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The usability and functionality of an online catalogue

Craven, Jenny and Johnson, Frances C. and Butters, Geoff (2010) The usability and functionality of an online catalogue. Aslib Proceedings, 62 (1). 70 - 84. ISSN 0001-253X

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the usability of the user interface to an online catalogue and to explore how user assessment of both system usability and functionality can provide recommendations for the improved design. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on previous studies, the usability testing used a mixture of search tasks, interviews and a structured focus group. Representative users completed tasks designed to test the system's features and a “think aloud” protocol collected data about the users' responses when using the system and on its perceived functionality. Findings – The analysis of the data on users' evaluation, preferences and expectations by a set of usability attributes enabled recommendations to be made with respect to key areas of the system functionality. Practical implications – The usability study helped to improve the “look and feel” of the interface and demonstrates how the user expectation of what constitutes a supported experience can help make recommendations for the design of a system that is both usable and useful. Originality/value – The paper demonstrates the benefits of using a mixture of approaches to test system usability and to gain a better understanding of usability from the perspective of the system's users, their expectations and perceived usefulness of the system.

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