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Testing our Website Navigation (Part 1)

In October 2019, the UX team conducted modified usability tests and semi-structured interviews with students and faculty to assess our proposed library website navigation structure.

Research Questions

  • Are users able to complete the defined tasks using our new navigation?
  • Is our web content organized intuitively and logically?


  • We created an online activity with 10 scenarios to test our newly designed navigation structure. Participants were presented with a scenario (e.g. Where would you find the database, Web of Science?) and asked to use our primary and secondary navigation items to complete the task

  • We directed users to a link on our homepage to complete the test. We also asked users in-person to complete the test using their mobile devices, and we conducted three in-depth modified usability tests that were video and audio recorded

  • A total of 51 participants completed the online test - 43 undergraduate students, seven graduate students, two faculty members and one alumni

What did we Learn?

  • We defined a task successfully completed if more than 60% of users used the correct pathway. Three tasks were unsuccessful; finding Web of Science, locating interlibrary loan and requesting an in-class session

  • Terminology matters. Users did not naturally link databases to our proposed secondary menu item ‘Journal Articles’. The term ‘Interlibrary Loan’ was not known among undergraduate students 

  • The term ‘Research’ was confusing to users and did not reflect the list of sub-menu items we proposed. Users considered ‘research’ to mean both finding articles for a research assignment as well as conducting primary research

  • Faculty want a web page that collates all of the library services available to them in one location. We also discovered that faculty often have a library contact person that they use for all library inquiries

  • Most users Google the web page(s) they are looking for rather than use the navigation

Our Recommendations

  • Retain the following primary navigation items: ‘Find’, ‘Using the Library’, ‘Writing & Studying’, ‘Working with Data’, ‘Archives’, ‘Contact Us’, and ‘About’ (in the footer)

  • Remove the word ‘Research’ from the primary navigation item ‘Research & Publishing’ and change to ‘Scholarship & Publishing’. The term ‘Research’ has multiple meanings and was confusing to users. ‘Scholarship’ is a more accurate representation of the content we have organized under this menu item.

  • Change the secondary navigation item ‘Journal Articles’ to ‘Journal Articles & Databases’ 

  • Change the secondary navigation item ‘Faculty’ to ‘For Faculty & Instructors’.


Year of Study: