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Montgomery County Public Library (MCPL)

Events, Resources and Book Checkout

My Role



12 Weeks

Tools & Methods

Microsoft Teams, Interviews,

Moderated Usability Testing, Heuristic Review,



Advanced Usability Testing

Project Focus

The Montgomery County Public Library System remains extremely active and, to many in the community, a vital connection to the outside world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their branch buildings closed, the website has become the primary resource for accessing the libraries’ collections, events (now virtual) and services.

The goals of usability testing are to ensure MCPL patrons can easily find and use key online information, materials and services which included event registration, Language resources and MCPL online book catalogs.

Interview Focus​

  • What are Library patrons using when visiting MCPL and other Library sites?


  • How do MCPL site users feel about the site overall and its usability?

The Process​​

Review selected site sections using Heuristics




Develop personas based on existing research. Interview matching users to identify Pain Points.


Data Interpretation & Analysis

Develop the users stories via data 



Recommend ideas based on the findings

Heuristic Review

A Heuristic review was done in order to determine the site locations and elements that needed the most improvement and focus.


Heuristic Review Template: 


Personas were developed based on existing data and research. The research was used to develop relevant identities for library patrons.


Once the the personas were identified and developed they were then broken down into Primary or Secondary status based on the the type of information they would be looking for and likeliness to use MCPL as a resource.

Personas Included:

  • A Library Patron - Primary

  • A Student - Secondary

  • A Job Seeker - Secondary

Task Analysis

A task analysis was developed to define the purpose to the websites selected and relevant in order to break down the paths users should take for each relevant task. 

Task Analysis PDF

Team 2 Week 5 - Task Analysis (1).jpg
Team 2 Week 5 - Task Analysis (1).jpg

Test Plan

The test plan was developed to test the usability of each curated scenario which was relevant to the developed personas.

The test plan was broken down into four sections:

  1. Introduction and Ice Breakers

    • The introduction and ice breaker questions were used to allow for participants to feel more comfortable in addition to gaining more insight into some of their interests and activities that may be indirectly relevant to the usability test.​

  2. Pre-task Questionnaire

    • The pre-task questionnaire was used to gain insight on the participants previous connection with the MCPL site and general library usage.​

  3. Test Scenarios

    • Test scenarios were created and developed with the curated personas in mind. Each participant when being interviewed was told the context of their specific task and then asked to complete it. ​

  4. Closing Activity & Questions

    • Closing activity questions allowed us to gain quantitative and qualitative information on how the participants felt about the site tasks and general testing experience.​


Users were recruited based off of the developed personas in order to best reflect the personas profiles. Interviews were conducted over Microsoft Teams using the above Test Plan while users shared their screens. 

User 1




Library Usage

scale of 0-5



Library Patron


User 2




Library Usage

scale of 0-5



Library Patron


User 3




Library Usage

scale of 0-5



Job Seeker


User 4




Library Usage

scale of 0-5






Positive Feedback:

  1. Easy initial login process.

  2. Would recommend the MCPL catalog to others who want to find books but not buy them.

  3. Found the website experience positive.

  4. Would recommend the site to others.

  5. Users were interested in what the site offered that they didn’t know about (i.e. Events).

Pain Points:

  1. Lack of single sign-on / Multiple Logins

  2. Resources Page

  3. Didn’t recognize the light gray menu at top of page 

  4. Too many topics / overwhelming 

  5. Lack of awareness for Events or Resources available (“Had no idea!”)

  6. Catalog

    • Identification of media options on items description page

    • Search function not flexible enough (no similar or corrections for misspelled words

    • Can’t undo a hold from the Catalog, have to go to Account to do that


Recommendation 1:

Incorporate single login functionality throughout site. 

  • Maintain seamless user experience during use of services and resources whether 3rd party or not (online language resources, event registrations etc.) 

  • Eliminate repetitive data entry

  • Make it easier for patrons to remember their login information by replacing library card number with a username

Recommendation 2:
Make Resources page more prominent with clear categories.

  • Break categories into smaller “chunks” 

  • Nest categories into a collapsible and expandable format 

  • Make more accessible by offering a “topics map”

Recommendation 3:
Increase focus on Events and Library activities throughout the site.

  • Curate a mailing lists to send out notifications to the users regarding upcoming events

  • Develop more events to attract the student population


Recommendation 4:
Redesign catalog interface for better usability.

  • Identification of media options on items description page

  • Improve search algorithm to permit smarter results

  • Connect account holdings and hold process in Catalog

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