First-Click Case Study

Our partner Gerry McGovern wrote about ‘the vital importance of the first-click’. He cited a study by Web Usability which found that customers who clicked the correct first step in the task were twice as likely to succeed at the task as those who missed that vital first-click.

Not long after that, we launched a first-click study with the Libraries team at a Canadian university, in honor of World Usability Day.  The study identified 3 first-click problems common to many web sites. In this case study, we’ll share the problems and potential solutions.

First-click tests are fast and easy

First-click tests display an image of a web page and a task. The test-taker clicks on that part of the web page (link, graphic, menu, etc.) that they think will help them complete the task. And that’s it! That’s a first-click test. Participants are given a number of tasks to complete. Most tools for first-click testing provide ‘heat maps’ showing which parts of the web page were clicked for each task tested. For this test, we used Optimal Workshop’s Chalkmark tool. 

We provided the library with custom invitation software which intercepted randomly selected visitors to the home page. If a visitor opted to participate, the testing page waited in the background until the visitor finished their task at the library site.

Over 200 people responded to the invitation and took the test. On average, it took participants about 4 minutes to perform ten tasks. We removed the results of participants who completed only one task to reduce the chance of spurious data.  The participants ended up fairly evenly split across undergraduate, graduate student, faculty or staff visitors.  This allowed us to compare results across groups and to filter out staff and faculty responses for important student-oriented tasks.

Case Study Results:  Some visitor groups have lower success rates than others.   

Finding journal articles is the top task for students and faculty at most university libraries. Previous usability testing conducted by Neo Insight with undergraduates at a Canadian university suggested that students would be more successful at finding articles with a federated search that searches all sources together, finding books, articles, theses etc. 

When the results for the ‘Find an Article’ task were broken down by visitor group, it became clear that undergraduates were more likely to use the federated search field and conversely were less likely to select the incorrect Library catalogue search link. 

Simulated Results: Click maps show more Undergraduates click in the federated search field than Staff and Faculty participants.

Search results

First-click tests can identify and solve top task usability problems

Many sites suffer from top task usability problems that could be identified with First-click tests. If you have hints of problems in your analytics but aren’t sure of the cause, First-click tests can be implemented very quickly and easily. Depending on your traffic volumes, enough responses to identify the problem can be collected in a week or less. For lower-volume sites, it may take longer, particularly if you wish to analyze the results by visitor group.

Online options for first-click testing include Chalkmark by Optimal Workshop and Clicktest by Usabilityhub. Contact us at Neo Insight if you need any help with setting up tests or applying the learning from other testing to improve the usability of your site.

For more details on this story, see First-Click Test to find and solve 3 common usability problems



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