3 simple tips to incorporate user testing: lessons from improving Cochrane Library navigation

Tiny people testing quality

Rachel Craven, Product Lead of Cochrane Library, recently incorporated user experience research to help improve the right-hand navigation beside reviews in the Cochrane Library. Here she shares more about that project and offers her 3 top tips that you can incorporate into your projects at Cochrane. 

At Cochrane we want to make sure that our evidence is accessible and usable to support healthcare decision making. For the Cochrane Library, we wanted to simplify the right-hand navigation to improve user engagement with the content and improve the user experience of the website.

To support this work we undertook user experience (UX) research. UX research is the systematic study of target users and their requirements, to add realistic contexts and insights to design processes. UX researchers adopt various methods to uncover problems and design opportunities. For this project we interviewed a number of members representing our key user groups and asked them to complete tasks using two potential designs and talk us through the process while sharing their screen.

Given all the work needed in the backend, it was great to verify that the changes would be helpful and that we got things ‘right’ before launch! With the help of our user testers (our grateful thanks!) we ended up with this new right-hand navigation that has:

  • Clearer call for action to key user tasks
  • Prominent article metrics that better highlights content value
  • New ordering of navigation that better reflects editorial content hierarchy
  • Better showcase of dissemination/related products
  • Use of icons to improve scan-reading

This new navigation has just launched in the Cochrane Library on all Reviews
– we welcome you to check it out!

Cochrane strives always to include feedback from end users in our evidence creation. We can also do that too when designing products or making improvements. Here are three tips that you might consider with your next UX project.

  1. Add it into your project timeline: Add working directly with users into project planning early. For this project, we gave ourselves a month to conduct the interviews and go over the data.
  2. Know your audience and seek them out: It’s great to head into the project with an idea of how many users you want to work with and what characteristics you are looking for. Cochrane Engage is the easiest way to find volunteers! We also put out the call on social media and sought help directly from Cochrane’s Early Career Professionals group.
  3. Make it fun and easy for your participants: Sometimes it’s hard for people to explain what they like about a design or how they use things. Using a method such as onserving tasks or showing more than one design can help people to better articulate what works and doesn’t for them.

We hope you head over to the Cochrane Library and take a look at the shiny new right-hand navigation that has built with user input! Feedback on the Cochrane Library product, product strategy and product development is always welcome:

3 December 2021

The Cochrane Official Blog is curated and maintained by the Development Directorate. To submit items for publication to the blog or to add comments to a blog, please email mumoquit@cochrane.org.

The Cochrane Blog presents commentary and personal opinion on topics of interest from a range of contributors to the work of Cochrane. Opinions posted on the Cochrane Blog are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Cochrane.