.

  2. I vote to see the website! There is a lot of material out there that is pretty sensitive (or insensitive, depending on the context). I am wondering how you handled that aspect of your DL. For example, the creators of this site had to deal with personal information, sensitive racial ‘qualifiers’, and other very tricky details.

  3. How important is a representative sample when you are looking primarily for feedback to improve your site? I mean, it’s not a clinical drug trial, where you are passively gathering data, right? So the fact that you got info from 14 librarians who are trained in the art of crappy-website detection seems like a boon.

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