Usability Case Study: National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)

USING LOOP11 TO COMPARE THE USABILITY OF A LIVE WEBSITE VS. A WIREFRAME PROTOTYPE

NAIS Logo

CLIENT:                          TerpSys and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)

INDUSTRY:                    Education

WEBSITE:                       www.nais.org

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is a membership-based organization representing 1,400 independent schools and associations across the United States.  Its website is a key means of communication and access for its members, so having a website that is easy to use is critical.

THE PROBLEM

NAIS members weren’t able to find what they needed on the site.  As a result, phone calls to customer support had increased.

THE BRIEF

NAIS engaged U.S.-based technology customer service company, TerpSys, to help resolve the issues with the website.

There was a perception that certain tasks were completely unworkable on the current NAIS site, but there were no statistics to support this.

TerpSys had already created wireframe prototypes based on a content re-structuring and Information Taxonomy project for NAIS to enable easy and accurate information access.  However, before moving into costly website design and implementation, it needed to evaluate whether the new framework would sufficiently meet NAIS’ member needs.

NAIS Cast Study Prototype

NAIS prototype wireframe set up as a Loop11 project to test its usability against the existing NAIS website.

THE SOLUTION

TerpSys used Loop11 to generate hard data on usability that would form the basis of its site recommendations for the NAIS.

Loop11 was used to systematically test usability performance and collect data comparing the existing website with the wireframe prototypes of the newly designed Information Architecture.  Loop11 enabled Terpsys to:

a)     Establish a usability baseline.

b)     Test a wireframe prototype of the new website.

c)      Test a redacted version of the current live site.

d)     Test both the wireframe prototype and the live site to compare “apples with apples”.

e)     Evaluate the data.

THE PARTICIPANTS

The NAIS membership department generated a list of existing members, spread across their identified audience categories, who were willing to participate.  Each participant was sent links to both projects.

90 NAIS members participated in the online testing, providing fast and instant statistics through Loop11’s ability to record if project tasks were completed successfully and the amount of time each task took.

THE TEST

1. Two separate projects were set up in Loop11 - one each for the prototype wireframes and the existing website.  Each project featured 33 identical tasks and questions.

2. Key participant questions relating to the customer support feedback were identified, including:

- How would find information about NAIS membership?

- How would you find a job at an independent school?

3. Additional questions were asked to gauge the usability and website effectiveness including:

- How often do you visit the NAIS.org website?

- (After each task) How easy or difficult was it to find this information?

Once the tests were launched, Loop11 enabled TerpSys to track the task completion rates and observe the navigation path of participants. TerpSys was also able to instantly access the feedback provided by participants.

EXAMPLE DATA COLLECTED

1. Participant Task:  “How would you find information about NAIS membership?”

Prototype wireframe: 85% task completion rate
Live website: 81% task completion rate

Analysis:  Loop11 recorded an almost identical completion rate between sites, providing evidence that the task is being completed satisfactorily.

2. Participant Task:  “Where can you find information on serving students with learning differences?”

Prototype wireframe: 65% task completion rate
Live website: 14% task completion rate

Analysis:  In this case, Loop11 recorded the wireframes had a substantially higher task completion rate than the live website. Analysis also revealed (in blue) that there were fairly high task abandon rates on both designs, suggesting that the task wasn’t straightforward to complete in either design.  As a result of this analysis, TerpSys was able to make recommendations for changes required.

THE RESULTS

Using the statistical data Loop11 generated based on the usability test, TerpSys was able to identify the direct leverage points on the website which would yield the most results.  They were able to make confident, data-based recommendations to NAIS on where to focus their website development efforts to yield the most usable website possible for its members.

LOOKING TO DO SOME EFFECTIVE, EASY, AND AFFORDABLE USABILITY TESTING ON YOUR SITE?

NAIS is one of many Loop11 success stories.  Loop11 can generate quantifiable results on your site without the cost and expense of lab-based testing sessions.  Get started now – your first project is free.

Loop11 – Now with Accessibility Testing

Disability symbols

Could your business be missing out on an estimated $1 trillion market?

$1 trillion – $200 billion alone in discretionary spending – that’s what Fortune Magazine estimates the community of disabled people represent, 55 million people in the U.S. and approximately 1 billion people worldwide.  It is the largest minority group.

Many of these people use the web differently from the average user.  Many use assistive technologies to navigate the web, and in order for a site to be accessible it must include the features these technologies rely on.

Could your website’s design be inadvertently excluding people with disabilities?

A quick test of your site’s level of accessibility
Here are three basic things to check in the next week to gauge how accessible your site is (and reminders to help you actually do it – just click the Remind Me button and sign in to set up an automatic reminder to get this done):

1. Make sure all images on your site have alt-text tags.

People using screen readers don’t see images, so make sure the the alt-text of each image is descriptive – particularly if the image itself contains text.

2. Make sure that each field on every forms on your site is properly labelled.

Without labels, forms will not be viewable on screen readers.

3. Make sure your site can be navigated using only a keyboard.

Not everyone uses a touchpad or mouse, so make sure there aren’t any features on your site which require them.

Accessibility testing with Loop11

The three checks above are a good place to start but really, there’s so much more to test to ensure your site is truly accessible.  Each type of disability has its own technology access needs, and each assistive technology has its own requirements and limitations.

Through our partnership with Knowbility – a non-profit organization focused on increasing technology accessibility to the disabled community – Loop11 now offers an easy and affordable way to do comprehensive accessibility testing.

AccessWorks, an extensive database of web-users with disabilities created and managed by Knowbility, reflects a spectrum of visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments. Loop11 customers can now tap into the AccessWorks database for all accessibility testing needs, saving time that would otherwise be spent on recruiting participants for face-to-face testing.

Testing for accessibility issues with Loop11 is simple. When a customer chooses to conduct accessibility testing, they will be prompted to select criteria from a custom panel. Knowbility then pulls participants from AccessWorks to form a group that fits these requirements. Through an email sent by Knowbility, these new participants will have instant access to a tailor-made web-based accessibility evaluation. Next, as participants begin test-taking, Loop11 customers can take advantage of quantitative feedback and real-time monitoring by checking out results instantly.

Case Study

For a recent project, Knowbility crafted an extensive accessibility test using Loop11 and recruiting from the AccessWorks database. The recruited participants reflected two forms of visual impairment (low vision and legal blindness), a cognitive disability (traumatic brain injury) and motor disability (amputee).

They explored a university’s website through 19 tasks. Some used assistive technologies like screen readers, screen magnifiers, and adaptive technology for motor impairments.

The test unearthed a few barriers for mobility-impaired and visually-impaired users.

Results showed that the site could benefit from various improvements – some small, some great. The three main accessibility problems were encountered with keyboard use and screen readers.

Firstly, dropdown menus were inaccessible via keyboard use, which many visually and motor impaired participants use to navigate. Next, a problem with keyboard focus was discovered. Some interactive elements correctly lit up; others did not.

Also a lack of headings made for tedious, time-consuming navigation for those with screen readers. Instead of being able to skip through various sections of content, participants had no choice but to listen to entire pages of content in order to find what they needed.

Web accessibility: Worth looking into

The number of people living with disabilities is only going to grow.  How accessible is your site to this market?  Test and find out.

For more info on web accessibility, watch our recent webinar on accessibility and usability testing with our CEO Toby Biddle and Knowbility Executive Director Sharron Rush:

Come say hi at the UX Australia conference next week

UX Australia

Hi folks!

Coming to UX Australia 2012, in Brisbane next week?  We’ll be there!

UX Australia is Australia’s premier user design conference, which we’re proud to co-sponsor.

It’s a 4-day user experience design conference, with inspiring and practical presentations, covering a range of topics about how to design great experiences for people.  (It’s not too late to sign-up.)

Do come by our exhibition booth to say hi… and while you’re there, enter our raffle to win an iPad!

Toby Biddle and the Loop11 team

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