As part of a review of the Mobile Libraries web site, we wanted to ensure that the users of the service were receiving the right information in the best format available from the site: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/library/library-servicesforyou/mobile-libraries.htm
As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation.
~ Adam Smith
What better way to find out than to meet the users?! The Mobile Libraries team kindly organised a day for me to shadow one of their drivers on a route around the New Forest – taking in a variety of settings from rural villages to seaside car parks.
- How did you know today’s service was running?
- How would you know if the service was not running today?
- What is the best way for you to receive notification of changes to the service?
- Do you know Mobile Libraries has a web page?
- What kind of information would be helpful to you on the web site?
- Would you be interested in helping us with the prototype?
I prepared a set of interview questions but decided to take an informal approach as I did not know who I would be meeting on the day and whether or not the questions would be relevant or even sensible!
The interview varied depending on the participant – this was a practical step as the majority of the people I spoke to were elderly and some did not understand the term “web page”. I asked the participant if they had a computer or used the internet. If the response was “no” then I would ask Q1-3 only.
Summary of Responses
Sample size (24 participants)
Q1 – How did you know today’s service was running?
All responses were the same – they were regular service users and had a printout of the scheduled stops from the driver. No one had downloaded the PDF from the web page
Q2 – How would you know if the service was not running today?
Most responses were the same “if the bus wasn’t here then I guess he wouldn’t be coming today”. Some respondents said they would call (assume they meant HantsDirect) to see if the bus had broken down. Some of the respondents told me they used to get a phone call if the driver wasn’t coming but that had stopped due to funding cuts. One respondent said that the local shop was called and they passed on the message. Those comments suggest that there was good communications between the users and the service.
Please note: Mobile libraries do not charge fines for late books. This may explain why most of the respondents were not upset if they missed the bus. They would return their books on the next scheduled date.
Q3 – What is the best way for you to receive notification of changes to the service?
Three respondents said they would like to receive an email. One respondent said they would check the web page.
Q4 – Do you know Mobile Libraries has a web page?
One respondent said they have seen the web page. Another user said they couldn’t find it when they went on the Libraries web site.
Q5 – What kind of information would be helpful to you on the web site?
All respondents who answered this question gave a similar response: their main concern was keeping the service running and knowing the scheduled date and times of the stops.
One respondent suggested pictures of the stop might be useful, as well as a map.
Q6 – Would you be interested in helping us with the prototype?
One respondent (employed as a Graphic Designer) expressed interest in reviewing the prototype and gave me her email address.
The respondents were return users who had been using the service for many years. Most had no interest in the webpage. One respondent suggested that only new users would be interested in the web page if they wanted to locate their nearest stop. “Word of Mouth” appeared to be a useful communication medium at the rural stops. It was important to get the name of the stop correct – might be known as a different name by the local population.
Meeting the users of the service was an invaluable experience and confirmed what we suspected – keep it simple! Human interaction was the most important communication medium. Use of the web site was secondary and would be used as a backup, therefore it was important to keep the amount of information to a minimum. No bells and whistles required!