Thursday, 30 June 2011

Aims and Objectives: LocateME usability case study

Aims and objectives
Goal: To enhance the Library’s integrated resource discovery environment, locally branded as LOCATE, enabling it to operate effectively across a range of mobile devices. The usability analyses undertaken through this project will provide an evidence informed case study of the development of benefit to the wider community.

To successfully meet this goal, the project has a number of objectives which fall into two broad groups: those relating to product enhancement and those relating to the process of usability testing.

Product Development
i. Assess the usability of the current desktop version of LOCATE as accessed via the selected mobile devices and experienced by different stakeholder groups
ii. Develop a device independent mobile view for LOCATE as informed by the findings of usability testing
iii. Evaluate the use of the new interface to assess whether user experience has improved

iv. Trial and evaluate approaches to usability testing as applied to mobile devices
v. Provide an evaluative case study to JISC USP focussed on the use and usability of mobile devices

Success Measures
i. A mobile interface is developed for Locate with increased usability over the desktop version when used on a mobile device. This will be measured by comparison of baseline testing with summative testing following rapid development phase.

ii. Case study utilises a range of usability testing methods focussing on practical usage in a rapid development environment. We will report on the appropriateness and relative value of the approaches taken in achieving the end result as development and testing progresses

Our focus in delivering LOCATE to our users is to provide them with an effective service which they are able to use and is ‘usable’ on a variety of devices. By measuring the relative increase in usability from the desktop version to a prototype mobile version, we ensure that the development is customer-driven. Ultimately, the user is the arbiter of our success in this regard. In order to support achievement of this goal, we need to carefully select appropriate usability testing approaches that will maximise the benefits of a user-focussed development.

We will baseline current performance by conducting a ‘cognitive walkthrough’, based on a set of agreed personas, in addition to conducting group testing during the initial phase. Summative testing following development will be used to compare usability of the service post-development and thus provide a measure of success.

The measures outlined focus on the user experience of the site on a mobile device. This will demonstrate effectiveness and value of the development of specific mobile environments and the impact they have on the users.

An alternative approach could have been to carry out a purely persona-based approach to baseline and development phases, however this would have led to the team making ‘assumptions’ based on how we feel users would use the site without supporting evidence from users themselves.

A further alternative would have been to carry out a comparative analysis of features of sites that are considered to have successful mobile environments and indentify common elements where their mobile interface differs from their standard desktop offering. Development could then take place by similarly identifying where like elements in LOCATE could be suitable adjusted or changed. Although there is considerable value in this scoping exercise, it could very quickly become time consuming and superfluous given that richer data can be sought from the user themselves.

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