User Testing Round One – What you’re telling us

Results are in for the navigation survey sent out in January! Our goal is to make the UMW website’s navigation intuitive and functional. To accomplish that we are breaking down our navigation to its basic structure, surveying the Mary Washington community using software built specifically to test website navigation, and analyzing your responses to create a navigation tailored to you. The proposed new navigation tested incredibly well, overall, and we learned a lot about user experience and UMW audience expectations. Users (that’s you) can now take the navigation survey for the admissions site.

For the first round we had two surveys in which we asked randomly assigned participants to perform a series of five tasks. The set of tasks was identical across the two surveys, but the navigation used to perform those tasks differed. This allowed us to compare our current navigation to a new, proposed one, and see what worked and what absolutely did not work for both. It also allowed us to see if the new navigation is actually more intuitive and, if not, where most participants felt they would realistically find the information they were tasked to find. From this data, we will eventually be able to create an easier to navigate, more intuitive navigation for the UMW website.

Each task is scored based on overall success, directness, and time taken. The score is a number between 1(worst) and 10 (best). The scores received in this round of testing show significant improvement from our current navigation to the new navigation.

The best examples can be seen in these tasks, and their scores:

  • 4: Where could you find out about the workout classes UMW has to offer? (8-5)
  • 11: Where could you find a list of clubs at UMW? (10-4)
  • 15: If you were looking for the Undergraduate Academic Catalog, where might you find it? (6-2)
  • 17: Where could you find information about events open to the public? (10-1)
  • 21: Where could you find information on study abroad programs? (7-4)

Take, for example, task 11. As you can see from the images below, with the current navigation, participants were divided in where they could find a list of clubs. The only unifying factor is that, of the 11 participants who were assigned this task, 9 believed clubs would be located under Student Life (1 participant skipped this task).

Current (score: 4)

Image shows navigation test outcomes for current navigation structure as of 3/26/15.

Navigation test outcomes for current navigation structure as of 3/26/15.

For the new navigation, all participants believed a club list would be located under Student Life and 16 out of 16 participants found where the list was located.

New (score: 10)

Image shows navigation test outcomes for proposed navigation structure as of 3/26/15.

Image shows navigation test outcomes for proposed navigation structure as of 3/26/15.

Note that our new proposed navigation is not without its flaws. There are a few tasks where the information does not yet have a home. For those tasks, we placed the information in a similar location to where it is located in the current navigation. Clearly that placement still had its issues, as evidenced by the following tasks, and their scores:

  • 10: Where could you find information about UMW’s Meditation Space? (1)
  • 14: Where would you find information on how to join the UMW Philharmonic? (2)
  • 16: Where could you purchase theatre tickets? (1)
  • 18: Where could you find how to pay a parking ticket? (3)
  • 19: Where could you find contact information for the IT department? (1)

Even these poor scores are incredibly valuable. They tell us where most people went to look for the information they were tasked to find. We can use this data to support further testing and even moving that information to where participants thought it should be located.

Task 10, for example, asks participants to find information on the Meditation Space. Although that information is currently located under Student Life James Farmer Multicultural Center Meditation Space and Diversity James Farmer Multicultural Center Meditation Space

most participants (7/13) for the current navigation thought it would be under Student Life Health and Well-Being.

For the new navigation, most participants (12/20) thought it would be under Student Life Health and Wellness.

Since Student Life Health and Wellness was the most common path among those surveyed, the information for the Meditation Space will likely be housed there in the new navigation.

Our next step is to adjust our overarching navigation structure according to your results. We will also be testing each individual section of the website, such as About UMW, Admissions, Academics, etc. to continuously work toward an intuitive and functional navigation structure. The area in which we will be focusing our next set of surveys is Admissions. The admissions navigation user test is now available.

More information can be found in the Web Advisory Council presentation slides.

Questions? Email webmaster@umw.edu.

About Katherine Stosch

Katherine Stosch is a Spanish major with minors in applied mathematics and computer science. She has been working for the Office of Digital Communications since Spring 2014 and will be graduating Spring 2015.