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Eyebeam is a non-profit arts organization located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Its mission is to “provide both space and support for a community of diverse, justice-driven artists” (Eyebeam, 2018). In autumn 2018, Eyebeam was planning to change its website design and asked Pratt Institute for help in terms of assessing what is currently working well and what could be improved. Group of 3 researchers performed the in-person, moderated usability testing and presented the results in the form of a report.
Our research had 4 objectives, identified together with Eyebeam - to evaluate:
first impressions of Eyebeam’s site;
how users find residency information;
how users find events;
and how they sign up for the newsletter.
Research Methods: Interviews, Questionnaire, Observations
Duration of the Project: 8 weeks (autumn 2018)
We used Moderated Usability Testing Method accompanied by a set of pre-test and post-test questions. The test has been performed using the desktop version of the site. The pre-test questions aimed to get a better understanding of the users themselves.
Tasks were corresponding to the research objectives and were accompanied by two questions:
On the scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (difficult), how do you evaluate the difficulty of the task?
Do you have any suggestions or observations based your experience with this task?
Seven users evaluated the website and responded to the online post-test questionnaire which was based on the modified System Usability Scale (SUS).
The SUS scale was accompanied by 3 open ended questions, which were asked by the
1. Please name 3 things which you liked the most about the website.
2. Please name 3 things which you liked the least about the website.
3. Can you give us some suggestions for how the website could be improved?
After each of the usability tests, the researchers added their notes to a table allowing them to analyse the available data. The table has following columns: Issue, Recommendation, Task Number, User Success, Participants who had this problem, Quotes, and Comments.
When the table was filled with the data, the researchers merged similar issues. This allowed them to distinguish 8 individual issues. Two issues were excluded from this report for lack of severity.
Afterwards, each researcher graded the issue using Severity Ranking for Usability Problems, as presented in the chart below. After grading, the final Severity Ranking based on the average of the researchers scores and the frequency of the issue was established.
Based on the severity rankings, the researchers focused on fixing 4 issues, which were categorized under the following categories: What is Eyebeam, Residency, Events, and Newsletter. Each researcher prepared recommendations aiming to increase the usability of the website in these 4 areas.
Additionally, test participants graded each task they completed using the System Usability Scale (SUS). The final usability score was calculated based on the method presented in the article “How to use the System Usability Scale (SUS) to evaluate the usability of your website” (Nathan, T., 2015).
Findings & Recommendations
The users appreciated the look of Eyebeam’s website and its content. They found it to be aesthetically pleasing, and positively commented on the design of the site, including the chosen images. A couple participants also responded positively to Eyebeam’s values, which are listed at the bottom of the homepage:
“I liked the site; the pictures were nice.” “I liked that the format was readable.”
Users are unsure what Eyebeam does
The first task testing participants were given was to comment on the overall impression they had of Eyebeam’s website. While most participants has positive comments about the images and look of the site, the overall theme that emerged was one of confusion. Several users scrolled up and down the homepage, and were unable to definitively say what Eyebeam did.
“It says it’s an entry point, but I don’t know what that means.”
Recommendation 1a: Explicitly describe what Eyebeam does on the homepage
Swap out the main quote above the fold on the homepage with an explicit description of what Eyebeam does, and minimize homepage image size. This will allow the user to view the homepage as a scrollable feed of information that serves to signify all of the things Eyebeam does.
Recommendation 1b: Label each content item on the homepage, and use only one line for each in the homepage feed.
Each content item in the feed on the homepage should be labelled to associate it with a category. For example, events in the feed should have the label “Events” above their title; any content items related to Programs, Workshops, Residency, or ECFJ should also be thusly labeled.
Use only one line for each content item in homepage feed; we envision the homepage as a single column feed. Following the recommendations made above, the content item on the homepage introducing the 2019 residents should display a group photo, and the multiple resident blocks below should be moved to interior page one level below
Residency information & requirements are very difficult to find and unclear.
For the Residency category, users were asked to find information and requirements as a residency applicant. All users found difficulty in locating and understanding information and requirements about residencies due to information spread across multiple pages, including some pages only accessible through secondary pages, and unfamiliar terminology (like Open Call). A few users could not complete the task. Users also had difficulty finding information on how to apply for a residency.
"I’m having a bit of trouble finding what you’re asking for me to find."
Recommendation 2a: Simplify and consolidate Residency information
The “What We Do” page can be removed from the homepage as it can be simplified with a drop-down submenu from “What We Do” in the global menu that links directly to the respective pages for Residency, Eyebeam Center for Journalism (ECFJ), Programs, Hands on Learning.
The Residency page can be streamlined and clarified by removing the “Access Residents” section as Access Residents are already included in the “Residents” section. Update “Open Call” to the more simply understood “Application Process” and add a link to the Residency Applicants FAQs so all residency information can be sourced from this one Residency page.
Recommendation 2b: Clarify the Residency application process
To clarify the Residency Application process, as mentioned above, change “Open Calls” to the more easily understood “Application Process.” Add buttons for additional details as not all users understood the Open Call Theme titles were links. Add an “Apply Here” button or “closed” status next to each theme to help users understand when a residency is taking applications or not. Narrow the colored bar in the submenu so it is more easily recognizable as a menu of options, as several users didn’t even notice the sub-menu.
Users do not notice future events
Eyebeam’s event page changed around the 29th of November, 2018. Previously, no Upcoming events were listed. Therefore, all 5 users who took the test before the 24th of November, 2018 encountered problems with finding events. They did not realize that the Welcome Wednesday, Eyebeam Assembly and Eyebeam Exchange are recurring events. Users were browsing for Events in the About and News sections of the site. Eventually, the majority of them realized that Newsletter is the main channel via which users receive information about future events.
Recommendation 3a: Add a calendar
A calendar can be added, which will allow users to plan their visit in Eyebeam. Previously, users were not sure when various events take place and they were missing an overview of all events.
Recommendation 3b: Exchange the categories of recurring events with event tiles
The description of recurring events was usually overlooked, as all tested users were first scrolling through the page and looking at the tiles of events. Instead, reoccuring programs can be added as individual events to the calendar and the list of Upcoming events.
Recommendation 3c: Make past events less prominent
Past events should be less prominent. It is suggested to either make the tiles smaller, change their color to grey or move them slightly below Upcoming events. This will help users to distinguish them from events which will happen in the future. Moreover, it is suggested to limit the number of the past events to 3 or maximum 6. This will help user to focus on the current work of Eyebeam.
Users do not notice all newsletter sign-up fields
Currently, users appreciate the general design of the website and all of them managed to sign up for the newsletter. However, it looks like there is room for improvement. Two test participants expressed the same concern - they first clicked the Subscribe button first and only afterwards noticed that they are required to submit their First name, Last name, and their Email address. This procedure seemed to be slightly complicated for them.
Recommendation 4: Simplify newsletter sign-up to a single button
It is recommended to remove the fields: First name, Last name and Email and instead emphasise the button Subscribe. After clicking on Subscribe, users should receive a form allowing them to add their email address. This will simplify the procedure and will limit users confusion.
Eyebeam is an organization supporting artists in their work related to the future and technology. Eyebeam’s site has been tested by 7 users representing one of Eyebeam’s main audience:
emerging artists interested in technology.
All users appreciated Eyebeam’s mission, however, not always were they able to find out how to interact with Eyebeam and engage with its work, either via signing up for a newsletter, taking part in its events or becoming part of its residency program.
The researchers prepared recommendations for the encountered issues aiming to mitigate the problems and promote Eyebeam’s programs. Thanks to the implementation of proposed recommendations, users should have a clearer idea about what Eyebeam does. Users will experience less frustration with the site and its navigation.
The outcome of implementing these recommendations would resonate with Eyebeam’s vision of creating a community of diverse, justice-driven artists.