Usability Testing With Citizens Ages 55+

As I referenced in my earlier post, I’ve been interested in working on usability testing with seniors on the Boston Public Library website.

Last summer I developed a questionnaire for seniors that asked them about their internet habits. We sent a link to this survey out though Age Strong in Boston, an organization dedicated to improving the life of Boston’s citizens 55 years or older. We used our social media accounts and a local church e-newsletter to promote the survey as well. We also included paper surveys at various library programs that were frequented by seniors, so that we could get respondents who may not feel comfortable taking a survey online.

In the survey we asked if people would be willing to participate in an in-person usability test session at our Central Library in Copley Square. Those who participated would get a $20 gift card. We got over 90 overall survey responses, and approximately 40 said they were interested in participating in the in-person session. Of those 40, we invited 16 to come in person.

Our participants ages ranged from 56 to 78. We also made sure to include a wide variety of people based on their reported internet activities and the frequency they engaged in these activities. When participants arrived, we introduced them to the process and ran through a set of seven tasks. Whoever was administering the test was also observing them and taking notes on their behavior.

Our analysis of the results showed that over 90% of participants were able to complete five or more tasks out of seven, and 69% of participants were able to complete six or more tasks out of seven. Still, ideally all participants would be able to complete all seven tasks. The test revealed areas of confusion on our website. The following recommendations are our suggestions to improve our website for older adults:

  • Create a dedicated page for seniors that is separate from the Never Too Late program page, to allow seniors to more easily find relevant content outside of the Never Too Late group (Already Completed)
  • Recommend changes to our vendor on the event platform to make the filter options more visible, and to make the language consistent to prevent confusion
  • Recommend to our vendor changes to the catalog interface to clarify language on the search results to make it less confusing
  • Recommend to our vendor explanations on card taxonomy displays to clarify where taxonomy links take the user
  • Update the catalog search no results found page to help users who accidentally searched our catalog for something that is on our website or events platform (Already Completed)
  • Recommend to our vendor to make the carets in the search dropdown menu more visible, so users are conscious of additional search options other than the default catalog search
  • Look into additional ways we can provide information about frequent frustrations on our website

To learn more about our findings, read the Usability Testing with Older Adults Report.

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