Prototype Observations II

Searching for a Book

One observation that was pretty interesting was how a person looked for a book about turtles. Approximately two-thirds of the people who looked at the prototypes would just enter the word turtles into the search field on the home page and than clicked the submit button. The other one-third would select the link called ‘BearCat’ and after arriving at the new website they would enter the word turtles into the search box and select the submit button called ‘Go’. This sounds very simplistic with this description; However, if people chose to use ‘BearCat’ they had more difficulty completing the task than if they had just entered turtles in the search field and selected the submit button.

Some of the people that went to ‘BearCat’ seemed to be confused when they first arrived at the website. As stated above part of the confusion was that the website looks different from the prototype even though it is one of the services that the libraries provides. The second part that tripped people up was that there is a drop down list that appears just above the search field and another one that appears just to the left of it. One person clicked on the drop down menu and saw several options and than asked me what they meant. Once again, I had to reluctantly not answer their question to get quality feedback. The other part that made things difficult for some people is that the submit button in BearCat, which is named ‘Go’ does not appear right next to the search field My impression is that most people that choose to go to ‘BearCat’ new it was the libraries catalog and that it would allow them to search for items that were in the building.


The question “Are there currently any job openings available with the libraries?” caused some confusion for some people. About one-third of people went immediately to the FAQs web page to try and answer this question. This was not a surprise because the question seems like it would be a Frequently Asked Question. Another one-third went to a variety of different places that included Contact Us, Help, and Schedule an Appointment to try and find the answer to the question.

The last one-third of testers went to the About Us web page, which is where a person can get to the Employment web page. Even the testers who went to the About Us web page had some difficulty in answering the question. After arriving on the web page not all testing participants saw the link for ‘Employment’ and went to the Site Map page next to try and locate employment.

The navigation on the About Us page in prototype A currently looks like:

It was interesting talking to people after they found the answer to the question because when they made it the About Us page they said that they did not see the ‘Employment’ link on it. All of the testers eventually found the Employment web page except for one person. This person said that they would just call one of the libraries to find out if there were any job openings.


By keeping things simple makes it easier for a person to use a website. The goal was to test the prototypes; However, it revealed several problems with other websites and services that the libraries makes available to people. The new College Libraries website will allow a person to get to things they need; However, I am not convinced that when they leave the libraries website that they will be able to accomplish their tasks. In order for people to be successful the other websites and services that the libraries subscribe to will need to be updated. On one hand, some of them can be updated, but some can not be changed. The saga continues….