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Unpublished Paper
Metalib Usability Test - Think Aloud Protocols
Carnegie Mellon University Libraries (2006)
  • Carole A. George, Carnegie Mellon University
Introduction. Usability testing using think aloud protocols was conducted on the MetaLib, a new product that provides the option to search multiple databases, catalogs, indexes, and other resources, soon to be offered by the university libraries. The object of the testing was to find problems users might experience using the MetaLib site in order to improve site usability. Method. Volunteers responded to an email request on the university online bulletin board and completed an online demographic questionnaire. Based on responses to the questionnaire, eight volunteers, diverse with respect to affiliation, discipline, gender, language, and computer expertise, were selected to participate. Guided by a moderator and observed by a member of the MetaLib Implementation Group, they completed real-world tasks using the MetaLib interface while verbalizing their thoughts. At the end of the session each participants completed a questionnaire and answered three open-ended items. Analysis. Transcripts of the sessions were analysed by tasks to determine problems and difficulties with the interface and to record comments and suggestions. A task completion rate was computed based on the number who completed the tasks correctly. Results. In general, the site performed fairly well, however the usability testing revealed one critical issue related to the usability of the site—problems with the log in. Other issues included problems with primary and secondary navigation; confusing terminology, e.g., Cross Search and SFX; inconsistency with the site design and user expectations in Basic Search and Cross Search; confusion deleting items; and bugs in the site. Recommendations. The issues identified are addressed individually on a prioritised basis to be determined by the MetaLib Implementation Group with a focus on log in, terminology, and icons; are issues that are the responsibility of the developers are reported to them. Training, tutorials, and quick guides (print or online) need to be considered to facilitate learning of the more advanced features.
  • website evaluation,
  • usability testing,
  • evaluation,
  • federated search,
  • multi-resource search,
  • think aloud protocol,
  • library,
  • higher education,
  • digital interface,
  • website,
  • user-friendly,
  • website design
Publication Date
June, 2006
Citation Information
Carole A. George. "Metalib Usability Test - Think Aloud Protocols" Carnegie Mellon University Libraries (2006)
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