Home / My Work / Usability Testing & Recommendations for a Business/Finance NGO

The Project

First Children’s Finance is a nonprofit organization that serves childcares in the Midwest with business training, management and financial resources, and loan funding opportunities. I was on a team that conducted a user study on firstchildrensfinance.org as part of a graduate seminar on Usability Testing. After completing the study, my group wrote recommendations on how First Children’s Finance could improve the UX of their website.

The Team / My Role

Photo Credit: wocintechchat.com

The seminar course that prompted this usability study was designed to teach students about the types of research methods available for user-centered design and encourage adoption of different roles throughout the research process.

Some of roles I took on throughout the course of the seminar were interviewer, transcriber, script-writer, timer, note-taker, moderator, and findings presenter.

The team-focused aspect of the course was invaluable; seeing my colleagues in the different roles allowed me to learn from their strengths so that later, I could build a more successful study (and therefore design a better UX).

The Usability Study

Background

Unlike other user studies I’ve done, I was mostly unfamiliar with First Children’s Finance and their website prior to this project. Doing background research was essential for me and my team to design a usability study that accurately measured how people use firstchildrensfinance.org.

I interviewed one of the management staff at First Children’s Finance to learn about the company’s mission and website purpose, as well as their goals for study. My teammates also interviewed childcare providers to learn about their preferences and behaviors online.

After writing a first draft of the usability testing script, we ran a pilot test and then made adjustments to improve its flow and measurability.

Participants & Methods

We tested with four individuals who owned either home or community daycare centers. My team used Morae Recorder with a webcam to capture participant facial expressions, mouse clicks, page changes, and time spent.

Usability Study Participant Characteristics

During each usability test, we provided the participant with six scenario-based goals that a daycare owner may want to do on firstchildrensfinance.org. We also asked about initial impressions of the website and, after completing the test, what they knew about First Children’s Finance.

Participant Initial Impressions of FirstChildrensFinance.org

Results

Most of the usability problems we encountered fell into three categories: labeling/use of jargon, confusing navigation structure, and missing or incomplete information.

The Recommendations

Based on our results, my team came up with around 10 recommendations on how First Children's Finance could improve the usability of their website.

Recommendations for Improving FirstChildrensFinance.org

We also prioritized the recommendations based on severity, which was a combined score of a task's importance (according to First Children's Finance) and the likelihood that a participant would encounter a problem if it weren't addressed.

After we wrote up our complete Usability Test report, I ventured out to the First Children's Finance office to present our findings and recommendations. I had been hesitant at first, unsure of how criticism would be received by an organization that didn't hire to do a usability study on their website.

As it turns out, I didn't need to be worried at all. At the lunch-and-learn style presentation I gave, most of the staff was nodding their heads along with the results and recommendations that had come out of our study.

One of the aspects of user research that I really appreciate is that it's so easy to understand. All of us are users, and it's not difficult to relate to seeing others interact with and occasionally struggle with technology: we all do that. And that empathy is something we should always strive for in technology design.