Austin Animal Center

  • February 2015 - May 2015
  • Usability Study, UX Research
  • Team: Kristin Sullivan, Pearl Ko, Stefanie Roberts
  • Usability Test Report

Background

The Austin Animal Center (AAC) is one of the largest no-kill animal shelters in the United States that operates within the city government of Austin, Texas. The AAC provides shelter to more than 18,000 animals each year and animal protection services to all of Austin and Travis County. The organization’s online presence is currently contained within the city government’s website (austintexas.gov) under the Animal Services department. View their website here.

Challenge

The team conducted on-site and remote usability test sessions of the Austin Animal Center website to evaluate the site interface, information flow and information architecture with real users.

Our goal was to identify solutions for improving the usability of the AAC site by recording user task metrics that revealed pain points in navigation and visual presentation. Using feedback gathered in user test sessions, we provided design recommendations to support effective browsing and information discovery of AAC services.

This project was completed for a course in Usability taken at the UT School of Information.

My Role

For this project, I worked on a three-woman team, in which we shared equal responsibilities across strategy, research, and evaluation.

We created a user test plan that outlined the project’s strategy, conducted on-site and remote user test sessions using think-aloud protocol, and compiled a final report for our stakeholder, which contained:

  • -Interface design recommendations
  • -Participant behavior observation and comments
  • -Participant task scenario metrics such as completion rate, time on task, errors, and satisfaction using the AAC site
  • -Heuristic evaluation of the AAC site

Deliverables

Our group created a usability test plan, conducted 6 usability sessions, and delivered a final usability test report to the AAC for this project.

User Test Plan Presentation

For this project, the team first created a user test plan outlining our goals, methods, tasks, and metrics based off of requirements we gathered from our AAC stakeholder. This presentation provides an overview of our test plan.

Test Sessions

This section outlines the format, tasks and scenarios, post-task ratings, and post-test exit survey used in our 6 testing sessions.

Format

  • Participants: Six (three male, three female; ages 18-60+)
  • Length: 1 hour session per participant
  • Session Type: Three in-person moderated tests on live website; three remote moderated tests with GoToMeeting desktop software

Tasks and Scenarios

  1. Find general information about adopting a pet in Austin. (*task did not involve the AAC website)
  2. Go to the AAC website.
  3. Use the AAC website to adopt a pet.
    • 3a. Find a dog that weighs about 15 pounds and is 7+ years old.
    • 3b. Find a dog that weighs about 15 pounds, is 2+ years old, and black.
    • 3c. Find out what the adoption fees cover.
    • 3d. Find a way to contact someone at the AAC.
  4. Use the AAC website to find a lost pet.
    • 4a. Your two-week-old kitten, Munchkin, has gone missing. She’s a brown domestic short-hair and has a microchip. Check the AAC website to see if she’s in their care.
    • 4b. (If you didn’t find Munchkin) What would be your next step?
  5. Find an AAC adoption fair event scheduled during a specified time frame.
  6. Find microchip and rabies vaccination services on the AAC website.

Task Ratings

For tasks 3-6, participants used a seven-point Likert scale (1 - strongly disagree; 7 - strongly agree) to rate each task after completion:

  1. I found this task easy to complete.
  2. I was satisfied with the features I used to complete this task.
  3. I am likely to use the Austin Animal Center website to complete this task in real life.

Exit Survey

After all tasks were completed, participants completed an exit survey comprised of six open-ended questions and the ten questions from the System Usability Scale (SUS).

Final Test Report

Following the completion of the test sessions, we compiled our findings and design recommendations in a final report delivered to our stakeholder.

View full report.

Summary of Findings

Task Completion

A completed task is defined as having no critical errors. In our sessions, task completion rates revealed that most participants were able to find the information they needed to complete tasks 1-3, but some had difficulty completing tasks 4-6, and only 67% of participants completed task 5 (use the AAC site to find an adoption event scheduled during a specified time frame).

Task Ratings

Task ratings were only recorded for tasks 3-6 since the first two tasks did not involve using the AAC site. Task ratings revealed the percentage of participants who agreed with each statement in the post-task ratings surveys. In consideration with the task completion rates, all participants felt that task 3 was easy to complete, most felt tasks 4 and 6 were easy to complete, but only 17% felt that task 5 was easy to complete. Most users expressed dissatisfaction with the AAC website features used to complete task 5, and most would not be likely to use the website to complete task 5 in real life.

Time on Task (TOT)

Task ratings were only recorded for tasks 3-6 since the first two tasks did not involve using the AAC site. Task ratings revealed the percentage of participants who agreed with each statement in the post-task ratings surveys. In consideration with the task completion rates, all participants felt that task 3 was easy to complete, most felt tasks 4 and 6 were easy to complete, but only 17% felt that task 5 was easy to complete. Most users expressed dissatisfaction with the AAC website features used to complete task 5, and most would not be likely to use the website to complete task 5 in real life.

Errors

Task ratings were only recorded for tasks 3-6 since the first two tasks did not involve using the AAC site. Task ratings revealed the percentage of participants who agreed with each statement in the post-task ratings surveys. In consideration with the task completion rates, all participants felt that task 3 was easy to complete, most felt tasks 4 and 6 were easy to complete, but only 17% felt that task 5 was easy to complete. Most users expressed dissatisfaction with the AAC website features used to complete task 5, and most would not be likely to use the website to complete task 5 in real life.

Recommendations

We provided recommendations to the AAC of proposed changes and justifications driven by the participant task completion rates, behaviors, and comments from test sessions. The following recommendations will improve the overall ease of use and address the areas where participants experienced problems or found the interface/ information architecture unclear.

calendar

Calendar

Offer an easily accessible calendar in a prominent location on the main page, or relocate to the sidebar menu as an item.

Why?

In Task 5, all participants expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with the current Upcoming Events calendar view.

filter

Site Features

Provide more descriptive search parameters for filtering by weight range, age range, and color grouping. Clarify the purpose of the Animal ID field and indicate it is not a microchip number field.

Why?

Participants were confused by the Animal ID feature and consistently thought it was a field for entering a microchip number. Participants also expressed dissatisfaction with search filters in “Adopt a Pet” and “Lost and Found Pet” pages.

content

Content and Site Architecture

Reduce text density, reconsider page and breadcrumb labelling, place most commonly requested information in immediate, prominent locations.

Why?

Participants disliked high text density and excessive scrolling and hunting to find the information they need. Participants became lost or had trouble determining their present location in the site architecture.