I followed a shortened version of the test script for my usability tests, where I tested the Monterey Public Library. It is attached to this post right here test-script
The only difference is that I didn’t really ask people their internet habits or what websites they frequent because all the people I did this test with are people I know fairly well. Two of them are on the computer / internet 5+ hours a day, most days. The third is my dad, who is actually not a big computer user, and fairly computer illiterate so I figured asking him would be a good contrast. His favorite website is Google News. He’s on the computer no more than an hour a day, probably less than that.
Here’s the actual usability questions that I asked people:
1) You are planning a vacation to Switzerland and want to discover the sights while you are there. You have decided that you want a book that will explain what is available while you are there. Please explain what you would do to find books that would help with this task.
2) You have a book that is coming close to being due and you would like to renew it. Please explain what you would do to renew this book.
3) When outside the library, you are wanting to ask someone who works at the library a question. Please explain what you would use on the website to ask this question.
The first person who I asked is a friend of mine who is a grad student in a PhD program for Teaching in a Spanish and Portuguese Graduate School. The second person was my dad, as I mentioned earlier. The final person I asked is a friend who is the leader of the local writing group that I joined a while ago.
My observations? The interesting thing I observed is that my friend who is the PhD student came up with pretty much the precise answers I was looking for, although she did access them in precisely the same route I used personally.
For the first question, my dad found a LibGuide on travel bags that I didn’t even know was on the library’s website. He then pointed to a book from an external link rather than finding a book from the library catalog as I had intended the test to be. Another tester, the writing group leader friend, refused to look for a book on Switzerland altogether and said she prefers looking in internet forums and other websites for traveling resources, thinking that books go out of date too quickly.
Everyone found the renew link one way or another without any trouble.
My writing group leader friend posted a different link than the other two people for my third and final question on asking someone at the library a question. It is, however, a valid link to answer this question, as it is a staff directory with phone numbers. I don’t see the reference desk phone number on this list, but there are multiple librarians on the list, so it would work, but would perhaps not be a straightforward as calling the reference desk directly.
Observing this usability test itself was very revealing to me. The fact that one of my testers basically said she wouldn’t look for a book and said here’s what she’d do instead surprised me, but her approach is definitely a valid alternative approach for finding travel resources.