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Erin Rushton:

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Primo, Discovery, Heruristics, Usability, Usability Studies


In early 2012, a Usability Working Group (UWG) at the Binghamton University Libraries began conducting usability testing on the interface of its new discovery system, ExLibris’ Primo. To thoroughly test Primo, two approaches were developed: a heuristics study for library staff and a usability study for library library patrons.

Heuristic studies are an established means of usability testing but are generally underutilized in libraries. Heuristic studies are designed to identify usability problems with an interface. The studies are typically performed by a small set of evaluators (usually experts familiar with the system) who examine the interface, aided by a set of predetermined tasks, and judge its compliance with a recognized set of usability principles. Evaluators may also note additional usability concerns not covered by the principles.

Problems identified in the heuristics study are rated on a severity scale. The outcome of a heuristics study is a ranked list of usability problems within a system. Ideally, these usability problems should be fixed before the system is tested with additional users. After completion of the heuristics study, the UWG compiled the results and addressed the common themes that had been identified.

Next, a traditional usability study was conducted on students from departments across campus and at different points in their academic careers. The findings of the usability study were used to identify prevailing issues with the Primo interface; for example, use of facets, use of the search options, and students' interpretation of the results screens.

The combined results of these two tests were presented along with a discussion of the methodologies applied and the application of the results. We also discussed how the tests can be applied to other discovery systems and what other institutions can learn from performing a similar battery of tests on their systems.

Publisher Attribution

This presentation was given at Ex Libris Users Group of North America (2013)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.