Usability evaluation of the Texas Tech Sorghum Research Initiative Web site
Sorghum, the number three grain crop in the United States, is one of the least recognizable crops among the general population, as well as one of the least researched crops among scientists. The Texas Tech Sorghum Research Initiative (TTSRI) recently created a Web site in order to promote research and education of sorghum production.
The Internet has become a primary source of information for people around the world, including farmers. Because of the increasing number of Web sites in operation today it is important to determine whether or not a site is considered usable. In order to provide their audience with information that best suits their needs, a usability test was conducted on the TTSRI Web site in order to determine whether or not it was serving its intended purpose. The TTSRI Web site was found to be effective, efficient, satisfying, credible, useful and therefore usable by participants in this study. Associations with the TTSRI, the TTSRI Web site as well as with Texas Tech University were all found to have an impact on measures of usability. Other variables that impacted usability ratings were the respondent’s knowledge of new uses for sorghum, the Internet use for personal reasons as well as years in the profession.
It was recommended that several changes be made to the Web site in order to better serve its primary audience. Recommendations for future research included: continuously conducting different types of usability studies on the TTSRI site, determining the impact geographic location, primary occupation, association affiliation and acres planted would have on usability ratings as well as testing actual sorghum knowledge as opposed to perceived knowledge. Recommendations made to practitioners included: being involved in educating producers and promoting sorghum research by conducting field days, creating publications and improving other mediums which would be used by sorghum producers and researchers.