The Role of Usability Evaluation in the Process of Media Management. In focus: Helsinki Library Website (HELMET)
Shumova, Varvara (2017)
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 Finland
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The present research pertains to the field of Web Usability. Specifically, the usability of Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries (Helmet) website was studied from users’ perspec-tive, with a focus on user needs, user experience, navigation paths and tools. The research questions were formulated as follows: 1) how well informed is the public about online and offline services offered by the Helmet Library? 2) how do the users navigate and search for information on the website? 3) in what ways may the website be improved to enhance user experience? A mixed method was applied, relying on both qualitative and quantitative data. First, a pilot survey was conducted to explore what people know about library services, and which services they use or are interested in (50 respondents an-swered 23 questions). Based on the survey results, a usability testing with an eye-tracker, followed by post-test interviews, was conducted. In the eye-tracking part, the method of critical tasks performance was used: each participant was asked to complete five tasks specific for the Helmet website, for example, “Find e-book instructions”. The pilot survey results showed that while some of library services were well known and important for the respondents, there were also services unknown to most respondents. Based on the data from the eye tracking testing, common navigation paths were found. We also identified the most used and the most seen navigation tools, and some common errors. The thematic analysis was used for exploring post-test interviews’ material. We discovered some key themes. For example, the theme “Puzzling” included two main ideas of the participants: about the “overwhelming” nature of the Helmet website, and about the library meaning in the modern life of Helsinki. Based on all the findings, a number of recommendations were produced on how the website could possibly be improved. The navigation element “item search box” was found to be frequently used with errors, and its current realization should be revised. The E-library section and navigation inside it worked efficiently and did not require correction. It was recommended to re-build the Helmet homepage basing on the users’ key interests and tasks. Currently, there exists a tangible information gap between the Helmet library network and the citizens; it is worth to explore this gap fur-ther and to find ways to overcome it.