MFTA Website Usability Testing & Recommendation
MFTA is a nonprofit organization based in NYC, having the largest source of material inspiration, city agencies and public schools-from set designers to museum educators, public school teachers to performance artists, and beyond. The MFTA expects to engage a wide range of audience, including members seeking to join their events and non-members interested in art-related events and reusable material.
Through remote synchronized testings, participants attempted to complete four tasks given within a controlled setting. The test provides both qualitative and quantitative data which can be used effectively to find solutions for usability issues.
WEB USABILITY & REDESIGN
Duration: Mar-May 2020 2 months
Team: Yolanda, Divya, Karishma
Contribution: Usability Testing, User Interview & Survey, Project Management, Data Assessment, Usability Report, Presentation
How might we engage a wide range of audience of MFTA with better inclusion?
To improve the usability and user experience of the MFTA website and came up with recommendations for a potential redesign, we conducted user testing which focused on the navigation, key features (event calendar, search & donation), and overall visual appearance. We presented our findings and a usability report of the MFTA website, including the assessments, results and recommendations for issues found through the test to the MFTA designers.
Define & Prepare
After making sure of the organization's mission and scope, we used the following metrics to filter participants who meet our criteria:
Students or educators living in New York City
Interested about artwork made with reused material
Be willing to spend 30 minutes to take an online user testing
Helps us gain more understanding about potential MFTA users and their behaviors and needs when using art and material related sites similar to MFTA
Enables us to gather user’s recommendations for improving the usability for specific tasks and gain deeper understanding on targeted pain points
Allows us to measure user's emotional responses to the overall experience of the website and understand if they would be willing to sign up as users
WHO ARE THE PARTICIPANTS?
To evaluate the usability of MFTA’s website, we conducted user tests with 8 participants. We chose to conduct remote moderated user test via Zoom. The participants were encouraged to use a “Think Out Aloud” approach to speak out their thoughts as they interacted with the interface for each task. This allows us to obtain qualitative insights on the user's thought process and pain points encountered while using the website to complete a certain set of tasks.
DONATION & LAYOUT
You have some old clothes and crayons that you would like to donate. You want to check if these items are applicable to be donated to the Friends of Materials for the Arts. If you find that one or both items are applicable, donate the item(s) through the website.
NEW & UPDATES
You want to look through recent posts to keep updated on what MFTA is doing. Find out the post about “Gallery Exhibition Opening & Artmaking” that was published on September 19th and then search for other similar gallery exhibition posts.
You need to visit the MFTA Gallery for research. Find out the operation hours of the MFTA Gallery, then look at details about a past exhibit-knotted works to get a sense of the exhibitions and find the venue address of the upcoming exhibition to plan your visit.
You are a teacher and want to strengthen your teaching practice by participating in MFTA's professional training program. Find out the upcoming course "Protected: Pratt Testing" under the professional training program and try to buy one ticket.
RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
Moderators documented their observations and findings on Google Sheets to consolidate the insights. The results were analyzed and we related the severity of findings to draw out the main usability problems.
Usability Testing Results
Identifying Main Problems
The MFTA website is visually appealing with aesthetic usage of colors. All of the participants expressed interest and admiration for Friends of Materials for the Arts. A majority of the users are willing to continue using this website and recommend it to others. However we also identified some main problems in the design and experience:
Lacks indicators: in general, users complained about the amount of information which seemed overwhelming to the users with too many texts.
Long loading time: participants appreciated the appealing images, however, some pictures were too slow in loading, which impeded user experiences.
Misleading wording: for example, "Apply as Individual" and "Apply as Company" do not seem related to donation. In the “News & Updates" section, users expected to have upcoming news instead of archived blogs. Though users finished tasks successfully, the evaluators recommended MFTA to consider renaming some labels in the iteration process.
Membership is not necessary for attending events: one participant suggested, “For taking part in activities, you could even create a guest account for temporary or new users.” The membership would be useful only for returning users - people who will attend multiple events.
INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE UNCLEAR AND MISLEADING
Placing MFTA Gallery” under the “What's Happening” section is confusing, because gallery is not temporary.
"Donate Funds" and "Donate Materials" are harder to differentiate for first time users.
“News & Updates” makes less sense because its content are all happened in the past.
Reorganize the site map and group similar content together.
Move "MFTA Gallery" to "About"
Merge "Donate Funds" and "Donate Materials" to "Donate"
Rename "News & Updates” to “Archive"
NEWS & EVENTS
LACKS SORTING AND DATE VISIBILITY
According to participants’ user testing results, there is no need to have a calendar for the News & Updates section, but users hope to have a more purposeful and targeted ranking metric. Below are some scenarios a potential user might find frustrating with the current design:
Sally wants to search for an upcoming event related to art education (sort by category), but she has to go through all available posts and look for relevant keywords, and is exhausted. In the end, she might not even find any with her specific interest.
Kenny heard about a workshop which occurred in January (visualize date) and he wants to learn more about it, but he cannot because the date is not labeled on the news page.
Jennifer sees an upcoming event she is interested in through the weekly newspaper, and went to the Calendar of Events page and was glad to see a list of upcoming events, but was curious why there isn’t a calendar in the Calendar of Events page immediately available. She also would like a faster way to express interest in multiple events.
There is a one-click sign-up for events for users with accounts (and for users like Jennifer who want to efficiently sign-up for multiple events), which would encourage users to sign up for accounts on the MFTA website, and receive promotional email.
The dates are available with hierarchy to inform users on the dates of upcoming events, which is very important for users interested in attending events.
The users are able to filter and search by date and category, while also allowing them to alternate between a list view and calendar view. We would recommend using a list view if the number of upcoming events are limited in number, and possibly changing the title of the page from “Calendar of Events” if there is no calendar immediately available on this page.
We received very positive feedback from our clients at the Friends of Materials for the Arts. They stated most of the recommendations will be instituted on their revised site.
Working remotely teamwise during the pandemic was challenging since half of the team was on the other side of the globe. We made it work through "asynchronous" discussions and Google suite collaboration tools.
Remote interviewing can be very challenging since some users feel less comfortablediscussing their motivations and behavior through a video chat. I personally hoped the surveys and tasks could be shorter and easier to comprehend to enhance the usability testing experience for remote testing.
GETTING IT RIGHT BEFORE THE TEST
Pilot testing really ensured the quality and smoothness for the participants, and the findings saved both the moderators and the participants a lot of time. We were able to fix misleading or extra wordings in the tasks.