One goal with V3 of the BibiloWeb platform is to offer a robust user experience that allows library staff to create content which can be posted once and displayed anywhere. This ensures that relevant content will be disseminated automatically across a library’s site, while minimizing effort for content creators.
One way we intend to achieve this in BibiloWeb’s ‘Add a New Blog Post’ interface is by integrating featured content creation (referred to as “Cards”) with blog post creation. Cards are a “dollop” of content that allows a blog to be featured elsewhere on the library’s website. This new ‘Add a New Blog Post’ workflow also requires content creators to upload and crop images which accompany the Card.
The research objective :
We conducted moderated research with library bloggers around the ‘Add a New Blog Post’ feature. The study sought to assess the usability of the changes to the interface, and evaluate whether integrating the workflow for creating blog posts and content cards would truly benefit our content creators. We performed moderated usability tests using a prototype of our new design to five content creators from our partner libraries.
Things we learned:
1.Improvements should solve a real problem the user is having.
Since making our content creators’ lives easier is one goal of the redesign, it was important for us to assess whether our changes would actually be considered an improvement. The ability to create a featured content card as part of the ‘Add a New Blog Post’ workflow was very well-received! Participants were enthusiastic about the ability to do both tasks in one location. We can move forward with the confidence that our new design will save our content creators – and their editors – time and effort.
2.Usability does not guarantee a great user experience.
Part of the test was to upload images and crop them to two sizes. Even though we observed that our participants could complete the task successfully, sometimes they weren’t entirely sure what was happening until the end of the process. Even though our design proved to be “usable”, we observed moments of hesitation and doubt. Creating a great user experience means preventing these moments by being empathetic to the user’s journey every step of the way.
3.When introducing a new feature into a familiar workflow, ensure design patterns are familiar.
We observed that our more experienced participants tended to rely more on their previous knowledge of how the tool or interface was supposed to behave, than on the instructional copy that was right in front of them. This meant they were using an established mental model to inform their experience. A mental model is defined by the Nielsen Norman Group as “what the user believes about the system at hand.”
Mental models are an important reason to offer familiar design conventions. We observed that some of our participants struggled when our interface didn’t match their mental model. These moments of misalignment tell us whether our product will be hard to learn and use.
4.There is a fine line between minimalism and ambiguity.
It’s our desire to create products that are intuitive and easy to use. This can be achieved through the principle of minimalism: providing uncluttered layouts, minimal copy and interaction design which requires the fewest number of steps to complete a task. Our study revealed that in our effort to simplify the image cropping process, we were making our participants struggle. The sparseness of our design was resulting in uncertainty. Sometimes less is actually not enough.
This research validated that our design would indeed streamline the process for content curators. It also revealed some usability problems, so improvements will be made to ensure more detailed feedback is provided, specifically during the image cropping process. We hope that reducing this uncertainty will go a long way to improving the overall experience.
Creating a great user experience means solving a real problem, being empathetic to the user’s journey and ensuring that a desire for simplicity hasn’t made the interface ambiguous. Even if a design proves to be “usable” in terms of task completion, the user’s experience should be considered every step of the way!