I am just back from my annual SLA Conference <http://sla2011.tornado1.com/>. It was a great time, and I have many, many posts to write over the next few days. While I was gone, I had a graduate student that works for me, Michael Domeracki, take a look at some UX software and report back. It is a good insight into how a student might perceive software that pops up to help improve the user experience and get feedback.
This program works by asking participants to complete a series of tasks on a given website. After each task the user clicks a ‘task complete’ icon and the website measures the time it took to complete the task.
Loop11 is a very simple program to use from a user standpoint. That said, I did not see any opportunities for the user to make additional comments, however, I was only able to view an abbreviated model of the program so that may still be an option. This program would be much easier and much more systematic than individual interviews. It provides thorough feedback on site navigation that is organized and easy to read. Although the major rubric is ‘time’ which, admittedly, is important, it is not as comprehensive as one may like. I would prefer something that tallied total links clicked, options typed in text boxes, as information like that would be relevant and helpful for user-ability. I would recommend this as a complimentary program to another method in order to evaluate more than just the amount of time it takes for a user to complete a particular task. This will be good for measuring the navigation of a site, but does not address issues of cosmetics or organization. The instructions are created by the owner the website so they can be tailored as needed for specific issues or concerns.
Websort is a program which permits participants to categorize a series of words, ideas, or topics into broader collections. The program then tabulates theseresponsesand offers a rather in-depth analysis of the results, presenting the consensus votes for the organization of the given words.
In my opinion, the Websort program is a poor program for website analysis. It allows people to sort through a list into a variety of categories and titles and then tabulates the results. It just seems like a lot of work to both generate the list and then sift through the results. I would not recommend this product for website analysis or creation. I think this would be helpful for a small group attempting to prepare a presentation, booklet, or something along those lines where a basic level of organization needs to be developed by a number of people before more detailed work can be completed.
Ethnio is a program that intercepts users as they search through your site. When a user visits the website a ‘chat’ box opens up and asks the user to answer a series of questions. It effectively functions as a pop-up questionnaire that can be as specifically or broadly designed as needed.
I have not encountered this program specifically, but many websites employ similar programs. As a user, I hate pop-up programs like this, although I do recognize the value of the product. The ‘chat box’ which opens can explain the purpose of the questionnaire, “we are remodeling the website and your feedback is appreciated” so at least the user can understand the reason for the interruption. If the owner so desires, there can be incentives placed into the questionnaires so that participants can win cash, gift cards, or other prizes. The program will also tabulate the results and can even include demographic information so that the owner can distinguish between faculty, staff, student, men, women, ages, etc. Overall, I think this is a useful program and could be helpful, although as a user I caution against using it as it is intrusive and interrupts the user experience of the website – even if for a good cause.