We developed a protocol for testing the content and structure of the Explorations with individuals unfamiliar with the Mall’s history.
Each user received a list of possible questions, with a short introduction, and was asked to select a topic to explore. The testing team member presented the user with a paper copy of the selection question and then asked the user to comment on their choices through a series of directed questions. After each discussion, users were asked to then select another Exploration they wanted to investigate. Each user reviewed three explorations, and the testing team collected feedback on which topics were most and least popular and some reasons why.
- Why did you choose this investigation?
- Was the information what you expected?
- Did you find out anything you didn’t already know?
- Was the question answered? Did you want more information? Less?
- Which primary source appears particularly interesting to you?
- After finding answers to the investigation, would you like to go elsewhere? Are you interested in finding questions around a similar theme?
- Did you want more information about this theme?
Based upon this feedback, we rephrased questions, adjusted related primary sources, and refined accompanying narratives as needed. Testing confirmed that structuring the Explorations as questions with primary source answers appealed to users. Well-phrased questions with answers that specifically addressed those prompts encouraged further user exploration of the site. These findings guided the development and refinement of the Explorations section, and also guided the content team on where to focus research and writing time.