The only way to find out if something is usable is to have people test it out for you, and give you feedback, and that is what we did for Aristotle. We needed people to try out the demo to see if it was actually usable and understandable for someone brand new coming to it. A few weekends ago we had three people come into ThinkPlace Canberra, all with different levels of experiences with using a metadata registry to see how people reacted to the website and how to improve the usability of a metadata registry. Our three volunteers all came in at different times, so none of them came into contact with one another, and they were sat down in a studio and given some questions about the website and scenarios to follow. We asked them to say whatever they felt, just to openly talk about what was on their minds as they ran through some simple scenarios we think other users will encounter in the future when using this registry, like adding or editing information, and we asked them questions to find out why people would be using this and what their needs may be.
First, we had them look at the home page and give some insights to what you would do on the page if this was their first time coming to a registry. They were asked what the page was, why they would need it, and how they would use it. The users were then given a report on surgery waiting times, and asked to read though some of it and then search for key terms from the report in the registry and look at the search results and tell us how they would explain these terms to someone. Next, they were run through a scenario where they had to create a new data element for ‘clinical urgency’. To do this, we had the users log in to the system and then had to create the data element, going through the steps and then submitting what they had for review. To further test the workflow, the review was first rejected, but then accepted once they added a reference to the created data element.
So, what were some of the findings of our sessions?
One of the main things found was that users didn’t know what to do when they got to the demo servers page. Even though there is text under the search bar, sometimes people don’t see what is right in front of them and they miss the instructions, especially when a page is text heavy. Another thing mentioned was that there were two search bars on the demo servers page, and the users didn’t know which one to search with. Also, when searching for something, there are a lot of filters that come up, and some of the users were confused as to what the filters meant. When searching, there was also a glossary item and a property that came up when searching for ‘urgency’, and they both have very similar definitions. To a new user, without any previous knowledge, there could be some confusion distinguishing the difference between the two.
All in all, the sessions went really well. All of the feedback received was very beneficial and we look forward to using the lessons from these sessions to improve how people interact with their metadata through Aristotle.