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* Wednesday, September 6, 2006

ALA Website Usability Survey

The ALA Website Usability Survey is now live. Anyone and everyone can fill it out, which I heartily encourage you to do. For all of us that have ever rolled our eyes and complained about the website, it's time to put our money where our mouth is and formally provide constructive criticism. The survey will be available for the next month.

Here's an excerpt from the email ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels sent to ALA members.

"We are currently conducting a usability assessment of our ALA website. This assessment is designed to take a very thorough look at the website, its problems and strengths, in order to guide ongoing improvements, development, and redesign.

The usability assessment includes interviews of major stakeholder groups, an online survey, hands-on usability testing, complaint and web log analyses, focus group discussions, and heuristic analysis (expert review of the site based on generally agreed-upon principles of usability). It began in July of 2006 and is expected to conclude late October 2006. UserWorks, a Maryland consulting firm, will conduct many of the assessment activities....

The survey is not intended to be a statistical assessment instrument, but is intended to allow users to express themselves on the topic of the website. The survey will be open to everyone who visits the website while it is up. Part of the purpose of the survey is to find out who our users are, so we will also ask some demographic questions such as membership in the association, library usage, etc. Response to these demographic questions will, of course, be voluntary.

The survey includes questions used the last time we did an online survey in order to provide like comparisons. There will be new questions as well, designed to determine user awareness of some of the newer features available on or through the website (blogs, wikis and RSS feeds, for example). The survey will also include questions borrowed from Digital Equipment Corporation's 'System Usability Scale' questionnaire, which has proven to be quite useful in assessing usability since its creation in 1986.

...Questions and comments about the survey or the usability assessment in general may be directed to Rob Carlson, Web Development Manager, at rcarlson@ala.org."

I want to emphasize that ALA staff were not allowed to modify the second half of questions in the survey in order to allow the results to be compared to national results done with the same questions. It's a standard and well-known usability test, even though several of us would have like to at least re-word a few of the questions.

Please fill out the survey and help ALA move forward with the website!

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