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Date: 7-9-2019

To: USGS

From: Group D

Subject: Accessing Current Conditions Water - Quality Data

This report reviews a basic set of instructions to access the current conditions of water quality Deleted: through the
data. The instructions mainly focus on navigating through the site, but neglect to explain each Deleted: the
step in detail. We conducted a usability test with four subjects to assess how the average Deleted: without
person uses these instructions and gathered feedback on improvements that could be made. Deleted: ing
After testing and questioning our subjects, we created a revised set of instructions that we
Deleted: in
believe will create a better experience for the reader.
Deleted: each step
Deleted: Hence,
Summary Deleted: w
Deleted: students
We tested the usability of the “How do I access current conditions water-quality data?” Deleted: gather
instructions. Although test subjects liked some aspects, like the color scheme and plain
Deleted: information on
language, the feedback was generally negative. They thought that the page design could use
Deleted: general publi
some work, and the text and images were difficult to see. Many things are hard to find and the
Deleted: c
last two steps are difficult to complete. We recommend updating the page to fix these issues.
Deleted: finds the set of instructions helpful/unhelpful.
Taking answers from the questions asked, we came up
Test Objectives with a better set of instructions.
Deleted: y generally thought it was awful
The usability test was intended to assess the integrity of water quality locating instructions on Deleted: is poorly designed
the USGS website, in terms of user difficulty. Some focal points of this test included formatting Deleted: everything is too small
of the pages, tables, and graphs; color scheme and text size; location and accuracy of Deleted:
necessary information; and overall difficulty of information. Some details of this study are Deleted:
included in the subjects’ questionnaire, allowing subjects to give input on their personal
experience and suggestions for improvement. Those suggestions play a major role in pairing Deleted:
with our objectives for a final modification of the instructions.

Results

Areas of Strength Deleted: s

Many subjects found the color scheme of the website appealing to the eye. The steps were Deleted: eye.The
mostly short and concise. The font and font size did contribute to the readability and the Deleted: to the point
accessibility of the document. The absence of technical jargon also helped put the website on
the good side of the test subjects.
Areas for Improvement Deleted: s

The subjects spent an average of 3.75 minutes going through the instructions. Two of our test Deleted: students
subjects quit before finishing the final step, which was the most difficult step by far according to
them. Some of the subjects even forgot what their goal was before reaching the final step. All of Deleted: students
them had difficulties trying to find objects, such as the drop-down box in step two. Most of the Deleted: drop down
links included in the instructions are dead. In step six, a button that was described as saying
“get data” in the instructions said “Go” instead. The subjects also had several complaints
regarding the layout of the instructions; not enough white space, small font, and small images.

Questionnaire

Follow-up questions were divided into open-ended and close-ended sections. Every question
was presented to every test subject. After observing our questionnaire results as a whole, the Moved (insertion) [1]
test subjects found the instructions somewhat adequate at best. Overall, all subjects agreed on
a need for better formatting, clearer delivery, and a thorough update.

Open Ended Questions Formatted: Font: 12 pt

1. Were the instructions easy to follow? Did you come across any difficulties?
2. What would you change regarding the layout of the Current Conditions chart (if
anything)?
3. Did you have any issues with technical jargon? If so, give an example.

Open Ended Results Formatted: Font: Not Bold, Italic


Formatted: Font: Not Bold, Italic
1. Three out of four subjects observed that the first half of the instructions was relatively Deleted: Most
easy compared to the difficult last half.
2. All four subjects commented on the grid spacing of the graph, suggesting the addition of Deleted: o
either whitespace or prominent grid lines to separate graph boxes. Deleted: some
3. Three out of four subjects had no issues with technical jargon, while one commented on Deleted: work
the lack of explanation surrounding terms like “HUC.” Deleted: Some
Deleted: others
Close Ended Questions Formatted: Font: 12 pt

1. How would you rate your experience from 1 (being the worst) to 10 (being the best)?
2. Did you find the layout easy to follow? (yes/no)
3. Did you, ultimately, gain access to your area’s water quality statistics?

Close Ended Results Formatted: Font: Not Bold, Italic


Formatted: Font: Not Bold, Italic
1. The subjects’ answers varied in terms of rating their overall experience, with the lowest
rating at 1.5 out of 10 and the highest at 6 out of 10. Their supporting comments
centered around a degree of difficulty following the instructions.
2. Half of the subjects found the layout relatively easy to follow, dismissing some of the
content itself; the other half heavily critiqued the pages in need of better formatting.
3. The subjects were, again, divided in half - one half arrived to a conclusion with water
statistics on the page, while the other half were unable to accurately locate results.

Moved up [1]: After observing our questionnaire results


as a whole, the test subjects found the instructions
Conclusion somewhat adequate at best. Overall, all subjects
agreed on a need for better formatting, clearer delivery,
This test was designed to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the USGS current water and a thorough update.¶
conditions instruction set. Four random participants followed the instruction set to the best of
their ability and their opinions, difficulties, and verbalizations were documented. After compiling
the responses from each participant, it became clear that each participant was running into the
same problems, some of which completely hindered their ability to complete the instructions.
These problems came in the form of non-working hyperlinks, poor formatting, and discrepancy
between the instructions given and the task being completed. For a government website used to
check local water conditions, issues of this scale are unacceptable and need to be addressed.
Provided are a set of recommendations based on the research conducted that should provide a Deleted: F
good starting point for improving the usability of this site. Deleted: the last step
Deleted: necessary
Recommendations Deleted: as
Deleted: but
Our first recommendation for revision is to update the Hyper Links because most of them were
outdated and resulted in blank searches. Updating the visual aid for step six would be beneficial Deleted: , so that would be a priority
because the webpage has been updated while the instructions have not, resulting in some Deleted: Most of the
confusion. We also recommended a revision to the “Current Conditions” tab because our Deleted: subjects
subjects found it difficult to read the table without grid lines. The amount of whitespace could
Deleted: n
also be reduced or rearranged to accommodate data and make the webpage less “empty”. The
text size could be increased as some subjects had trouble reading it. The instructions refer to Deleted: update
“Click on ‘get data’” to display results whereas, on the webpage, the button is labelled as “Go”, Deleted: ing
which could confuse the reader. One of the subjects did find his way around the website, just to Deleted: s
find that their particular area wasn't listed on the site. Additional region information may need to
Deleted: a grid
be added since some of it isn't available.
Deleted: really does strain the eye
While the instructions page has plenty of links, tabs, and options to follow, the instructions were Deleted: even re-used
our focal point for the usability test. Headings are bolded, dark blue, and weighted heavily to Deleted: should
stand apart from body text and lines are effective in separating steps. There is little technical
Deleted: be made larger
jargon to keep instructions as clear as possible. Some steps outline where the links and buttons
are located for helpful navigation. The “Current Conditions” page contains a table of stations Deleted: difficulty
and a search bar to refine results. This table utilizes all capitalized letters in the body and Deleted: a lot of people
bolded headings. The search bar allows users to group the table by different classifications and Deleted: participants
search for specific sites. The final results page includes a graph of water temperature for the
Deleted: Being a government site, one would expect it
chosen site. The graph employs a few different colors for clarity, along with options for to contain all the information. This proves that there
refinement at the top of the page. The final results page includes a graph of water temperature
Deleted: is
for the chosen site. The graph employs a few different colors for clarity, along with options for
refinement at the top of the page. Most of the subjects weren’t able to find the water quality data Deleted: still information that
because they couldn't understand what the Step 6 actually tasked them to. Even though there Deleted: on the website
was an image attached, it wasn't easy for them to follow. On further investigation, turns out that Deleted: and actions needed to be taken.
the image was outdated, and the instructions needed updating on the visual aids. Since Step 6 Page Break
has an outdated image, and the button says “Go” instead of “get data”, the image should be ¶
updated to reflect this change. Formatted: Font: 11 pt, Not Bold
Deleted: ¶
While the instructions page has plenty of links, tabs,
and options to follow, the instructions were our focal
point for the usability test. Headings are bolded, dark
blue, and weighted heavily to stand apart from body ... [1]

Appendix A - Original Instructions

Deleted:

Deleted:

Deleted:
Deleted: The “Current Conditions” page contains a table
of stations and a search bar to refine results. This
table utilizes all capitalized letters in the body and
bolded headings. The search bar allows users to ... [2]

Deleted:
Deleted: ¶
The final results page includes a graph of water
temperature for the chosen site. The graph employs a
few different colors for clarity, along with options for
refinement at the top of the page.¶
Appendix B - Revised Instructions Deleted: ¶



Page Break

Deleted: ¶
Most of the subjects weren’t able to find the water
quality data because they couldn't understand what the
Step 6 actually tasked them to. Even though there was
an image attached, it wasn't easy for them to follow. On
further investigation, turns out that the image was
outdated and the instructions needed updating on the
visual aids. Here is the updated image:¶


Since Step 6 has an outdated image, and the button
says “Go” instead of “get data”, it should be updated to
look more like this:¶


¶ ... [3]
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