BibEval - A framework for usability evaluations of online library services

Thomas Weinhold, Bernard Bekavac, Sonja Hamann


From the perspective of users three aspects are essential for the quality of library online services: the performance, the usefulness and the usability (Tsakonas & Papatheodorou, 2006). The usability expresses the quality of interactions between users and a system. For conducting usability evaluations a wide spectrum of methods can be used. A good overview of usability evaluations of library websites is provided by Kupersmith (2012). Also Fagan (2010) provides a literature review about usability studies of faceted browsing, which is a common feature of modern online catalogues. According to those papers heuristics are a widely used instrument to assess the usability of library websites (e.g. Aitta et al., 2008; Yushiana & Rani, 2007; Manzari & Trinidad-Christensen, 2006). However, such heuristics are usually kept rather generic. Therefore extensive knowledge in the field of human factors is needed to use them effectively. In order to give library staff the possibility to conduct evaluations by themselves, the SII developed a criteria catalogue which is specifically tailored to evaluations of online library services. Its development was based on three different sources. First, a literature review was conducted to identify suitable evaluation criteria. Following that, a best-practice analysis of library websites was carried out in order to gain more insight about the current state-of-the-art. Based on these findings an initial version of the criteria catalogue was generated, which was then further refined by the results of a focus group (library staff, web designers, usability experts). The criteria catalogue uses a modular structure, so that it can be applied for comprehensive evaluations of a library’s entire online services as well as for evaluations of only selected areas of a website. It is available in form of an interactive web application. For supporting evaluations a project administration tool is available which guides users step by step through the usage of the application.

Keywords: evaluation, heuristics, usability



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