Beta testing the AOR viewer – user feedback
Overview of Testing
Over the span of four weeks (June 28–July 31, 2016), beta testers were invited to provide feedback on their experience with viewing and manipulating digital surrogates of the 13 books within the Archaeology of Reading corpus using an optimized version of the Mirador image viewer for this purpose at http://bookwheel.org/demo. This blog post summarizes the user experience feedback and proposed response by the AOR technology development team.
A pool of 50 volunteer testers representing a range from minimal to moderate familiarity with the early modern marginalia, reading practices, and the history of the book more generally was identified by the AOR leadership team. Instructions were provided to assist with locating controls and describing the basic functions of the viewer to acclimate beta testers prior to full user project documentation completion scheduled for end of August 2016. There was no restriction on choice of device to be used to complete the test (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop). The evaluation was unmoderated and consisted of five questions intended to capture relative levels of ease and difficulty in finding specific kinds of information, and efficiency in navigating the user interface elements in the viewer. Testers were asked to evaluate the Search capability and the Text Visualization features in particular, and their experience interacting with multiple, simultaneous window openings in the viewer. Beta testers were also invited to provide specific comments and recommendations about using the viewer in general terms at the conclusion of the test.
Findings and Response
34 testers submitted responses. Their comments and recommendations were categorized and ranked according to technical feasibility of content and implementation within the current phase of the overall AOR project.
The majority of initial reactions were positive.
• “Images are very crisp.”
• “The browsing is easy and fast.”
• “Overall comment on the site: fantastic! I love the smooth experience, clear images, and uncomplicated and well-designed feel of the individual image windows.”
• “The digital images are of great quality. I appreciate having multiple options for viewing them (book form, individual page, scroll view).”
Beta tester feedback recommendations will be addressed in upcoming viewer releases, and future development cycles, such as the following:
• “The information drop-down has to be closed manually, if left open it covers up the annotations dropdown. This is a bit distracting.” – (Now available in version 2.1 of the AOR Phase 1 viewer)
• “I’d love to be able to right click on a page and open it in a new window, not just from search results but when looking at all pages in a book especially.; The ‘change layout’ button is really helpful with this, but I’d also like the ability to open something in a brand new tab – this would be especially helpful as I have two screens, so I have the space, just not all within one browser tab.” (New feature for AOR Phase 2 development)
• “It’d be great to be able to ‘pin’ a page open (sort of like pinning window views in oXygen) or add a page to a ‘keep this’ shelf – even if it was only retained during that session.” (New feature for AOR Phase 2 development)
• “It would be good to do an empty search for the items in the drop-down in advanced search without search content specified.” (Planned for AOR Phase 2 development)
• “Superb detail for the taxonomies provided (symbol, mark, language). Would it be an idea to publish definitions in a thesaurus accompanying entry to the site?” (Now available in AOR Phase 1 user documentation)
• “I appreciate that names and titles referenced in the annotations are broken out individually. It would be useful and interesting if those would be hyperlinks leading to a search result of all instances when the names/titles are referenced across the whole collection.” (New feature for AOR Phase 2 development)
• “Also, the resource is extraordinary, but the user unfamiliar with these authors or with Harvey will be at a loss on how to use it without the provision of some kind of framework or introductory essay(s) of some kind.” (Now available in AOR Phase 1 user documentation)
There were no comments that indicated any beta tester could not recover from an error condition.
In general, AOR Phase 1 beta testers requested more in-depth knowledge of the viewer capabilities, particularly those unfamiliar with the authors and books included in the Phase 1 corpus of annotation books. This will be addressed in forthcoming user documentation, including an in-depth introduction to the authors, texts, bibliographical details of the specific books in the digital corpus, and a broader taxonomy of annotations, among other topics.
The project team is appreciative of the feedback from beta testers. A second round of feedback will be gathered in future AOR Phase 2 project development.