Apples and Oranges: Lessons From a Usability Study of Two Library FAQ Web Sites

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Conference Presentation

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The William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) conducted a usability study to test Springshare’s LibAnswers product against “How Do I,” our own FAQ (frequently asked questions) web page. Our “How Do I” page featured a set of static links organized by broad category. LibAnswers is a hosted web platform allowing libraries to build a knowledge base that is searchable by keyword or browsable by topic. If a LibAnswers search does not return an answer, users can submit a question and will receive an email response; library staff may then also add the question/answer pair to the public knowledge base. The objective of our usability study was to identify the features of each library FAQ web site that students preferred, and the features that led to better performance. We began with the hypothesis that user preference and performance would favor LibAnswers, and sought to select the more effective of the two sites based on our findings.