Usability Overview

Usability has been defined as: "Usability means that people who use the [site] can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their own tasks." (Dumas and Redish). Given this definition, usability is clearly important in a library's website.

Evaluating the usability of a particular information system or webpage can take many forms: user surveys, focus groups, interviewing, heuristic evaluations, and usability testing. Usability testing has been determined by some to be particularly effective in evaluating usability and uncovering user problems.

Usability testing, a practice soon to be standardized by ANSI, has been widely used in industry and has the ability to help ascertain the success of an information system of acheiving users goals. Usability testing has been shown to have positive benefits: The results of usability testing have been used to increase user's performance using information systems. A central aspect of usability testing is the use of hypothetical scenarios where participants are asked to perform tasks. During the performance of these scenarios, participant's actions are recorded for both qualitative and quantitative information. In usability testing, the results of these tasks are recorded, synthesized, and are used to diagnose usability problems.

For more information please review the to the guides, links, and books on this site.