Now that your web site is up and accessible from anywhere, do you know if your patrons are finding what they need? The "webmistress" may think so, but the public service librarians may know otherwise. Usability testing may help you provide proof (if you need it) that the navigation links on your site are confusing to all except the librarians. As library web sites become more intricate, usability testing can be an option for improving online service. Norlin, a University of Arizona-Tucson librarian who served on the university's "Access 2000" project that redesigned the school's site with usability testing, and Winters, a Ph.D. candidate at Florida State University's School of Information Studies, have not written an in-depth book on good library web design (see Kristin L. Garlock's Designing Web Interfaces to Library Services and Resources, Professional Media, LJ 5/1/99). Rather, they give basic information on usability testing, web design guidelines, how to involve colleagues and users to bring about change, pre-assessment and planning, preparing and evaluating the usability test itself, and examples of tests. The authors sometimes state the obvious: "a `good' web site is one that can be used with relative ease by the end user whereas a `bad' web site is one that is not easy to use." Their chapter on "Buy-in," a management technique, is a bit overwrought and is only pertinent to usability testing depending on your situation. A test example includes a link to a web page that is "under construction." Why test an incomplete web site for usability? These faults aside, and although expensive for its small size, this book contains useful information for those who want to begin exploring usability testing for their library web site. Robert L. Battenfeld, Long Island Univ.-Southampton Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This brief book confines itself to a topic that is becoming more and more important to libraries: Web-site design, its ease of navigation, and requirements for maintenance. Usability testing, originally a marketing term, is used here when the effectiveness and user satisfaction of a site are being evaluated. Four goals are explored in improving library sites: usefulness, effectiveness, learnability, and user satisfaction. The authors feel that such testing should not be considered optional, but necessary facets of Web developmental stages. Steps for recruitment of a testing team, development of sample questions and tasks, and evaluation of results are included. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.