Usability Evaluation of a Research Repository and Collaboration Website for Human-Animal Bond Researchers

Method: Questionnaire Survey, Usability Testing
Tools: Silverback, Morae, SAS


The HABRI Central website serves as an open access research repository for human-animal bond research materials (literature, datasets, videos, etc.) from all relevant disciplines. HABRI Central is built on the HUBzero platform developed at Purdue University for collaborative scientific research.


I recruited seven participants (5 female and 2 male) for the usability evaluation. Participants were researchers in the human-animal bond area. Participants performed the following tasks in the usability evaluation:

  1. find an article in the repository;
  2. submit an article to the repository;
  3. add a citation to an article to the HABRI bibliography;
  4. ask a question in the Questions and Answers area;
  5. join a group and post a message in that group’s discussion area.

Response measures of the usability evaluation included:

  1. successfulness of each task;
  2. whether participants needed help from the researcher during each task;
  3. number of steps of the navigational path participants went through in each task;
  4. time to complete each task;
  5. participants’ comments during each task;
  6. participants’ usability ratings of HABRI Central, measured by the System Usability Scale (SUS).

I also took notes about participants’ behavior during the tasks, such as pauses in mouse movement, facial expression, and body language.


The results revealed that the separation of resources and bibliography due to adaptation of the HUBzero platform caused some confusion among participants, and certain steps of the resource submission process (e.g., selecting resource type and adding authors) could be improved to provide clear guidance and facilitate user input. The usability evaluation also showed that the HABRI Central interface should conform to common web layout guidelines so that users can relate past experiences to using features on HABRI Central.

Project Presentation

Usability Evaluation of a Research Repository and Collaboration Website For Human-animal Bond Researchers from Tao Zhang

The list of usability issues from the test is below.

Download the report.

Zhang, T., Deborah, J. M., & Christopher C. C. (2012). Usability evaluation of a research repository and collaboration website for human-animal bond researchers. Presentation at the Third HUBzero Conference (HUBbub 2012).

Zhang, T., Maron, D. J., & Charles, C. C. (2013). Usability evaluation of a research repository and collaboration website. Journal of Web Librarianship, 7(1), 58-82.

Updated on August 16, 2013