OCLS Public Website Redesign: Usability Research

Mobile, Tablet, and Desktop views of various tools used in usability testing research

Project summary

To prepare for an entirely new public website for the Orange County Library System, I worked with the Digital Content team to:

  • form a group of community testers
  • ogranize, conduct, and analyze usability reasearch
  • communicate the results of this research to the public

This included fully auditing the content of the existing site, conducting card sorting, tree testing, and wireframe testing using the Optimal Workshop Suite, and writing emails to the beta tester group and blog posts for the project’s development blog in order to communicate results and updates about the project.

The project blog

My Role

This two year project involved significant collaboration among members of the Digital Content Team. First we selected the tools and processes used to manage the beta tester community group and conduct usability testing. I worked with other team members to select:

  • a medium for users to sign up for testing
  • a method for communication with the testers
  • a usability testing suite that would allow users to complete tests online
  • a place for the team to communicate test results and resulting plans to the public

We selected MailChimp as the medium for testers to sign up, and decided on weekly emails to communicate with the testers. The signup process included collecting demographic and library use data from the testers. In MailChimp I configured the mailing list, list variables, and templates. The team collaborated on creating the signup process using a custom HTML form that included authenticating the testers’ library accounts.

We crafted emails that would explain the tasks to testers and communicate the results after tests. Using Optimal Workshop we developed online usability tests - card sorting, tree tests, wireframe testing, and surveys. I was responsible for creating the wireframes used in the tests, which I adjusted after the results of each test. The team worked to analyze results and adapted plans for the new website’s architecture and navigation based on results.

As well as writing emails that were sent to testers, I also wrote blog posts about the findings so that the public would be able to read about the process on our development blog. These posts explained the tests we were conducting, the decisions made after analyzing the results, and included occasional project updates.