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Nebulous Dream Squad

Website Usability Testing

Amanda Daul, Sara El-Rifaai, Justin Johnson, Nicklas Springer 4/17/2014

April 17, 2014 Head of ITM Department Yahoo! Inc. 701 1st Ave Sunnyvale, CA 94089 Dear Yahoo! ITM Department, We have completed the usability testing and report that your department requested. Our usability test for Yahoo! tested five participants who were not currently using the website. These users were asked to complete a list of daily tasks that we outlined for them. We then recorded how long it took them to complete each task, if they were able to, and their reactions or difficulties when attempting them. After reviewing our findings from the usability test, we have concluded that Yahoo!s homepage has a problematic page layout. According to our participants from our usability test, the homepage looks cluttered, which made it harder for the participants to navigate and find specific information. When participants were completing the daily tasks, the search bar was more efficient in finding the information than the links on the homepage. In this report you will find results and our analysis from the usability test, and in-depth solutions we recommend you consider when updating your website. The research and comments we have provided should help your companys website keep as well as gain potential users. The Nebulous Dream Squad would like to thank Yahoo! for allowing us to develop this usability report. If you have any questions or concerns about our report, feel free to contact us via e-mail at, or call us at 1-800-867-5309. Sincerely, The Nebulous Dream Squad Amanda Daul Sara El-Rifaai Justin Johnson Nicklas Springer

E-mail | Phone 1-800-867-5309 | Nebulous Dream Squad | 380 Michigan Ave| Chicago, Illinois 60611

Table of Contents
Letter of Transmittal..1 Executive Summary...3 Introduction...3 Methodology..4 Results.......5 Discussion......6-7 Closing.......8 Annotated Bibliography.......9-12 Appendix....13-15

List of Illustrations
Figure 15 Figure 2....6 Figure 37

Executive Summary
The Nebulous Dream Squad completed a usability test for the Yahoo! website in order to find the issues within the website and provide solutions. We had users attempt to complete everyday tasks such as finding the weather or a future movie time. Users were timed and their reactions were recorded when attempting to complete these tasks. The results showed that most users found the Yahoo! website to be cluttered and difficult to use. They also found that the search bar was more efficient when finding information than from the websites homepage links. Yahoo! should consider these findings when making improvements to their website in order to remain competitive in the online information market.

Yahoo! at one time was the most used resource for daily information. Now its competitors, such as Google and Bing, have taken control over the search engine, email, and database market. Our web testing department at The Nebulous Dream Squad found a few key issues with the Yahoo! website. The main issue that our usability test found was a cluttered homepage. Yahoo! covers a broad range of daily information, but due to having too much on the homepage, it has become difficult to access the information easily. The homepage has too many task bars, icons and links causing it to be extremely difficult to navigate. On the following pages you will find a discussion of our testing methods and results. Also with this report we have included potential solutions to the issues found within your website.

In order to test the usability of the Yahoo! website, we created a test that measured the users ability to search specific information with both the homepage and the search engine. Our company targeted potential Yahoo users who use other online resources to find their information (Johnson). Based on what the users typically use their search engines for, we created a test to see how easily they could do the same things on the Yahoo website (Robertson). We tested a total of five people that fit the typical Yahoo demographic, but were not currently Yahoo! users. The amount of people tested is small because it more efficient to run small tests and fix problems as they appear (Neilson). Our test also asked the participants what their impression of the homepage was within the first five seconds of seeing the homepage (Dunn). To create the tasks for the usability test, our company had to apply the goals that the websites potential users would want to accomplish (McCloskey). The main goals that users would like to accomplish on Yahoos website, based on what was reported to us from our test participants, are to use the email feature, find the weather, find movie times and locations and to look up sports news, schedules and scores. Our test asked participants to first accomplish these tasks using only the homepage and then perform the same tasks using only the search bar. We asked participants to attempt these tasks using the two methods provided on the website to prove how the websites homepage is useful or not so useful when finding information. The test we created timed the participants ability to execute each task, and also recorded their reactions. We compared the times between all five participants to decide how efficient each method was, and to see if there were any similar recurring problems between the participants.

Figure 1 illustrates the main issue that our usability test uncovered. Three out of the four tasks took significantly less time to complete when using the search bar as opposed to the homepage. For example, finding the weather using the search bar took 10% of the time that it did compared to using the homepage. Our participants also took 2.5 times longer to find a specific movie time on the homepage compared to when they did it using the search bar. Even though both the homepage and search bar didnt take long to find supporting information, the search bar was still about twice as fast compared to the homepage. We believe that Yahoo! should cut down the amount of icons and task bars on the homepage, except for the few that actually speed up a task. We asked the participants what they remember from the homepage after studying it for five seconds, users made comments such as many ads cluttered and excessive amount of headlines. They felt that the homepage was cluttered and had a lot of advertisements that were taking up too much space and made finding useful information more challenging.

Figure 1 Homepage vs. Search Bar Graph The results of the usability test that we performed on five potential Yahoo! users showed that the search bar allowed users to complete the tasks quicker than using the homepage links.

Question 1. Create an email account. Question 2. Find the weather in Chicago IL on Friday, April 4th 2014. Question 3. Find the movie times for Divergent on Friday, April 4th MJR in Westland MI. Question 4. Find the day, time, and opponent of the next Detroit Tigers baseball game.

In Figure 2, you can see what Yahoo! looks like right now. Its very hard to find a specific piece of information, because it is cluttered. After reviewing the results of our test, we believe that there are a couple of changes that Yahoo! should make to improve their website. Based on what our participants said when viewing the homepage and the amount of time our participants took to perform each task, the main issue with Yahoo!s website is that it has a cluttered homepage. The homepage has too many task bars, icons and links causing it to be extremely difficult to navigate. Based on the data your ITM workers provided us, the main reasons people use Yahoo! is for mail, sports, movies, news, and weather. Besides creating an email, it was extremely difficult for participants to complete their tasks using the homepage rather than the search bar. We believe that the website should cut down on the amount of task bars, icons and links because everything provided by Yahoo! can be found faster using the taskbar at the top or the search bar.

Figure 2 Current Yahoo! Homepage This is the current Yahoo! homepage that shows the excessive clutter.

Figure 3 illustrates what we suggest should happen to the website in order to encourage users to use the search bar because it is more efficient than having too many homepage links. As you can see from the figure, we took out most of the clutter making the homepage easier to maneuver. The homepage has a search bar, a small section for news, current weather, and a taskbar at the top that will connect users to their email, news, sports, and other daily information. These changes make the homepage appear simple while still providing all of the information that is on the current Yahoo! homepage. This new design makes locating information easier and encourages users to use the search bar to navigate throughout the site faster. Users who would rather use the links are still able to do so through the taskbar located at the top.

Figure 3 Suggested Yahoo! Homepage Based on our test results this is what we recommend the Yahoo! homepage should look like.

After our initial analysis of the Yahoo website, we concluded that the main issue they were facing was the amount of clutter on the homepage. Our results from the test showed that users were able to locate daily information faster using the search bar feature rather than the homepage. Based on these results we recommend that the web designers for Yahoo! take out information on the homepage that can easily be accessed using the taskbar at the top or the search bar. In our suggested homepage, we removed the sidebar, news article block, trending now, headlines, stock and also moved the weather up to the top. We feel it is important for these changes to be made in order to increase current users activity and gain potential users for the website. If you would like to further discuss the contents in this report, please e-mail us at

Annotated Bibliography
Dumas, Joseph, and Janice Redish. A Practical Guide to Usability Testing. Portland: Intellect Books, 1999. Print. Dumas and Redishs book on usability tests goes through extensive detail on how to perform usability tests and why they are effective. They define usability, and explain how it benefits the company, and how to choose the participants. Usability means people who use the product can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their own task. It is important when discussing usability that these four main points are 1. Usability means focusing on the user, 2. People use products to be productive, 3. Users are busy people trying to accomplish tasks and 4. The user decides if a product is usable. If all of these factors are met then there is a usable website. Thats why it is important to pick the right participates in the study. Make sure you choose the right participants, and it is good to have a wide range of people. To test the right participants they need to be Real Users. They have to be people that regularly use the product or will use the product in the future but they cant be professionals. They have to be some knowledge of how to use the Internet. Then once the participants are chosen create Real Tasks that the participants can do. By making usability easier it will benefit the company in a number of ways. One of the benefits is it will enhance the reputation of the company. Selling by reputation is important for a company, but only if it is done in a positive way. If the usability is better than when people talk about the site in a positive way the companys reputation will be improved. It will also decrease support costs for the company. A high amount of a companys money is spent on help and customer service centers. If usability is better they will have to spend less money on helping customers they can spend more on other things more beneficial. This is a good source because it is very helpful when figuring out our goals for the study and who to choose to participate. It will also help when we relay the information to the company we are doing the study for that we make it clear how they are benefiting from this study and that its worth the money.

Dunn, Tory. "8 Guidelines for Usability Testing." 8 Guidelines for Usability Testing. Webcredible, 1 Apr 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. Dunns blog gives eight guidelines for a usability test. After each guideline she gives an explanation of how to use these guidelines and why they are important. These guidelines include what to do before the test, how to write the test, what to do during the test, and what to do after the test. This blog gives simple guidelines that can be used as building blocks for a usability test. The author works for a company who sells their service of running usability tests with these guidelines. These guidelines will help us structure our usability test. By taking these guidelines and also applying our usefulness test we will be able to identify the issues of the website and give suggestions of how to fix it.

Johnson, Megan. "Usability Test Results for Encore in an Academic Library." Information Technology and Libraries Sept. 2013: 59. Academic OneFile. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. The Appalachian State University's Belk Library & Information Commons most recent website version was under criticism by many of its users. In order to find and solve the usability problem of the website, the library had let the author, Megan Johnson, become a researcher and conduct a usability test and report. The study had three goals, they were: to test users' experience and satisfaction with the current tabbed layout, to benchmark the user experience and to document problems users encountered and report them. The study had 13 participants that consisted of the librarys target audience which included faculty members, student employees and students of the University. The author used a task-based study, where participants were asked to find a known book item and follow two scenarios to find journal articles from the librarys website. Participants were also recorded during the test so the observer could show the findings of the test to the library if needed. While the participants were taking the usability test, the researcher asked follow up questions to help figure out other difficulties of the website. Once the usability test was over, participants were then given a system usability scale which asked various questions on how participants felt about the usability of the website. The author then generated the results of the usability test and scale. After the findings were generated, the author gave a summary of her findings and recommendations on how to improve the websites usability. The goal of this source was to find and fix the problems with the Appalachian State University's Belk Library & Information Commons website. This is a useful source because it shows how all aspects on how to run a usability test. The source describes what factors the usability test should be based on, how to make the test and how to report the findings afterwards. This will help our company set goals and create the test.


Levey, Richard H. "Website Usability Testing Boosts Profitability." Chief Marketer. (2012): n. page. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Richard H Leveys article mentioned that people arent using website usability testing when they should be, and he explains how it will easily increase profitability for a majority of companies. He also talks about the different types of businesses, and how they will need different types of website usability testing in order to get the results that they will need. This source will help us understand how usability testing actually affects companies in a positive way. It will also help us identify which type of website usability testing we need to do for our company, as opposed to other companies. Levey states that the end result of a website usability test is to help companies make it easier for their target market to access what they need. Different companies need their customers to see different things, and its our job to figure out what they need, and how to get it to them. By doing so, we will help them reach a wider audience, and keep the audience that they have now.

McCloskey, Marieke. "Task Scenarios for Usability Testing Task Scenarios for Usability Testing. Nielsen Norman Group, 12 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. Mccloskeys article explains that the best way to see what works and does not work for a website is to use a usability test. This allows companies to get an insight into what their users are having trouble with which helps them determine how to improve the design of the website. In order to do this, Mccloskey states that a company should give tasks or activities to participants of the usability test. In order to write the task scenarios, companies should first make a list of general goals that general visitors of the companys website may have. Once the company understands the users main goals, then they need to apply the goals to the tasks. So the tasks will include scenarios testing the usability of achieving the users goals. Mccloskey suggests three taskwriting tips that will improve the outcome of the usability studies. These include: make the task realistic, make the task accountable, and avoid clues along with describing the steps. These tips will help the participants better engage with the test and will help the results be accurate. The goal of this source was to provide information on how to run a usability test by using users goals and turning them into task scenarios. This is a useful source because it gave guidelines on how to write tasks and how to administer the test which our company, NDS, will need to know how to do for our own test. This is a credible source because the Nielsen Norman Group is a company that conducts research and reports real findings about usability tests.


Nielsen, Jakob. "10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design."10 Heuristics for User InterfaceDesign. Nielsen Norman Group, 1 Jan. 1995. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. Nielsen describes the 10 most general principles for designing a website for user interaction. These principles are called heuristics. He says that they are the natural rule of thumb before specific usability guidelines. This author is the co-founder for Nielsen Norman Group, a company that does research on user experience, training, and consulting. He is objectively writing about steps to see if a website is having usability problems. This article will help us check to see if the website we chose is having problems with its usability and usefulness.

Nielsen, Jakob. Usability 101: Introduction to Usability. Nielsen Norman Group, 4 Jan 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2014

Robertson, James. "Step Two Designs." Step Two Designs The Difference between Usable and Useful Comments. Step Two Designs, 1 Nov. 2003. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. Robertsons article discusses that sites are being built based on the designers vision and not so much built on users needs; making the websites useless. He discusses how usability tests test to see if a website can be used easily and quickly. He gives techniques that can be used to redevelop websites-- usability tests and heuristic evaluation. This source raises the awareness of usefulness, not just usability. It gives us the first step in evaluating our website. Makes setting up our usability test less complicated. The source is objective, and wants to bring awareness to the usefulness of a website. Robertsons article expresses that a site can be usable without being useful. In order to avoid this, he states that we need to identify the users needs before redesigning. By researching the users needs first we will be able to run a more accurate usability test. This will make our data more valuable when redesigning the page layout.


User impression of Yahoo!s homepage: User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5 Trending now box, mail icon, ads. A lot of things on the side and top, clutter, too many stories, its overwhelming Many advertisements, like the article organization but too much going on overall Theres too much crap, I dont remember anything other than the picture Mail, ads, search bar, excessive amount of headlines.

Notes during tasks using the homepage links only: Task 1 User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5 The only problem they had was making up a fake name. Easy to do Did so easily. User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5 Task 2 Had to add Chicago to their favorites to find it. There is no way to just type in a city to search once. Got frustrated and used the search box. Had difficulties changing the location for the weather Added Chicago to their favorites in order to actually see the city. After clicking weather it was easily accessible because its a major city

Easily done

Easily completed


Task 3 User Took a while to find the movie 1 section itself. Could not find recent days. User After finding movie section they tried 2 to go by the specific theater, after finding that the dates were not up to date they just clicked the movie and then went to show times. Took them two tries to finally find it User Had to click many different 3 buttons/hard to find User At the 8 minute mark, they gave up 4 and used the search feature User Had a little hard time finding movie 5 section, from there it wasnt too hard User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5

Task 4 Wished that it was on the tiger main page of yahoo Somewhat easy to do Easier than expected. Pretty easy to do

Notes during tasks using the search bar only:

Task 1 User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5 Harder Not as simple This was harder to do using search bar It took longer because she had to type out Yahoo Mail instead of clicking on the mail icon. Harder to do using the search bar, only took quicker because they were familiar with process of creating one. User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5

Task 2 Faster, easier to find specific place. Easier for user to find Easier to use than using homepage Quick search and instantly popped up. Was actually easier to use homepage


Task 3 User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5 Searched for the movie theater and went to the theaters site Automatically went to theaters website Still hard to locate Searching around took a long time A little faster searching User 1 User 2 User 3 User 4 User 5 Easy

Task 4

Faster than using the homepage Extremely easy to locate Easy to do Very easy