Performance Improvement 2004. Usability and focus group testing of the NIH senior health web site


The study evaluated the NIHSeniorHealth web site, which was jointly developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). NIHSeniorHealth is tailored to the cognitive and visual requirements of adults 60 and older and was developed based on NIA’s cognitive aging research. Although the site had undergone testing in the past, NIA and NLM had implemented a few design changes that had to be evaluated before the official launch in October, 2003. Using a representative sample of young-old adults (60-74) and old-old adults (74+), Userworks, Inc, (the contractor) used (1) hands on usability lab testing (2) semi-structured interviews and (3) an online focus group to evaluate the design changes and the ease of navigability the web site. Major findings included the following: 1) In general, participants were able to use the website effectively to find information, 2) participants generally thought that the information was well organized and that the amount of information per page was appropriate. Here are the sections tested, with a sample recommendation for each: 1) Home Page/Main Menu: Most participants said they were fine with the Homepage and Main Menu page in the manner currently implemented, especially because the Homepage had a clear Click to Begin button. Recommendation: In the future, NIA and NLM might consider combining the Homepage and the Main Menu page. 2) Videos: In general, participants thought the videos were a useful feature and liked them. Recommendation: The Click to watch this video link should be moved below the video title. Consider changing the link label to Watch Video. Also, add a progress bar within the video window which indicates the download progress (preferably both percentage complete and time remaining). 3) Text size and contrast buttons: Once located, participants were able to use the Enlarge Text and the High Contrast buttons fairly easily and thought they were useful functions. Recommendation: Consider having separate buttons for Enlarge Text and Reduce Text, and allow users to set a text size (from several text size choices) through these buttons. 4)Speech button: Most people appreciated the speech function, however several participants were confused by the Speech On/Off button. Recommendation: The Speech Off and Speech On buttons should be changed to Turn Speech Off and Turn Speech On. 5) Quiz: Most participants had no trouble answering the quiz. Recommendation: The Click for answer button and label should be made bigger. 6) Visual Appearance: Participants liked the look of the site, especially the large font and the white space. Recommendation: Retain overall look and feel of the site.

PIC ID: 7921
Agency Sponsor: NIH-NIA, National Institute on Aging
Federal Contact: Dailey, Stephanie, 301-496-1754
Performer: UserWorks, Silver Spring, MD

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