The Effects of Using a Triangulation Approach of Evaluation Methodologies to Examine the Usability of a University Website
Dana H. Smith (University of Maryland-Baltimore County, USA), Zhensen Huang (University of Maryland-Baltimore County, USA), Jennifer Preece (University of Maryland-Baltimore County, USA) and Andrew Sears (University of Maryland-Baltimore County, USA)
Copyright: © 2002
The objective of this study was to evaluate the current University of Maryland, Baltimore County website and identify problems that could be addressed in an upcoming re-design project. In meeting this objective, we used a combination of evaluation methods in order to triangulate and collect different perspectives on the problems. Heuristic evaluations were performed to gain an overview of the problems with the website. A total of fifty-four Information Systems students participated in this particular portion of the study. Next, focus group sessions were conducted to seek out what individuals want and need from the site, along with specific problems encountered. And finally, thirteen subjects performed usability testing to examine specific issues concerning navigation. Together, these methods provide three different but synergistic perspectives. By gathering test data, observing users, and interviewing a range of individuals on campus, we were able to collect a wide variety of information that was compiled, analyzed, and formally reported to the design group. The analysis of the data collected from the three techniques revealed several key issues in which expert recommendations were made for website redesign. But more importantly, the result of using a triangulation approach in this research illustrates the value of combining inspection methods and testing to identify usability problems on a University website.