Week 6: Usability

Test website: http://www.maribyrnong.vic.gov.au/

Test environment: Library group study room.

Script:

Hi my name is Sian. I’ll be working with you in today’s session. Let me explain why we’ve asked for your assistance.
We’re here to find out how well Maribyrnong City Council website communicates information. Try to behave normally – look around, click links and so on at the same speed and with the same attention as usual. The only difference is we’d like you to think out loud. Don’t be all that concerned with the results – we’re testing the website, not you.  You may ask questions, but I’m not allowed to help you with the website – so I may not answer them. We want to know how it works with someone working independently.
To ensure you test out the features we’re interested in, I’ll ask some questions too. It’s important that you answer honestly. My only role here today is to discover strengths and weakness of the website from your perspective. During the test I need to know what you’re thinking.
While you’re working I will sit nearby and observe, another person will be taking notes and timings. There will not be any audio or video recording of this session.
Do you have any questions? (answer questions). Could you sign this nondisclosure agreement before we start? Ok, let’s go – to start with, could you tell me what area the Council is responsible for?

Feedback from question 1 (Where are the boundaries of Maribyrnong City Council’s district):

Person 1   -There’s a map on the front page – but I can only see that it’s west of the cbd. When I click the map nothing happens. Ok…about this city…size and suburbs… That’s a better map, but I still can’t click on it. (Did not notice the scroll bar – and therefore missed most of the maps).

Person 2  The address of the council main office is at the bottom of the front page next to a little map, but it doesn’t tell you the  boundaries. (got to size and suburbs page pretty quickly).  (scrolls down). Oh, a google map. I don’t understand how it shows the city – I guess it is centred on the middle of the city? But  I can only drag around and zoom in – I want it to give me a google map with the boundaries marked out – of the district and the wards and everything so then I can zoom in and out as I wish. I guess they need static maps because google might change their services? I’d still rather something dynamic.

Person 3  (went straight to ‘about the community’, ‘size and suburbs’, was happy enough with the maps on that page).

Question 2: Is there any sort of tourism opportunity in Maribyrnong? How does the council help promote it?

Person 1: Couldn’t see a search box then spotted the word ‘search’ at the top of the page. Searched for tourism. First two links looked good – tourism in maribyrnong, walking tours – last three seem irrelevant. The first result is the page which explains Council’s involvement in the Western Melbourne Tourism partnership and links to a bunch of external providers. Disappointed that there was no mention of highlights in the area (except ‘close to the cbd and docklands’) – what is good IN maribyrnong? do I have to go to external sites to find out?

Person 2 – wants a box that will search rather than having to go to a search page. Isn’t sure when they got to my target page – was expecting something more like a glossy brochure.

Person 3 – clicks on ‘more public notices, consultations’ on front page (links to a longer feed of news) – finds the walking tours. Oh, they have a whole variety of walking tours. Is this what you meant? No? …scroll up, click media centre – not right. Goes to Recreation – recreation strategy – nothing there either. Clicks through a few of the links on the left – finds Arts and Culture – variety of Council Supported Organisations – finds the search button at the top and gets to the intended page.

Summary/recommendations: The users were able to find the required information for question 1 (boundaries) reasonably easy but experienced a few frustrations: The map of victoria on the front page should link to something, whether it is to the ‘suburbs and size’ page or directly to a zoomed in map or a google map. Also, the maps on the map page were not clearly displayed at the top – instead most of the page was taken up by marketing stuff about why it’s a good place to live. On a low resolution it’s easy to miss the rest of the page. Consider combining these maps into a dynamic document (say with overlays for wards, overall boundaries, etc that you can turn on and off) with printable versions.

Question 2 was a bit too vague on my part – I should have maybe asked for a specific festival or something – but users didn’t know where to look for tourism, despite it being only ‘one level down’ under Economic Development. Everyone wound up at the search button at the top, but one expressed a preference for a box to type in ON the front page and a search button to run the search – rather than a distinct search page.

I wonder what Google Instant is going to do to people’s expectations…

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