Situation: A large academic medical center was updating the website for its medical center, children’s hospital and private patient portal. As part of the design development, they hired What They Think Research to conduct a usability study to test how easy or difficult it was for visitors to find the information needed.

Solution: The web designers were interested in observing visitors in-person. Our solution was to conduct eight one-on-one interviews for each of the three websites. The interviews were held in a usability lab that had a client viewing room with video monitors. Web designers and clients viewed behind the glass as a moderator talked with each consumer about how they used the Internet for medical research. After a brief conversation, each consumer was given the same five tasks to complete. A second moderator, stationed behind the glass, tracked particular metrics such as how long it took each person to complete the task, the path they took, and their success rate. Consumers completed a brief questionnaire after each task to rate the experience and then discussed the experience with the moderator. Clients were able to hear consumers’ logic in how they would approach the search and observe barriers to completing tasks.

Result: Web designers viewed first hand paths consumers took to find information and when barriers prevented them from easily finding the information. In some cases, the web designers were able to make changes in between interviews, thus testing those changes immediately, which saved time and money. Because there were different web designers for different websites, the designers not only learned how well their websites performed and changes that needed to be made, they also gained helpful insights by viewing what did and did not work on the other website. The client was able to make changes that improved consumers’ experience on the site and perception of what the site could offer. 

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