Usable Or Useful?

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Information about Usable Or Useful?

Published on January 7, 2009

Author: annegrete


Danmarks Statistik, Formidlingscenter 7. januar 2009 Databanker AWU/- Til IMAODBC 1-5 September 2008, Finland Usable or useful? How to make users aware how to manoeuvre through the databank? By Annegrete Wulff, Statistics Denmark Statistics Denmark carries out user satisfaction surveys annually as well as usability Background tests now and then. The results do not differ a lot over time although the general satisfaction tends to increase slightly. One statement that we meet year after year is the trouble users have to find the information they need. Another is a lack of “down-to-earth” definition of the concepts. There is no doubt the StatBank is used by a lot of users, approximately 2,000,000 tables are retrieved yearly. The general satisfaction is quite high: 85-90 % finds it satisfactory or very satisfactory. So we conclude that it is useful. However, still one third are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the trouble they have finding a table. So the usefulness should be further looked into. I have listed the five functions that were evaluated highest, as well as the five functions that got the lowest score. Total number of respondents is 1,100. Satisfied and Very satisfied Don’t know StatBank in general 85,6 % 7,2 % Content 84,0 % 8,0% Respons time 74,4 % 19,7% Degree of detail 74,3 % 9,1% Download possibilities 69,9 % 22,8% Unsatisfied and Very Don’t know unsatisfied Finding the right table 29,5 % 6,9 % Documentation related to a table 19,8 % 14,6 % Degree of detail 16,5 % 9,1 % Help 12,7 % 54,4 % Presentation on maps 9,6 % 43,0 % We see two huge challenges: 1. Defining the concepts- and selecting the concepts that require definition. 2. Making it clear to the user what the possibilities are, the functionality and how to access the information the user was looking for. Challenge 1) a project on improving the documentation for the non- professionals started this year, and will not be further reported in this presentation. Challenge 2) how to guide the user through the StatBank will be discussed. Possible solutions will be outlined as well as experience from other organisations will be called for. /home/pptfactory/temp/usable-or-useful-1231359589571070-1/usable-or- useful-1231359589571070-1.doc

Some problems the user faces on her way to get statistics: How to get an overview of the content? What can I expect to find?  Trial and error: using the subject area structure.  Terminology: using the search engine. Selecting table a), b) or c)? What is the difference? How to select parts from the large table?  Do I have to mark selections or can I key ENTER?  Is ALL really all or is it a sum of all? How can I know it is the right table?  Documentation?  Someone to talk to?  Any online help? Can I download? Setting up a profile- how and why? Saving and re-using queries Experiences and proposed solutions As a follow-up to usability tests of the StatBank improvements have been developed over the years. However, we still experience that some users are in difficulties when they are retrieving statistics. We do have a context sensitive help facility. It is comprehensive but used very little. If they did they would be able to find answers to questions like the above mentioned. Many users do not even realize that it exists. 2

Help info on selecting from this window When a user calls Statistics Denmark to get assistance finding some data we try to guide her through the StatBank. This seems most helpful and usually results in comments like “Oh, now I see it. That is super- just what I needed”. Of course in the long run we can not guide all users. And my guess is that only very few of the unsuccessful users do call us. So the question is what to do to support the helpless rest? We have been considering different solutions: Putting up a “task line” indicating the steps you need to pass to get a table and highlighting the actual step you are in. It gives the user an overview of what she has to go through. It is often used on sites were you order a product, buy tickets etc. Another possibility would be to add a voice explaining what the user can do at each new page. It should be optional to activate it. From each page there could be a link to a selection of screen dumps with examples. A demo on You Tube has been suggested as well. A possibility to activate a guided video tour, which is always available. This is one of the solutions we plan to experiment with during the autumn. The software Demobuilder is already at hand 3

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