I recently created some tutorials and had some classmates, most of whom are not familiar with the library website take a look at them. One was a word tutorial, the other was a Camtasia tutorial (but the same topic as the word document tutorial). The peer review was very helpful. I learned, for example, that some icons are very very small. Knowing that people felt that way (and it is true) led me to use the zoom and call out features of Camtasia. This was a success. People responded very well to the tutorial.
It’s really important to see something through someone else’s eyes. Library websites can be difficult to use, and they can often be very busy with a lot of confusing options. I look at the website every day. I’m paid, in part, to know how to use it. But we who work with the pages every day take things for granted. We don’t see that icons are too small or that the pages are too busy. Well, sometimes we do. But too often, we can’t see the forest for the trees. The peer reviewers pointed all that out (in so many words) and they were absolutely right. I took their suggestions to heart and people seem to really like my Camtasia product.
We can call it peer review or the more popular term “usability testing” or include it in the broader “User Experience” category. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. Just make sure someone besides your and your immediate colleagues are looking at your tutorials to see how well they work. Can people see the icons, the links, etc? A tutorial that is not intuitive is not going to teach. And that’s what a tutorial is supposed to do.
For further contemplation
Designing Better Libraries More than just website usability
Usability Jakob Nielsen publishes on web usabililty
Usability/User Experience Specialist an interesting career path