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.

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What I’m Working On/Reading: July 2019

It’s been a while since I posted, but this is the first time I’ve had some free time to sit down and think about things I want to say or share.

When I did usability testing for the redesign of the Boston Public Library website last year, we found that seniors had the most difficulty using the new website. At the time, we didn’t have time to explore much into it. We made the edits we needed based on their feedback, but I wanted to revisit this. Seniors tend to be the demographic group with the most difficulty with technology, and changes. However, they’re also a significant part of the population. I want to make sure as we look forward, we aren’t leaving them behind. Now, we finally have the time to work on this project, so here are a few things I’m reading as I think about how I want to approach this.

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How to Do Usability Testing Without a Budget

This post is about doing usability testing on a website for a public library, without a budget for usability testing, or any extra software beyond a simple survey tool and Google Analytics.
 
So, to start at the beginning, my team completely overhauled our old library website design, and for good reason(s):
 
  1. It looked very outdated, because it was basically a lightly modified version of the website we created in the early 2000s.

a. It was all static HTML pages for the most part.

 

2. The design wasn’t responsive, making it a headache for patrons on mobile or tablet devices, and for staff members trying to help users on mobile or tablet devices.

3. Certain parts of the website were not accessibility compliant.

 
Those are the biggest reasons for the switch, but as you can imagine, there were a lot of reasons to do it.

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