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Los Medanos College Web Redesign :: recommendations:: Usability Summary and Recommendations http://www.losmedanos.edu/test It takes only five users to uncover 80 percent of high-level usability problems. Jakob Nielsen

Purpose

January 16, 2010

The purpose of our test sessions was to gauge the usability and ease of navigation of the newly designed web site for specific target audiences, namely current, future students and faculty and staff. During the month of November and December 2010 I tested the new site with 25 people pulled from the defined audience groups. I administered an entrance and exit survey before and after each test, and asked their permission for notes to be taken and used for datagathering purposes. Users were asked to complete at least 14 tasks read aloud to them. The goals were to determine what is or is not working successfully on the new site from the users’ perspective. I looked for information such as: ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Do users complete each task successfully? If so, how fast do they perform each task? Is that fast enough to satisfy them? What paths do they take in trying? Do those paths seem efficient to them? Where do they stumble? What problems do they have? Where do they get confused? What words or paths are they looking for which are not on the site?

After each session, I included an open-ended general discussion period where users could share their thoughts on any aspect of the site or testing with me.

Description of methodology Think-Aloud Protocol I employed a task-based think-aloud protocol, in which I asked users to communicate their thought processes verbally while they worked. I asked them to vocalize what path they took to find information, what questions they had, and what surprised or confused them as they went through the site. I kept questions open-ended and neutral, such as “What do you mean by that?” or “What did you expect to happen?” When users identified a problem, I asked them how they would fix it. I observed body language and facial expressions as well as eye movement as they navigated the site.


Test environments: Test subjects most often used a Dell computer with a screen resolution of 1024 x 786. A few were tested on tiny PC laptops and one on Mac. The site was created using a Macintosh computer. Most subjects were tested on Windows IE, one on an old version of IE and one on Firefox for the Mac.

Demographics:

Status

HS Student

HS Student

HS Student

HS Student

HS Student

HS Student

HS Student

HS Student

Yrs using the web

5

12

7

12

10

8

10

6

Age Group

Sex M

Deer Valley High small laptop

M

Deer Valley High small laptop

F

Antioch High – Library Lab

F

Antioch High – Library Lab

F

Antioch High – Library Lab

F

Antioch High – Library Lab

F

Pittsburg High – Robotics Lab

M

Pittsburg High – Robotics Lab

14-17

14-17

14-17

18-24

18-24

18-24

14-17

18-24

Test location


HS Student

7

14-17

LMC student (tutor)

20

25-34

LMC student (tutor)

17

M

Pittsburg High – Robotics Lab

M

Computer lab

F

CORE 4th floor cubical

35-44

LMC student (student worker)

6

18-24

LMC student

6

18-24

M

Mesa Lab

LMC student

5

18-24

M

Mesa Lab

LMC student (DSP&S)

F CORE 4th floor cubical

F 10

35-44

DSP&S lab M

LMC student (tutor)

10

25-34

LMC student (teaching assistant)

10

Over 55

LMC student

10

18-24

Classified Staff

Center for Academic Support

M

17

CORE 4th floor cubical M

Mesa Lab

F

CORE 4th floor cubical

F

Scholarship office

45-55

Classified Staff

10

35-44

Manager

10

25-44

F

Her office

Dean

17

35-44

F

Her office

Full time Faculty

17

45-55

Counselor

17

35-44

Part time faculty

M His office F

Her office

M 17

45-55

His Office


Strengths and Weaknesses Strengths Overall, users felt the redesigned site was easy to use and could enhance the image of LMC. Specifically, users said: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

“Neat and clean” “Very streamlined” “Feels like a university” “Very well organized” “Love the colors and columns!” “Like the graphics” “Like the committees all in one area” “Liked that you see everything that is there with the menus”

“I really like that you have a button for current students” “Subheadings make it easier”

Weaknesses Users provided wonderful feedback for improving the redesigned LMC web site. The following items noted during the feedback sessions ● ● ●

● ● ● ●

Missed all the links in the black bar at the top of the page demonstrating the much documented “banner blindness” Some said the terminology such as “people finder” and “special academic programs” was confusing to them. For unknown reasons many spent time in the Alumni & Donors and Business & Community tab looking for things that had nothing to do with either topic. I do not know if this is because of the location of center screen or mere curiosity of what is there. When asked the web surfers could not verbalize what drew them to those links except that three high school students did no know what the word “alumni” meant. For items that “media services” checks out many people looked under the heading of computing and searched for IT support. Not sure how to make this clearer. Several requests for a “forms” page on faculty and staff Many requests for a “contact us” button. Some faculty went to the “academic dates” link versus the “district calendar”. One faculty member felt strongly that district calendar should not be located under Events & News because it’s neither a news or an event.


Menu Color preference

When polled after having a chance to use both drop down menus to find items on the new website 16 people preferred the black with white type and 11 preferred white with black type. Of those polled more adults preferred the white with black type 4 to 3 with young people preferring the black with white type 13 to 7. When viewed on a Mac iMac the white menu appears to have greater contrast however when viewed on a Dell monitor (the majority of test subjects) the black menu appears to have greater contrast even with one subject who had low vision. Of those that chose one color preference over the other most did not have a strong feeling for either one and stated that they could read either one but felt that the black had better contrast.

High Priority Recommendations (Items in this section can significantly improve the usability of the of the new LMC website)

Rename Faculty handbook to handbook for faculty This is confusion for those that are looking for contact information for a faculty member. Peoples eyes flow from left to right so people see the faculty handbook before they see the faculty and staff directory and they click on that first and get lost. Add a “contact us” button Having a contact us page is an industry standard that people tend to look for and we no longer have this on our top-level pages. To find a directory is somewhat of a tough task now. Current and future students especially click on “faculty and staff” to find a staff person and then look for a “contact us” link. Add orientation link to current students tab Currently it’s listed on the future students tab but some students click on current students thinking they are now a current student so it must be there. Black bar is wasted space Banner blindness is very apparent with this black bar. Out of all subjects tested only a one looked at this top bar when prompted. The audience tabs are very prominent and this where people focus their attention thinking all-important content should be there. ● Solution one is to move content just above the buttons ● Solution two remove black bar and put the content in the drop downs. One person said they ignored it because he thought it was just a graphic element. ● Solution three locates some of the black bar content under the search box. Many people did see the search box so perhaps if it’s located close to this. The problem with this is that there are so many links already there and some of them are already located in the quick links button. ● Solution four to shrink the large banner buy a third and locate the getting around links there. Not the most ideal since the home page is the only page those links would then be listed.


Add a “Forms” link to faculty and staff pages At least two people who did not know the leave request form would be located under the office of Instruction web page. I have started the process of brainstorming how this one could be created and maintained. Human Resources page confusing More than one member of faculty and staff clicked on the human resources link looking for a vacation leave request form. They thought that the HR link was the one for LMC but LMC does not have a web page so we are linking to the district office HR. The district office however does not house these forms so the web surfer is now lost on the district site and frustrated. Solution may be to create an intermediary page between the district office HR and the LMC HR by stating a little of what to find at LMC HR and perhaps a link to the soon to be created forms page and a link to district HR for all other services. Swap “events & News” with “about us” Since the faculty and staff page has six columns the “about us” column goes before the fold on old computers or ones with really small screens. The about us column has more relevant links for faculty and staff than events and news. Orientation should be listed on both current and future student menus Most students chose “future students” so sign up for orientation however a few chose to find it under current and couldn’t. Technically by the time they qualify to attend orientation they have already been accepted as a current student.

Second Priority Recommendations

(These recommendations do not greatly enhance the usability of the new site. They can be considered if there is time, otherwise they will be implemented after the site has gone live and ongoing development and maintenance is being conducted. ● ●

There was a request for more resources for Spanish speaking students and their families. Confusion on what inSite is. Some thought it was a calendar. Some thought it was the contact us link. Some thought it was their online classes. It’s a big graphic on the page so it draws more attention than the links they are actually looking for. Eventually inSite should provide all these things so perhaps having this here is fine. Things that should be cross-linked in other areas should be built so they are easily found no mater what path a person takes. For example people chose many different routes to find the Honors Program (special academic programs, degrees and certificates, areas of study, college catalog, clubs and programs, extended opportunities and programs, learning communities etc.). Care should be given to think how one might search for a term that is not listed outright on the main menus.


Web usability study