Conferences as Information Grounds: Web Site Evaluation With a Mobile Usability Laboratory

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This article describes an “on-the-road” usability study and explains the study’s methodological challenges, solutions, and recommendations. The study concerned a library-consortium website, which is a communication and educational tool for librarians who are physically dispersed throughout the state, and an intranet for remote users. Rather than traveling to numerous locations or attempting a remote usability evaluation of the website, the lab took a mobile laboratory to a professional conference where a large number of website users were gathered. Four doctoral students used the talk-aloud protocol to interview 14 conference participants. The interviews were recorded with Morae software on laptop computers, and participants were asked to complete 13 tasks. Although there proved to be difficulties in mobile usability testing, the conference provided a space to describe the project and recruit participants. While the optimal place to conduct usability testing is in either the lab or the participant’s natural environment, advantages in taking it to a conference include access to a diverse range of users and the ability to generate interest in the project among users. © 2008 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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Journal of Web Librarianship





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