As we mentioned at the end of the summer, MeL engages in reiterative usability testing to improve the MeL and MeLCat experience. Sean Cwiek, Kathy Kosinski and Sonya Schryer Norris recently completed a study and are in the process of implementing the results as approved by the MeL management team. We worked at Jackson District Library (thank you to Sara Tackett, Liz Breed and the staff and patrons of JDL!!) and with non-patrons in Lansing. We spent more than 17 hours watching and recording as people engaged with MeL and MeLCat. There were several important results that will impact MeL that we'd like to share with you.
One patron noted: “This is going to sound stupid but the advanced search makes no sense. I would think maybe I could come here to narrow down my search but I would be so frustrated.” Another said: “It's not very friendly. I have no idea what Boolean is. Format doesn't make any sense here.” One person simply looked at the page and said: “Now I'm lost and I want to call the library. I'm serious. I'm going to have to hit the back button or reset the search.”
Advanced Search is like a voodoo siren call to some users but it consistently underperforms for the general public.
We asked users about their faith in the MeL search box and almost all said they would have used it on their own to obtain books but only 29% said they would have stuck with it for non-book related information seeking. This speaks to the value that subjects place on finding books they can borrow at no charge and the relative difficulty of more generalized information-seeking in Encore.
Brought to you by Deb Renee Biggs and Sonya Schryer Norris, Library Consultants at the Library of Michigan
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