Doing usability against the “Catholic Portal”

This posting describes a process for iteratively studying usability issues against the “Catholic Portal” with the expectation that it will be applied by each institutional member of the Digital Access Committee within the current calendar year. The posting is divided into the following sections:

This document is also available as a PDF document for printing, a second PDF document designed as a set of slides, and just for fun, an EPUB file for your mobile device.

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Usability results from Team Catholic Portal

This posting lists the results of a usability study done against the “Catholic Portal”.

In a previous posting called “Usability testing” (dated February 14, 2011) a set of eight usability questions was outlined. Since then Team Catholic Portal here at Notre Dame facilitated six usability studies made up of five graduate students and one faculty member. These participants were scholars in philosophy and theology. We used the simple facilitator/note-taker approach. We employed usability software (Silverback), but didn’t use it to evaluate our results. Using our notes as well as professional judgement, we evaluated the results and came up with the following prioritized list of things to be addressed with the Portal’s interface:

  • 6 – set search filter to off by default
  • 5 – enable sending of more than one email at a time
  • 4 – clarify difference between canonical and remote [files]
  • 3 – remove autocomplete feature
  • 2 – re-do text mining language
  • 1 – tweak facets to be more descriptive or complete
  • 1 – retain links of original EAD file in local EAD file
  • 1 – respect my browser preferences
  • 1 – remember [search] results after creating account
  • 1 – make local EAD file the default
  • 1 – implement authority control (cross-reference) functionality
  • 1 – highlight search words in result [list]
  • 1 – explain what facets are
  • 1 – enable further search [refinements] after selecting “archival records”
  • 1 – confirm adding to favorites
  • 1 – add addresses and phone numbers to records

Once we have finished migrating our existing “sandbox” implementation of the Portal to production hardware, I will see about implementing the changes. Some of them require changes to the underlying VuFind software. Some of them require changes in wording.

February 2011 Update

Please mark your calendars for the

March 30 All-Members Meeting and

March 29 Pre-meeting Events

Tuesday, March 29 – Villanova University, Philadelphia

1-4:30 Events at Falvey Memorial Library

6:30  Dinner with CRRA colleagues, place TBA

Wednesday, March 30 – Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia

10:00-2:00 CRRA All Members Meeting

and more

In this update …

  • Welcome to Creighton University, our newest member.  Watch for more information about Creighton in the March 2011 Update.
  • Congratulations to Duquesne’s Gumberg Library for winning an LSTA Grant Award to Digitize the Pittsburgh Catholic Newspaper!
  • Collections Committee Update:  Portal Enhancements and more …
  • CRRA at Upcoming Conferences and Outreach to Catholic Colleges and Universities, by Jennifer Younger
  • CRRA Colleagues from the University of Dayton, Marquette University, and Dominican University braved the February weather for two days of tours, presentations, workshops, and conversation at the ND/CRRA Digital Humanities Forum and Workshops at Notre Dame.
  • Mark your calendars! CRRA in Philadelphia (March 2011) To facilitate reservations and our hosts in providing refreshments, it would be helpful to have a count of expected attendees.  Please email Pat Lawton at if you will be joining us for any or all of these events.

Continue reading “February 2011 Update”