Weekly user tests: Finding games

Our library has a pretty fantastic game collection of over 100 board games and almost 700 video games. But finding them? Well, it’s pretty easy if you know the exact title of what you want. But a lot of people just want to browse a list. And to get a list of all the video games you can borrow, you have two options:

  • Do a search for “computer games” in Summon and then go to Content Type facet on the left, click “more” and then limit by “Computer File”
  • Go to the library catalogue, select “Call & Other Numbers” and then under “Other Call Number” enter GVD if you want video games, but GVC if you want to see titles available through our Steam account. After that, you get a really useful results screen to browse:
    Search results GVD001, GVD002, GVD003, etc.

And if you want board games, the content type in Summon is “Realia.”

Sigh.

Obviously, this is ripe for improvement, but how best to improve? User testing!

We set up in the lobby (mostly – see postscript) and asked passing students if they had 2 minutes to answer a question and get a chocolate. We told them that we wanted to improve access to our game collection (alternating “video game” and “board game”) and so wanted to know what they would do to find out what games the library had. We had a laptop with the library website up, ready for them to use.

No one clicked anywhere on the page. No one mentioned the catalogue. They all would search Summon or Google or else ask someone in the library.

We asked them to tell us what search terms they would use, so now we can make sure that those Google searches and Summon searches will bring them to a page that will give them what they want. For Summon, that likely means using Best Bets, but everyone was consistent with the search terms they’d use, so Best Bets should work out okay.

Once we have all that ready, we can test again to see if this will work smoothly for our users. Or if we really do have to tell them about “computer file” and “realia.” [shudder]

Postscript

When we did testing last December, we set up in our Discovery Centre, a really cool and noisy space where students do a lot of collaborative work. We didn’t have to hustle too much to get participants; students would see our chocolate, come over to find out how to get some, do the test and that was that.

During our tests in the lobby this term, it’s been pretty much all hustle, and even after all these weeks I still don’t really like approaching people (I feel like the credit card lady at the airport that everyone tries to avoid). I kept thinking that we should head up to the Discovery Centre again for that gentler “display the chocolate and they will come” approach.

Well, we tried it today and got exactly one person in 20 minutes, despite lots of traffic. So we went back down to the lobby and got to the “we’re not learning anything new” mark in 15 minutes.

I’ll just have to learn to love the hustle.