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Usability Testing of Data Access Tools

John J. Bosley and Frederick G. Conrad


Government statistical agencies and other organizations publish data on the World Wide Web, making it available to users through browser-based tools. As a result, many data users with little experience working with statistical information now have online access to these data. Findings of usability tests of three Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data access tools revealed usability problems in three categories: insufficient guidance or instructions for tool use, unclear data naming and database organization, and unsystematic interface organization. Specific instances of each problem class are provided, and methods for resolving these types of usability problems are proposed.