Research fuels better experiences
Doing user research for the archived websites redevelopment project
5 September 2016
The Library is currently undertaking a project to combine two important resources, the PANDORA web archive and Australian Government Web Archives (AGWA), into a single Trove archived website zone.
We conducted research to understand how people engage with our archived online website content. We worked with researchers, librarians and university students and other volunteers.
Some key research findings
- The current presentation in Trove archived websites search results makes it really difficult to find results
- The concept of an archived website is difficult to understand
- The Title Entry Page or calendar view is blocking the journey when trying to get to an archived webpage
Read on to find out more about how we came to these conclusions.
As a team we identified a range of visitor types including researchers, librarians, and writers who use archived website material in different capacities and for different purposes.
We observed volunteers using PANDORA and AGWA to help us understand what they are trying to do, how archived website content helps them to complete their tasks and what frustrations they have with the current discovery and delivery journey.
After each site visit we debriefed on our whiteboard wall capturing everything we had observed from the session. We listed each task, steps followed, task frequency, frustrations, blockers, work arounds, and we also noted many quotes.
Personal quotes are gold as they provide raw and honest insight into each person's current experience.
‘The page I want is not there…immediately my heart despairs’.
‘I know it’s there but I can never find it’.
‘My heart starts to sink’.
‘Logically, I know it’s in there’.
We shared all of our findings with the wider project team so they could understand the issues people were having when they used PANDORA or AGWA.
Identifying the big issues
At the end of the research phase we had notes from our site visits, survey responses, visitor feedback, usage statistics and stakeholder interviews. We printed out each finding and observation onto individual cards and then as a project team sorted these issues into related groups.
Our major findings were:
- People are not familiar with viewing archived websites. We need to make it clear that an archived web resource is not a currently available webpage but instead a snapshot of the webpage as it appeared in the past.
- If people can’t easily find what they’re looking for in the search results then we have effectively blocked access to the content they want.
- Based on their experience with other search engines most of the people we observed expected that clicking on a search result would take them to the digital content they want.
- Most people don't expect to see a calendar or list of dates after clicking on a search result. This interaction is unexpected and they think that they (or we) have made a mistake.
- Our new design needs to better match expectations in order to make people feel comfortable and in control of their discovery experience.
We hope that by learning from the research we will be able to continually evaluate and refine our designs to ensure the site is understandable, useful and usable for people using Trove.