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User-centered design and usability testing of a web site: An illustrative case study


Administrators at a large midwestern university recognized that their World Wide Web site was rapidly becoming an important factor in recruiting new students. They also expected this Web site to serve many different types of information needs for existing students, faculty, staff, and alumni. an interdisciplinary team of faculty, graduate students, and staff was formed to evaluate the existing Web site. A group from this team first conducted a needs analysis to determine the kinds of information the target population was seeking. This analysis led to the creation of a new information structure for the Web site. Usability tests of the both the new and old designs were conducted on paper. Users were able to find answers to frequently asked questions much more rapidly and successfully with the new information structure. This structure was further refined through additional usability tests conducted on the Web itself. This descriptive case study illustrates the value of user-centered design and usability testing of World Wide Web sites.

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Special thanks should be given to Elizabeth Boling for her help in preparing this manuscript.

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Corry, M.D., Frick, T.W. & Hansen, L. User-centered design and usability testing of a web site: An illustrative case study. ETR&D 45, 65–76 (1997).

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  • Graduate Student
  • Information Structure
  • Target Population
  • World Wide
  • Educational Technology