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

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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.

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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.
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* 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

Kathmandu, Nepal

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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
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
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench, website:...
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