Ten Thousand Villages' Website | Usability Evaluation
The evaluation of the Ten Thousand Villages' website took place during January - April of 2009. Key usability findings were revealed using the following methods: Interaction Mapping, Personas and Scenarios, Comparative Evaluation, Heuristic Evaluation, Survey, and Usability Testing. These findings were then reported to the development team in order to recommend future improvements which will result in a better user experience.
Teammates: Gaurav Bhatnagar and Urmila Kashyap
An interaction map was used to understand the flow and interaction of pages of the Ten Thousand Villages' website. Major sections of the site were diagrammed, including the "Shop" section, "Fair Trade" educational sections, and the "About" section. This process highlighted navigational issues that would remain key findings of the entire evaluation.
Personas and Scenarios were developed to better understand the Ten Thousand Villages' customer demographic. Through research and interviews of current customers, volunteers, and the local Ten Thousand Villages' store manager, we developed various personas and scenarios.
University of Michigan Junior, studying American literature & Creative Writing
- 20 years old, female
- Grew up in Boston, MA with parents and 2 brothers, Ben, 24, and John, 18
- Currently living in Ann Arbor where she attends University and works at a local coffee shop, Sweetwaters
- Sarah is comfortable on computers as a user only, and mostly uses her computer for word processing and photo editing.
- She currently uses a MacBook which her parents bought for her when she began college
- She enjoys using her Mac because of how intuitive the programs seem to be and because it is trendy.
- Sarah does some shopping online. She enjoys spending evenings browsing a few of her favorite stores: Anthropologie, JCrew, Ten Thousand Villages, Banana Republic.
- Sarah especially enjoys shopping online because she loves coming home to a package at her doorstep.
- Sarah enjoys shopping at Ten Thousand Villages for jewelry and other accessories. She finds the prices manageable and likes that she is helping out those that are less fortunate than her.
- Price is a factor when shopping for clothing and accessories.
- Sarah's coffee shop income affords her one small purchase a month, and she enjoys the variety of merchandise at Ten Thousand Villages.
- Sarah is aware of fair trade practices, but feels that she can't in general afford to buy fair trade and organic products.
- Learning about the artisans at Ten Thousand Villages has prompted her to shop there, despite her tight budget. She was surprised to learn that the majority of goods sold at Ten Thousand Villages fit her price range.
- Sarah would like the website to serve as a promotional place for the Ann Arbor Ten Thousand Villages store.
- She would like the store to offer coupons online, similar to World Market, as a way to bring more customers into the shop.
- She feels that fair trade education is important, and that others would be interested in buying fair trade if they were aware of artisan stories.
Sarah is looking for volunteer opportunities in the Ann Arbor area, and wants to do something she would enjoy. She remembers that Ten Thousand Villages employs volunteers. Working at the store, she would also receive an employee discount, and this inspires her to look at their website to see if they are currently recruiting. She Googles "ten thousand villages ann arbor" and is directed to "www.villagesannarbor.org" which is no longer online. Somewhat discouraged, Sarah returns to the Google results page, scrolls down, and finds www.annarbor.tenthousandvillages.com. Here she has reached the correct URL. From the home page she tries to locate information regarding volunteering and current recruitment efforts. Although there is one volunteer profile on the site, she does not find any information as to how to apply or get involved. Sarah realizes that the website does not have the information she needs, and decides to visit the store in person to investigate her opportunities.
A comparative (or competitive) evaluation was done to understand the direct and indirect competition of annarbor.tenthousandvillages.com. According to Mike Kuniavsky, "Understanding which of your competitors' strategies work and which don't is critical to understanding what will work with your product and where to focus your development energy." The comparative evaluation highlighted strengths and weaknesses of three fair trade websites and another local fair trade retailer in Ann Arbor.
The Heuristic Evaluation was done using Jakob Nielson's ten heuristic principles. Each evaluator went through the website with a fine tooth comb, uncovering aspects of the site that do not adhere to Nielson's heuristic principles. These issues were then rated on a severity scale from 0 (I don't agree that this is a usability problem at all) to 4 (Usability catastrophe: imperative to fix this before product can be released). The evaluation uncovered a range of issues including navigational problems and site-wide inconsistencies. The following is a sample of the issues that were uncovered.
For the purposes of this evaluation, the survey was used not to find usability problems but content deficiencies within the local TTV website. Participants were asked a range of demographic questions as well as questions about their volunteering habits and what information is most relevant when selecting an organization with which to volunteer.
A usability test was done to reveal major usability issues with tenthousandvillages.com and annarbor.tenthousandvillages.com. A pilot test and four user tests identified a range of issues with the system. A usability test allows the team to see the website through a typical user's eyes, revealing what is problematic about the system, what excites the user, what frustrates the user, how usable the system is as a whole.