Usability testing and evaluation of the united sorghum checkoff research database



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As the Internet becomes available in more rural areas than ever before, there are new audiences looking to the web for information (Agri Marketing Editors, 2010). Sorghum producers and researchers have access to more sites, such as the Sorghum Research Database hosted by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. The research database currently contains approximately 2,500 articles, with more being added daily. The large volume of information requires that the site be useable so that those interested in gaining knowledge about sorghum will continue to use the research database. When conducting usability testing, the main question is “can people use the site?” More specifically, “can our target audience use our site and will they?” There are multiple ways to test the usability. This study used contextual interviews to ask six sorghum producers and two sorghum researchers just how usable the site was. The study was conducted at the individual’s office location, to determine the effect location had on Internet capabilities. Overall, users were satisfied with the Sorghum Research Database. Recommendations were made to give a list of keywords, add current markets, and further advertise the website. None of the participants were aware the research database existed before the study was conducted. Producers found the articles particularly helpful when they were timely and related to the region in which they were a producer. Researchers identified the research database as a tool for housing all of the research completed, because it could be searched quickly and efficiently. Future research should look to include other user groups that were identified during the study including agricultural extension agents and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) personnel. More research should be conducted to see how producers prefer to receive their information and how they would possibly use the site more in the future.