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Usability Toolkit

Mar - 22 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

I’ll admit this session was not what I was expecting! I went in thinking they’d point me to a bunch of tools for designing a usable website (something we don’t really have – well we do – but if you run it through Bobby we’d fail miserably – and our staff doesn’t even know every page we have – so how can our patrons?)

Okay, back on track – so this session was not actually about that – in fact I really only learned about one tool – affinity mapping – a very neat idea – but not something I’m going to be able to convince our patrons to participate in. Affinity mapping goes like this (if I undestand correctly)

  • First you grab all of the links from your homepage (or that you think should be on your homepage)
  • Second you put the titles of these links on individual pieces of paper (post-its, typed out and cut up – whatever)
  • Next you sit down a group of people (patrons and/or staff) and you ask them to sort these labels into categories
    • You tell the group that they don’t have to use every label
    • You tell them that they are allowed to create new ones if they think they are necessary
    • You have them mark their X favorite/most useful pages
    • You let them loose and see what they come up with.

There are a few problems with this method – and I know this because we all had to get up and create our own affinity maps – yep, that’s right, and interactive session. Problem 1 – you tell the users that they don’t have to use all links – but they probably will. Problem 2 – you tell the users to add their own suggestions – they probably won’t.

For this reason you have to be careful what links you provide the user with – because that’s probably the link you’re going to end up with.

Overall it was a fun session and it can be a fun exercise – one I think I’ll do with my staff – but probably not my patrons.

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