Re-launch of improved SuSanA website just around the corner - putting results from UX (user experience) study into action

  • muench
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Results from SuSanA Platform Usability Study - now available for your comment

We recently got a Usability Study for the SuSanA platform (mother website and forum) done, using the User Experience Centre (USC) at Bentley University in Boston, USA.*

Please take a moment to browse through their report detailing the findings and recommendations in the attachment. I also attach the moderator's guide which was used in the 1-hour sessions where the 12 participants (representing a range of different characteristics) had to perform certain tasks and think out loud while they did them.

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Based on these results we are now planning some quite big changes to the SuSanA mother website, and - to a lesser extent - also to the forum website (note the forum website is getting a new look by end of April anyhow as we are upgrading it to a new version of Kunena. It looks much better!)

We would be very keen to hear your feedback about the results from this study:
  • Do you agree with the issues that they discovered in terms of usability of the SuSanA website and forum website?
  • Do you agree with their recommendations?
  • Do you have further things to add?
I found the whole process very interesting. Have a look at the report if you want to learn more about how this usability study was done and what the results were.

And a big thank you to the 12 participants who spent 1-2 hours with the UXC team online plus the 80 or so SuSanA members who volunteered to take part in this after receiving an e-mail by me. Thank you very much!

If you are now wondering "why didn't I see that e-mail?", that's because we decided on certain criteria: it only went out to about 500 SuSanA members who had all made at least one forum post (but less than 100 posts) and who are from one of our Top-23 countries in the Global South in terms of number of SuSanA members. If you wonder which countries those are, then here is the list: forum.susana.org/forum/statistics?task=map .**

Looking forward to reading your feedback and engaging in further discussions on how to improve the usability of the SuSanA platform!

Regards,
Elisabeth


The rest of this post is meant to be a teaser and encourage you to open the attached document.

+++++++++
Copied from their report:

Study Goals

Evaluate www.Susana.org and www.forum.Susana.org to identify usability issues that may adversely affect user experience with the two websites, to inform the design of an interactive prototype representing the next iteration of the design.


From the executive summary:

Most participants indicated that they use the Forum website primarily and navigate to Forum by clicking a link in a weekly email update they receive on their email.

“I check the weekly reminders in the email first, and if I am interested in some discussions, then I go.”
“Whenever I receive notifications about forums in my email […], once a week, […] I go to the forum.”
“I’m usually starting from my email and if I am interested in that [points to a link in the email], I click the link and I go to the forum.”

Participants were inclined to use Search or Forum rather than use the site’s navigation to complete most tasks.

Some participants, however, had been unaware of the mother website’s content (such as Library, Regional Chapter, Working Group pages and Homepage content below the fold) until participating in the usability session.
“I never knew so many things out there [on the SuSanA website] now, [after the test] I know all these things.”

Key usability issues encountered by participants were associated with unintuitive filtering within Library and Projects making it difficult for site users to identify resources based on geographic location, working group, and user type.
"For me, using all the filters is difficult. I understand they want to put a lot of information but it's just too much to be able to deal with all the filter options.”

When asked to navigate around the Forum without using search and without following an email link, participants encountered a lot of usability issues using the Forum’s navigation


Method
  • Formative usability test of the current websites.
  • The main objective of a formative usability test is to identify usability issues, that can be fixed before the design is finalized.
  • The user-centered design process involves cycles of formative usability testing, like the one conducted for this project, followed by changes to the design which are based on the test findings, and testing of the new design.
  • It is recommended to implement design recommendations in prototypes of the new design, rather than make changes to the live website, while the design is still being refined.
  • When the process of refining is complete, the next step is to implement the changes live.
Participants
  • This type of evaluation involves a small sample size of target users.
  • This sample size allows identifying the most frequent issues that affect many users of the website, so that they can be fixed in the next iteration of the design.
  • This sample size does not allow to identify trends across genders, ages, and other participant characteristics.
  • All 12 participants were the actual users of the SuSanA platform.
  • Recruiting screener outlining key recruiting criteria was developed by Bentley and approved by SuSanA.
  • Third-party recruiter programmed the recruiting survey, which SuSanA emailed to target SuSanA users.
++++++++++++


* This was funded as part of the BMGF grant which we spoke about here: forum.susana.org/component/kunena/10-ann...l-knowledge-platform . I can only praise the UXC in the strongest possibly way: They were a sheer pleasure to work with, and if I needed any more work done on usability of websites I would not hesitate to use them again.

** Top-23 countries in the Global South in terms of SuSanA members:

Asia
Bangladesh
Cambodia
India
Indonesia
Nepal
Pakistan
Philippines

Africa
Burkina Faso
Cameroon
Ethiopia
Ghana
Kenya
Malawi
Nigeria
Rwanda
Senegal
South Africa
Tanzania
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Latin America:
Brazil
Mexico

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Community manager of this forum via SEI
(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )
Wikipedian, co-founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation

Location: Frankfurt, Germany
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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Results from SuSanA Platform Usability Study - now available for your comment

Dear Elisabeth,

Thanks for posting the results. It was nice to read, and I agree with most of it. I found it especially funny to realize how I have gotten used to some of the little quirks that the site has. Great also to see that the panel that was used to take the survey was so diverse!

As far as the results. I posted before that an upgrade of the library and its functions would be a priority for me. So it was nice to see that this did come up. Making the link between the forum and the library stronger is also a good idea in my view.

One thing I would really like to ask for. If the site is made such that the forum posts all appear in a "collapsed form" as suggested, please make a button that allows to show the thread as it appears now. I would not enjoy having to "open" each item in a thread individually.

Regards

Marijn

Marijn Zandee

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  • muench
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Re: Results from SuSanA Platform Usability Study - now available for your comment

Dear Marijn,

Thanks for your feedback! Indeed, we also felt that the library was very important and included using the library as one of the 6 tasks in the usability study. We found out that the way the library can be filtered does not seem to be intuitive enough. The filtering function, which is also used in the project database, is currently under discussion here:
forum.susana.org/component/kunena/279-kn...filter-options#21083

As to your second point:

If the site is made such that the forum posts all appear in a "collapsed form" as suggested, please make a button that allows to show the thread as it appears now

Point well taken. This is something that we can anyway only do if the new Kunena version allows it (I suspect it doesn't). Whereever possible, if we make a major change, we would let the users choose and customise how they would like to have it (e.g. currently, where the default is to see posts in chronological order - i.e. most recent at the end of the thread - but users can also change it to most recent posts at the start of the thread.

Is there any further feedback or reactions from other SuSanA members? Did any of the struggles that users reported also feel familiar to you?

One thing that can up again is the slow loading time of the SuSanA website and forum. For the SuSanA website we will remove the logo set which is currently on almost every page and slows down loading of the page. Hopefully this will help a bit.

Regards,
Elisabeth

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Re-launch of improved SuSanA website just around the corner - putting results from UX (user experience) study into action

Dear all,

Exciting news: An improved version of the SuSanA website will be launched very soon - hopefully by about 3 weeks from now!

We're currently working on it in the background and I can tell you already now, it will be a very nice new look and feel for the re-launched SuSanA website!

Why are we doing this now?

The user experience study (in short: UX study) which I had mentioned above in this thread had highlighted quite a few shortcomings with navigation and understanding of the website. These shortcomings we now hope to adress and rectify with the new version.

What are the main changes?

- A revamp of the SuSanA website front door, making it easier to use. E.g. some users had not realised that you could scrol down and find up-to-date information there; or they didn't know how to get to it from inside of the website.

- A new layout and so-called "mega menu structure" with four overlay pages which have the titles: Events, Knowledge hub, Community, Working Groups. With this we hope to address the problem that people couldn't easily find what they were looking for on the website, and that the existing menu structure had gotten increasingly cumbersome.

- An improved way of showing the filter options and filter search results which will apply equally to the library, project database and partners.

- A full integration with the SuSanA Discussion Forum, by using the same fonts, colours, styles and by making several links from the "mother website" to the forum. (We are also changing the font colour on the mother website, so there will be no more light green text for hyperlinks which was difficult to read.)

- Regional overview pages (collections)

- Personal library and favorites (personal collections)

- Better integration of map view with list view for project database, to see where your project and other projects are on the global map.

As we get closer to launch day, I will try to share with you some screenshots of the new version so that you get an idea what is going to happen.

If you have any comments at this stage, please feel free to post them here. And if you had a pet hate with the existing SuSanA website ( www.susana.org ), now is your chance to raise it and perhaps we can still consider it and include it in the upgrade!

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. If anyone wants to volunteer (unpaid) to help pre-testing the new website by looking at the developers' version together with us, please contact me by e-mail.

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Re-launch of improved SuSanA website just around the corner - putting results from UX (user experience) study into action

I hope this will fix the mobile menu.

How about RSS feeds for the calendar and the publication section?

A iCal link for the calendar would be nice too so that one can integrate it in one's calendar.

Last but not least, what about allowing people to log in with their HumanitarianID:
humanitarian.id/

Krischan Makowka
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  • muench
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Re: Re-launch of improved SuSanA website just around the corner - putting results from UX (user experience) study into action

Dear Kris,

Thanks for your feedback!
And yes, the new website version will have a proper mobile version to go with it (so called responsive design). That's really important. Thanks for pointing that out!

About RSS feeds: yes, the new Joomla 3.7 supports that in a better way. André (from Dotwerkstatt, our IT company) told me we can include that in the upgrade.

About the iCal link, I assume you mean that one would go to the events section and if one likes an event one can click on "put into my calendar" and it would get into your Outlook calendar? I would find that a very useful thing to have. André said it will be possible with the new, redesigned events calendar that we will be getting. So that's great.

About the Humanitarian ID. André didn't give me an answer on that one yet. Presumably because he didn't know if this would really add much value. Could you expand on what you have in mind there? It would be the same login name and password for several websites, I guess? Which ones? Are you already using it on several websites? Could be a little tricky to synchronise member databases and also have all security issues covered. Could you tell us more about that one?

Greetings,
Elisabeth

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Re-launch of improved SuSanA website just around the corner - putting results from UX (user experience) study into action

muench wrote: About the Humanitarian ID. André didn't give me an answer on that one yet. Presumably because he didn't know if this would really add much value. Could you expand on what you have in mind there? It would be the same login name and password for several websites, I guess? Which ones? Are you already using it on several websites? Could be a little tricky to synchronise member databases and also have all security issues covered. Could you tell us more about that one?


Yes, a common login ID, similar to how many websites offer to login with your facebook or twitter account. It also makes it easier to log in as you don't need to remember you login details, it just communicates directly with the HumanitarianID servers.
They recently relaunched their service to use the web-standard "OpenID Connect" to that makes it very easy to implement (there are some Joomla plugins and the "HybridAuth" library has build in support for HumanitarianID it seems).
So far it is mainly used by UN websites like www.humanitarianresponse.info and www.reliefweb.int but it is generally a useful service by UN-OCHA to manage your contact lists for humanitarian missions. I especially like that you can easily update your contact details (for example in mailing lists) and people can stay in contact by accessing your updated info through the HumanitarianID servers.

Last but not least, HumanitarianID is not run by one of those big data-mining companies like google or facebook, but is rather a non-commercial service offered by the UN.

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  • muench
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Re: Re-launch of improved SuSanA website just around the corner - putting results from UX (user experience) study into action

It sounds quite interesting and I checked with Steffen about the Humanitarian ID. He is doubtful that the effort of programming it would be worth it and thinks that only few people would use it. I would say let's keep an eye on it and see if it really takes off. If it does, we could still add it at a later stage. You said "it is rather a non-commercial service offered by the UN." What would happen if at some stage in the future the UN decides to stop that service, e.g. due to lack of funds?

As you also understand German I copy here his response in German which also goes into the technical details which I don't fully follow:

Für das erste würde ich sagen, zuviel Aufwand, da es nur ein ganz geringer Teil der User nutzen würde. Es gibt zwar Plugins für Joomla, das sind aber von Drittanbietern und die Foren sind voll, dass sie nicht reibungslos funktionieren. Ein Sicherheitsrisiko besteht außerdem. Zudem müsste die ganze Usersynchronisierung und Memberverwaltung angepasst werden, eine einfache Plugin Installation reicht da nicht, es muss ja alles irgendwie mit den SuSanA Account verknüpft werden. schon gar nicht in dem speziellen Fall. Es ist sicherlich irgendwie machbar, aber ob die Tage sinnvoll investiert sind?


Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • muench
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Re: Re-launch of improved SuSanA website just around the corner - putting results from UX (user experience) study into action

So, it took a bit longer than planned (like most IT projects) but I am happy to share with you today a sneak preview (or beta version) of the new upgraded SuSanA website. The launch of the upgraded website is just around the corner; we hope to have it done by the SuSanA meeting on 26 August next week Saturday.

Meanwhile, if you have a spare 5 minutes, please do take a look at the "Beta Version" of the new SuSanA website here: (using the login details provided)

dev-web3x.susana.org
You need to log in to see it:
- Login: test
- Password: susanawebtest

(ahh, I have just spotted a typo! Upcomming events...)

Please put your feedback either in this thread or in this Google document which can be edited by anyone with the link:
docs.google.com/document/d/1hqgBippjrOkM...B5g/edit?usp=sharing

And the rest of the post contains the e-mail from André Eisser, our IT consultant, telling you what to look out for and comment on please:

+++++++++

Dear all,

finally I could upload and make the major changes to the module positions - so feel free to post the beta version in the forum - BUT:
you should remark that some functions are still "out of order" and you should point the people to the following aspects for feedback:

(1) font set in general - new font family and type, more contrast, more white space, new hyperlink concept
(2) new start page structure - should be faster and more clear to navigate (we may still need to change some of the pictures - any ideas?)
(3) navigation concept - reduced main menu with overlays - do the people understand / like this?
(4) new database structure and engine for projects, library and partners - are the filters clear? Are the new arangement of the page clear?

Regards
André

+++++++

Looking forrward to hearing from you! Either in this thread or by using the Google doc which I linked to above.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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This thread is now closed. Further discussion on this topic is available in this new thread:
forum.susana.org/10-announcements-regard...tember-your-feedback

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )
Wikipedian, co-founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation

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