The purpose of this research is to determine whether the website is easy to use: specifically in terms of navigation, information facilitation, site organization, tracking location within the website and imploring users to explore more through its appearance. The research used a remote usability testing method on a few participants who were observed. Questionnaires were also used in order to find out the perception of users towards the website after using it. The results show that all measures scored well except one on appearance that scored lowly compared to others. This report recommends that the website should undergo a few changes in its homepage to improve appearance to attract users.



            This usability test was designed and used to test usability of the EServer Technical Communication Library website. The purpose of the usability test is finding out whether the website provides quick access to materials it provides for users and the ease of use. Specifically, the usability test sought to:

  • Establish whether the site easily and quickly provides the users with specific information
  • To determine the ease of navigating the website
  • Determine the perception of the site from users  

Website overview

EServer TC Library is a free open access website for online resources to people who use, produce, manage and distribute such technical communication EServer TC Library 2013). The website provides information to different professionals, ranging from website designers, publishers, editors, researchers and instructional designers amongst others with an aim of improving technical communication. It is based in the Rhetoric and Professional Communication programs at Iowa State University (EServer TC Library 2013).

Overview of Recommendations

            After analyzing the usability of EServer Technical Communication Library website, I make an argument in this report that usability of this website requires more improvement in its homepage appearance. The navigation of website is user friendly and easy since anybody can use. At the end of this report, I recommend that EServer Technical Communication Library website starts designing a more attractive website home page appearance.

Structure of report

            This report contains four crucial sections: a) my research plan, b) results of the research, c) discussion of the results and d) my recommendations.

Research Plan

In this section, I describe the research methodology that was used to conduct the usability test. It provides a description of the methods used in testing as well as data gathering techniques. To complete the usability testing on the navigability of the website, the remote usability testing method was used where participants were observed at their homes or where they use computers. From here, data was gathered through observation. In determining the perception of the site from the users, questionnaires that allowed people to describe their perception as well respond to other questions concerning their experience while using the website (Churm 2012).

Evaluation Criteria

The criteria used for evaluating included time used by participants to get to specific information. This criterion required asking the users to locate and download specified information from the website. The other criteria was reaction of the user as they used the website, which sought to identify panic, frustration and other cues that would indicate difficulty. The final criterion was questionnaires that sought to find out the perception of the users towards the website. A rating system was used in the questionnaires that included Rating criterion 1=none, 2=moderate, 3=average, 4=above average, 5=excellent for five measures. These measures are:

  • ease of using the website
  • look and appearance that tested whether homepage implores users to explore more
  • facilitation of information testing how quickly one can find information
  • organization of the site
  • difficulty of tracking location in the website

Remote Usability Testing

This method involves testing the usability of the website through users who were located in different areas. The users were required to be at their homes or places where they use computers regularly. Some were located in their homes while others were in workplaces or learning institutions for students. For participants that were far, video conferencing was used to observe their reaction during the time they used the website (Gardner 64). For such recipients, the click locations and video streaming software was used that automatically recorded users as they navigated thorough the website. This allowed every reaction and critical incidents occurring to be observed. This further allowed recording of the time users used to get specific information from the website (Gardner 64).


Questionnaires and interviews were used to test the perception of participants towards the website. In selecting the participants, some were new to the website to identify the first impression of the website to the users as well as how easily they can learn navigating through the website. Due to their ability to collect personalized data through their one-on-one nature, it enabled asking of direct questions. They allowed collection of better and structured data considering participants were responding to the same questions. This allowed collection of easy to correlate data (Churm 2012). The participants answered questions after they were done with the tests.  


In this section, I describe the results of the usability testing tasks that were measured against the evaluation criteria developed. I also describe the results from the questionnaires.

            The first task required the participants to open the homepage of the website and download or open up any article from the website. The time used to complete these tasks was recorded. Majority of the participants completed the task within the first two minute after opening the homepage.

Participant Time used (minutes) Completed
1 1 Yes
2 2 Yes
3 4 Yes
4 1 Yes
5 2 Yes
Average 2 n/a

After completing the task, participants were required to rate their experience against the subjective measures

Subjective measure Rating
Ease of using he website 5
Look and appearance 2
Facilitation of information 5
Organization of site 3
Ease of tracking location in the website 4
Average 3.8

Rating criterion 1=none, 2=moderate, 3=average, 4=above average, 5=excellent

The other task was finding specific article that was placed in the Web Design section under Intranets heading. In this case, majority completed the task within 3 minutes.

Participant Time used (minutes) Completed
1 1 Yes
2 2 Yes
3 5 Yes
4 3 Yes
5 3 Yes
Average 2.8 n/a

Rating after task completion

Subjective measure Rating
Ease of using he website 5
Look and appearance 2
Facilitation of information 5
Organization of site 2
Ease of tracking location in the website 4
Average 3.6

Rating criterion 1=none, 2=moderate, 3=average, 4=above average, 5=excellent

Results of the questionnaire concerning perception indicated that participants regarded the website highly depending on the information that was provided. They also perceived it positively from ease of navigating that is quite simple. However, their perception towards the appearance was low compared to other features.

Discussion of results

Based on the usability tests and results, I reach the conclusion that the look and appearance of the website requires improvement in order to implore users to explore the website. I also conclude that other measures scored highly due to its simple nature that allows ease of navigating, tracking location in the website and information facilitation.

            The look and appearance of the website received the lowest rating compared to the other measures. The participants did not think it was attractive enough to implore users to explore the website. Some of the reasons cited by the participants were concerned with looking too simple and not making use of the whole web page since only a lot of space is not utilized. When it comes to ease of use, the participants including new ones were able to locate the two navigation keys highlighted in red for moving from one section to another. Additionally, the headings under each section allowed participants to go directly to an area of their choice for quick retrieving of information. This made it easy to navigate and retrieve information. This organization made it easy to navigate.


In conclusion, I think that the EServer Technical Communication Library should improve the appearance of its website by using more space in the homepage as opposed to a little part of the center in the page. This would allow the users to view different sections to choose from at the same time. To make more appealing, the website could use a little more graphics. However, the graphics should not be the main aim since too much of them could make it unprofessional (Pixelsmithstudios 2013). The graphics should aim at making the website look more professional, probably by using graphics that match the content of the website as used in the section areas. To conclude, I argue that the website it easy to use and navigate, but requires a more attractive homepage appearance to make it more attractive to implore users for exploration beyond the homepage.

Works cited

Churm Thomas. An Introduction to Website Usability Testing. usabilitygeek.com, July 9, 2012. Web. June 28, 2013. 

EServer TC Library. About this Site. eserver.org, 2012. Web. June 28, 2013.

Gardener, Jessica. “Remote Web Site Usability Testing – Benefits Over Traditional Methods.” International Journal of Public Information Systems, 2, (2007): 63- 72.

Pixelsmithstudios. 4 Tips on how to improve your Website Appearance. pixelsmithstudios.com, February 6, 2012. Web. June 28, 2013.

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