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Taking Our Own Advice: Usability in Practice

We have completed a number of usability assessments for the AIDS.gov website. However, when we were writing our latest blog post about usability, we realized we neglected to check in with our readers on the blog site. We had not assessed the usability of our own blog. Yikes!

But the great thing about a blog is that it is easy to test usability–all you have to do is ask your readers, and it’s never too late to ask!

Within three days, we had developed an informal feedback form and heard from a small group of our visitors. (As we noted last week, "experts have confirmed that you can get useful feedback from 5 or 6 users.")

We asked our users:

  1. What information did you expect to obtain from the AIDS.gov blog?
  2. How helpful has the information provided by the AIDS.gov blog been for you?
  3. How clear is the information provided?
  4. How easy is it to navigate the AIDS.gov blog?
  5. What else would you like to see on the AIDS.gov blog?

What We Learned
Our respondents found the information we provide to be helpful and easy to navigate. However, they said the blog wasn’t what they expected when they first visited. "I like the focus on new technology (wikis, RSS feeds, etc.), but thought I would also get program-related content (e.g., information on specific HIV/AIDS programs and policies)."

Users said they appreciated the new media focus. "I hear buzz words all the time, and now I can read what they really mean…" Another said: "Very informative and on a topic (new technology) that I wouldn’t have thought I needed."

Our respondents repeatedly asked for more HIV-specific resources and personal accounts of how new technologies are changing HIV programming. They also asked for links to other government blogs and information about other government new media efforts.

Finally, they told us that the graphic we use for our exit disclaimers was distracting.

Now What?
The key to improving usability is to listen–and to respond–to your users. In the next few weeks, our blog posts will respond to our visitors’ comments. We will:

  • Include at least two examples of new media being used directly in the fight against HIV/AIDS in each post. (But we need your help… send examples!)
  • Change the exit disclaimer graphic.
  • Modify the way we describe the blog, so that readers will know immediately that we are blogging about ways to use new media in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Resources
Our team referred to the resources we mentioned in last week’s post, Usability – Websites and Beyond and found them to be helpful.

In closing, we are reminded of one of our favorite quotes by usability expert Steve Krug Exit Disclaimer: "How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?"

Asking for feedback is one of those ways that we try to do our jobs just a bit better–in the hope that you can use something you find here to combat HIV/AIDS in the communities, or among the individuals, you serve. Feel free to send us your feedback anytime.

For our next post on March 4 we will report back on the Texting 4 Health Conference Exit Disclaimer and how it applies to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

About AIDS.gov

Comments

  1. … I think that’s why blogs are so popular and powerful…I’m always amazed how much I learn from readers too. Looking forward to more info from your blog.

  2. It would be helpful to me if you gave the user a choice of using large text print.

  3. AIDS.GOV says:

    Thank you Thomas for your comment. We are currently looking into this matter, we appreciate your feedback.

  4. KD Patrick says:

    This is a great service. I would like to encourage people to consider helping people living in a forgotten part of the world: the U.S. affiliated Pacific region–American Samoa, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam–which suffers enormous health disparities due in part to limited Federal assistance, and in part due to the post-colonial era per capita income: for example, it is only $2,900 in the Marshall Islands, and $2,300 in the Federated States of Micronesia. For comparison, the U.S. per capita income is $46,000. Even a small donation to the GUAHAN Project (http://www.guahanproject.org/index.php)–the regional AIDS service organization–can make a huge difference in stemming the tide of HIV in these small, culturally rich enclaves that could be destroyed by HIV/AIDS.

  5. AIDS.gov says:

    We’re pleased to let you know that we implemented this feature last week (take at look at
    http://blog.AIDS.gov).
    We appreciate your taking the time to comment our blog. Our readers’ comments continue to inspire and inform our work at AIDS.gov.

  6. Web Design says:

    There are some basic rules for any blogger which should be followed to make blog success. The rules are always
    * blog on the niche in which you have relevant information
    * Keep the readers busy
    * Proper use of Spellings and grammar
    * Use pictures related to topic for readers.
    These are some basic points which should be kept in mind while blogging.

  7. blogfixes says:

    1. What information did you expect to obtain from the AIDS.gov blog?
    I was expecting to read some articles about AIDS.
    2. How helpful has the information provided by the AIDS.gov blog been for you?
    It was very helpful and informative.. I appreciate the less quantity of posts but more quality posts..
    3. How clear is the information provided?
    Information is Very clear.
    4. How easy is it to navigate the AIDS.gov blog?
    Well, for me as an advanced Internet user. I do not have trouble navigating through the pages. But I think for the majority of users it is on a satisfactory level.
    5. What else would you like to see on the AIDS.gov blog?
    For me, I just come to read articles and news about Aids and Hiv.

  8. jamie says:

    1. What information did you expect to obtain from the AIDS.gov blog?
    informative articles
    2. How helpful has the information provided by the AIDS.gov blog been for you?
    Fairly informative
    3. How clear is the information provided?
    Very clear, easy to read.
    4. How easy is it to navigate the AIDS.gov blog?
    As easy as it is to navigate any other blog
    5. What else would you like to see on the AIDS.gov blog?
    cant think of anything

  9. 1. What information did you expect to obtain from the AIDS.gov blog?
    Any information regarding latest medicines and testing policy of AIDS.
    2. How helpful has the information provided by the AIDS.gov blog been for you?
    It is really helpful to all socially conscious people.
    3. How clear is the information provided?
    Contents are clear and easily understandable.
    4. How easy is it to navigate the AIDS.gov blog?
    Very easy. It is like child’s play.
    5. What else would you like to see on the AIDS.gov blog?
    More interesting articles on the precautions of AIDS.

  10. Pamela Scoot says:

    The best way to fight out AIDS is to conscience people.
    So AIDS.gov should always concentrate on making awareness about AIDS. AIDS.gov must focus on how can we prevent AIDS and what is our moral duties to AIDS victims. I have full faith on AIDS.gov and wishing its acceptance in vast people.

  11. Ben says:

    It would be awesome if all blog owners would spell out what they’re about like you’ve done. I like how you’ve analyzed your feedback and what you’ve learned.