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Usability Testing

A Practical Guide for Librarians

Rebecca Blakiston

Do you want to improve the usability of your library website, but feel that it is too difficult, time-consuming, or expensive? In this book, you will learn that in-house usability testing on a budget is not only feasible, but it is practical, sustainable, and has the potential to lead to remarkable improvements of the content, design, and layout of your website.

Usability Testing: A Practical Guide for Librarians will teach you how to:

  • Make the case for usability testing
  • Define your audience and their goals
  • Select a usability testing method appropriate for your particular context
  • Plan for an in-house usability test
  • Conduct an effective in-house usability test
  • Analyze usability test results and make decisions based on those results
  • Create and implement a plan for ongoing, systematic usability testing

Step-by-step instructions, along with a myriad of examples, allow you to use this book as a practical guide, and adapt the techniques for your own context. Techniques are appropriate for libraries of all types, including academic, public, and special libraries.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 148Size: 8 1/2 x 11
978-1-4422-2899-3 • Paperback • September 2014 • $65.00 • (£44.95)
978-1-4422-2900-6 • eBook • September 2014 • $61.00 • (£42.95)
Rebecca Blakiston has been a librarian at the University of Arizona Libraries since 2008, and the website product manager since 2010. She provides oversight, management, and strategic planning for the library website, specializing in guerilla usability testing, writing for the web, and content strategy. She chairs a website steering group and meets regularly with staff from across the library to facilitate communication, training, and collaboration. She developed a process for in-house usability testing, which has been implemented successfully both within website projects and in an ongoing, systematic way.
Chapter 1: Why Usability Testing Matters
Chapter 2: Conducting Your Own Usability Testing
Chapter 3: Identifying Your Audience and Their Tasks
Chapter 4: Selecting a Method
Chapter 5: Planning a Usability Test
Chapter 6: Conducting a Usability Test
Chapter 7: Analyzing Your Findings and Making Improvements
Chapter 8: Ongoing Usability Testing
Chapter 9: Keeping Up the Momentum
About the Author
Usability Testing: A Practical Guide for Librarians is precisely what it sets out to be and exactly what library staff need in an age when strong user experience design is not only lauded but expected – a practical guide for librarians who realize aspects of their web interfaces aren’t working as well as they would like but aren’t sure what to do about it. Blakiston details the process of usability testing clearly, thoroughly and, most importantly, with librarians’ specialized needs and often limited resources in mind. A must-read for anyone committed to making library interfaces and websites more usable.
Emily Daly, Librarian for Education and Head of Assessment & User Experience, Duke University Libraries

Blakiston translates the usability testing literature into the language of library world, a world where sometimes the usability budget can only afford few candy bars and the most practical recruitment pool for test subjects is the traffic in your lobby. Her book lives up the promise of offering ‘a practical guide,’ walking you through the roles you need to fill, pitfalls to avoid, and showing ways to document data and reports. It helps you understand why it’s important to get started — or keep going — and not to worry too much about your lack of budget, staffing, and expertise. But it also challenges you to aim higher, beyond a few usability tests and toward a sustainable usability program.
Josh Boyer, Head, User Experience, North Carolina State University Libraries