By Ann Kucera & Kari Chrenka
Students are using the CMU Libraries website every hour of every day. It is a resource for completing assignments, conducting research, and connecting with a librarian. To make sure the website is supporting students, the library conducts monthly feedback sessions. Library staff observe how students interact with the library website and make changes, so our resources and services are more intuitive for users.
Recently, the library collaborated with Julie Zuo, a faculty member from the Fashion, Interior Design and Merchandising Department at CMU. Professor Zuo had access to eye-tracking glasses and was interested in partnering with the library. We were excited about the opportunity to use this tool and see how it could enhance the data that we normally collect.
During the feedback sessions, the glasses tracked the eye movement of students as they used Smart Search to find peer-reviewed articles from the past two years. We were most interested to see how they interacted with the filters that are available in Smart Search. We were curious if it was more helpful to have the filters on the right side of the screen or the left side of the screen.
The results of these feedback sessions will help the library decide if the filters should be on the right or left side of the page.
Several students who used the glasses in feedback sessions were excited to see how the glasses worked. Austen Merconti, a Computer Science student who participated in the feedback sessions, stated that: “The feedback sessions are beneficial since you get direct input from the users rather than trying to infer what they were thinking or just by what their eye-tracking data inferred. I felt like I had an active role in determining how the website would be laid out, which, I think, is really important and keeps users engaged and excited about the session.”
Aaron Hugenot, a student in Logistics Management and Information Systems, said, “I found it interesting knowing where my eyes hover on the web page compared to what I am actually trying to do or trying to find.”
Collaborations like this not only align with our Mission, Vision, and Core Values, they are also interesting and a lot of fun!