Usability

Survey Evaluation of the University of Alabama in Huntsville Website

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Website design is a very complex issue. Site creators must be conscious of a number of separate issues, including visual appeal, ease of use, and availability of information. In addition, these items must compete with images that can take up much of the screen real estate.

As part of a project for the course Usability Studies, I decided to take a look at the usability of the UAH website. I’ve had concerns with the website for years and have spoken to other students who also have issues with the site. In order to zero in on one topic that would represent just how usable the website is, I focused on questions that would elucidate how easy certain pieces of information are to find.

I designed seven questions for this survey. Five were closed-ended questions, and two were open-ended questions. The closed-ended questions gagued the ease of finding specific pieces of information. For example, one of the questions was as follows:

Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statement: “I found it easy to information about registration on the website.” Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree?

The open-ended questions asked what users liked and disliked about the website to get a sense of each user’s final thoughts. I used the site SurveyMonkey to perform this survey due its low cost (none in my case) and ease of use.

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So far, responses to the survey have been fairly positive. This is actually counter to my initial expectations, but responses are continuing to be collected. I am ready, however, to make some conclusions regarding the use of surveys. They are very low cost and efficient. Sites like SurveyMonkey make it easy for anyone to run their own surveys, with the drag-and-drop style of question design allowing series of questions to be quickly assembled. Unfortunately, there will always be an unknown in the number of responses the survey administrator will actually get and the turnaround time of responses.

-Joel Zuber