Global remote research for GeoNode:

Open-source software usability testing + platform strategy

As the World Bank developed their long-term software funding strategy for disaster resilience, Hopscotch was asked to evaluate GeoNode’s general usability and its purpose within the GIS community.

Client: World Bank, GFDRR

  • Participant recruiting 
  • Remote interviews
  • Remote usability test
  • Software strategy
  • Github repository
  • Survey
The World Bank invests in GeoNode’s development to bring affordable (ie. free) GIS software to every country it works with. Using GeoNode enables countries to have secure, online cloud-based data available during emergencies.
Hopscotch was brought in to assess the current state of GeoNode’s development and the associated tools within the GIS ecosystem.
The ultimate purpose: To develop a product platform strategy.
During the course of the project, we interviewed GeoNode users in 10 countries, and surveyed their global audience. The resulting strategy and recommendations were uploaded to a Github repository.

Global usability testing

An analysis was conducted on the usability of the new GeoNode Homepage template (GeoNode version 2.6) implemented on Malawi’s GeoNode, Masdap. Invited participants were recorded interacting with the site; then, we solicited their feedback on its usability. At the same time, a parallel site using the old homepage template was tested to provide a comparative dataset.

Examples of opportunities we found for improvement:

  • The ontology of information on the site
  • The filter function on the search page
  • The “icon area”
  • The “about” and “get started” links
  • The shopping cart
The new homepage template provides many improvements over the old template (GeoNode version 2.4), including featured stories, icons, contact us sections improve accessibility. However, site-wide navigation and existing feature flaws impacted navigability and user feelings of success or failure.
The new template’s challenges:
  • Transposes novice needs with expert needs, placing expert-level support in the “Get Started” button that calls novices to action.
  • Attempts to surface the type of datasets available within the site to aid comprehension and use (through exploration icons and data stories).
  • Better supports user types by following common conventions for accurately linking and naming appropriate content.
  • For example, providing site details under “About” and a simple step by step guide for “Get Started”; then, there is linking of the two pages. This simplifies the exploration icons in the “icon area”. They are currently too complicated, and their ontology is not clear. For example, reduce the number of icons, or sub-categorize and nest them; remove hover text and place it on a dedicated category page that is linked from the icon. This suggests the need for a new view within search that shows and explains dataset relationships. Based on these results, a better naming, metadata, and content strategy is necessary. For example renaming the exploration icons to “suggested searches,” to match the function of the icons. The “data stories” section works well.
  • Use common conventions to resolve issues with Applied Filters and the Cart.

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