Research Results: Testing Robertson Media Center and equipment checkout webpages

UX-3833, Guerrilla test Robertson Media Center pages and equipment request process

Purpose: Assess usability and clarity of new RMc pages and equipment checkout pages

Stakeholders: users and staff

Testing date: 8/31/18

Participants: 5 UVA students

Methodology: “Guerrilla” testing, in which UX staff, some in tyrannosaurus Rex costume, invite students entering Clemons Library to spend 10 minutes of their time to improve a library web page. Coffee and danishes offered to all passers-by.

RMC site:

LibCal RMC equipment site:

Project phase one deliverables were to create a landing page and second-level pages. Based on the content, design, and architecture, users are to be able to understand the following:

  • Who the space is for (students, faculty, community members)
  • What services and equipment/spaces are available to whom and how to obtain them
  • This is a place for making, learning, and teaching

The protocol was developed to elicit responses to assess if the goals were met, and to test the response to wording for equipment check out that does not require reserving in advance.


  • After perusing the content and images of the landing page, participants were asked what the space is for, and to describe the space using three adjectives. Their answers reflect a space for making and creating, equipment to use and check out, and help when needed.
    • Four out of five testers described the space as “high-tech” or “technological.” The specific terms “creative,” “useful,” “3-D,” “VR,” “studio,” “check-out,” and “advanced media” suggest that the participants see a space for using and exploring new technologies.
    • Participants used the terms “knowledgeable,” “helpful,” and “supportive,” and phrases such as “people to help,” “assists students,” “help you with stuff,” “classroom,” “tutorial,” “tech support,” and “equipment troubleshooting,” all of which convey help, learning, and teaching.
    • One participant offered that “faces and names [under heading, ‘Who We Are’] makes people more approachable.”
    • Other terms reflect favorably on the environment: “modern,” “variety,” “expansive,” “fresh,” “eclectic.”
  • Four out of five participants correctly identified UVA students and faculty as the audience focus for the RMC. One participant thought RMC might be limited to “STEM or media studies majors.” Two participants also mentioned access by “the public” and “anybody outside UVA” but that they wouldn’t be primary users.
  • No discernible problems with participants correctly interpreting the meaning of terms “No Reservations” or “First come, first served.” Similarly, the RMC equipment page heading, “Walk-up Equipment,” seems to provide enough context to be correctly understood. However, several participants expressed that they also assumed they’d be able to use equipment without training, or that there would be no lengthy check out procedure, or that there would be no need to sign out equipment at all. We recommend avoiding idioms and colloquialisms that may lead to confusion and misunderstanding, particularly for non-native English speakers. To ensure clarity we recommend using plain language phrasing, either “No reservations required” or “No reservations needed,” to be used consistently throughout the RMC and equipment request sites. Additionally, because “Walk-up Equipment” is easily misinterpreted, we recommend changing “Walk-up Equipment” to “No reservations equipment” or similar. Also please review the categories under that heading (for instance, video equipment and cameras must be reserved so instead belong under the heading, “Reservable equipment). Instead of “Browse the equipment collection” button use text more actionable like “Check out equipment” or “Use Equipment.”
  • After having reviewed the RMC landing and second-level pages, participants largely correctly identified who the space is for and what goes on there. Participants were then shown the Equipment page and asked: “If you wanted to use a camera, what would you do next?” Three participants initially thought they would have to go to the RMC desk to check out a camera, and one participant wondered if he needed to use equipment in-house. Four out of five had to be directed to click on “Browse the Equipment Collection” to make a reservation online. Three saw the text, “Training & Reservation Required” and another thought they should search online for a tutorial. All participants saw the links for “Availability” and “More details” but two participants were still unclear what to do next. Most participants clicked on “More details” but didn’t read any of the text. They all saw the calendar and figured out the process of selecting a date by clicking on a green box and logging in via Netbadge. One participant expressed confusion about the difference between red and grey boxes on the calendar, and the use of the term “padding.”
    • Recommendations for all LibCal equipment items, based on above results: Hide “Availability” since reservations can be made under “More details.” Change “More details” to a button, “Use this equipment” that users will see as an actionable thing. Review content and messaging about requirements and training on item pages to reduce amount of text. Highlight the Instructions tab (which no test participant clicked on). Describe specifications of equipment separately from the process to train and check out. Use short, declarative bulleted lists rather than prose to improve clarity and make text more skimmable.


  Question Rationale
1 [Have tester examine the RMC page at]
Based on the contents of this page, what is the Robertson Media Center?
What is this space for?
2 Who can use it? Why do you think that? Who is this space for?
3 What are three adjectives you would use to describe this space? What does the page evoke (friendly, techie, diverse, inclusive, bright…)?
4 [Direct attention to /equipment and to “Walk-up Equipment”]
What does this mean to you?
Probe: How would you describe it in your own words?
(on-demand, walk-up, something else?)
Does walk-up or on-demand resonate? If not, what does resonate?
5 If you wanted to use a camera, what would you do next? Assess understanding of how to get training and how to reserve
Do they see/read “Training & Res Req”?
Go to Equipment
Go to Browse the equipment collection
View More Details or Availability
6 [Go to Location = Brown or Music]
Based on the contents of this page, what can you do here?
[Focus on Dry Erase Markers or Microphone and descriptions]
What can you do here?
How would you describe it in your own words?
Do they see “No Reservations” or Do they see “First Come…”
Do they understand it
Do they click on Availability
Are they confused?
7 How would you rate your ease in using this page, where 1 is very difficult and 5 is very easy? Evaluate overall ease in using the LibCal equipment page.


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