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MPOW Seeks Search Engine Evaluators

(This is the 1,000th entry in Free Range Librarian!)

The new search engine has been through its most rudimentary review at a super-secret hidden test server for My Place Of Work, and we’re now looking for people willing to give anywhere from five minutes to a half hour or longer next week to attempt tasks, comment on labeling and organization, and answer specific questions we have. (Different people will see different iterations; some will see live iterations and others will see screen captures. You’ll also answer an extremely short survey.)

We have a lot of flexibility in our content organization through the new search engine, and we’re trying to offer new features and functionality but balanced with usability and general aesthetic niceness.

This is a fun opportunity for anyone from MPOW long-timers to folks who don’t visit the site that much if ever. (The entire spectrum is useful to us… and resembles what we used in our last formal usability test.) The top ten evaluators (don’t ask how we’ll decide that–it’s a secret algorithm!) will get their pick of SWAG (up to but not including the somewhat pricey running suit).

We can’t afford “real” usability testing this time around (that is, using a usability expert who would put together a formal evaluation, the way we did in Spring 2005), but we have the questions used in that evaluation as well as a few questions specific to this evaluation. We’ve also skimmed off the no-brainer problems and have a list of known problems we’re addressing, but I could tell we were ready to broaden the evaluation. Most of our questions had shifted from “This needs fixing” or “that looks good” to “Which is best: A, B, or C?” or “Is that the right label?”

To volunteer, contact me at my MPOW address, kgs@ el eye eye dot org.

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