Fortunately the web team had prepared some new templates to drag us into the mobile enabled world so we had a pretty good idea of what the website could do and the limitations.
So I asked students what they wanted….
“A website that gives us a job” was the overall response from the focus group.
We know students are focussed on the end goal and tend to miss out on the stages in between and this was held up by the focus group. They tended to dive into the vacancy database and ignore the whole website. (Groans!)
Basically they don’t want to read reams of information unless it’s the information they need. This is why everyone googles – why bother reading the bits of the website you don’t need!
It was suggested we produce content for year groups to talk to the students at their level. Not as simple as you might think as people take decisions and need to know things at different speeds. BUT we implemented it.
The university style
Changed overnight a few months after we produced the beta version of the new website. Our templates can not replicate this style of website but we can make it look a bit closer to it by changing some navigation on the home page.
Information and guidance staff use the website in 1-1 interactions with students and they tend not to always be intuitive users, they learn where information lives and how to get there. Like driving the same route to work each day – changing the route tends to invoke panic. So making any changes was not going to be popular.
So on to usability testing
We produced a beta version based on all the needs above and asked some usability testers to take a group of students and evaluate their experience.
It was pretty much what I expected – that doesn’t mean it was good, just expected!
- Too much information
- Change to action based navigation not year groups.
- Change the names of things.
- and a whole load of things that are not possible to implement in the templates we have.
So what next…
- Draft a new beta version based on student requirements and the new university style.
- Back to staff with some questions. Turns out they all have different opinions, fine, that’s representative of the general population.
- Try to find a middle ground around what most staff and students want.
- Short consultation period via email (by now i’m pretty sure everyone is sick of it!)
- Make the changes on the live website and wait….
and then what?
- Monitoring usage using google analytics
- Looking at SEO
…. but in the mean time before we all get too obsessed 5 tips for librarians using web metrics is a good place to start!