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Part 1: Bento User Testing Takeaways

By: Dana Schmidt, Communications and Special Projects Coordinator, Rocky Mountain PBS and Jen Carter, PBS Interactive


L-R: Julie Speer; Doug Price, Mariel Rodriguez-McGill, and Dana Schmidt
Rocky Mountain PBS has spent the last year working on and taking part in the alpha testing process for Bento. As part of that process, we were able to participate in user testing of our Bento-powered website.

After dedicating extensive time and resources to any project, you often find your nose too close to the screen, so to speak. It’s hard to separate yourself from something you’ve been working on intently and take a step back for perspective’s sake. Bento user testing provided that fresh set of eyes that we needed. 

We had hoped that the focus group participants would experiment and explore, testing links and performing interesting searches. The main goal was to provide feedback on our site’s efficiency, accuracy and emotional appeal: How many clicks does it take to find the TV schedule? Do the articles that populate the “Arts” section actually identify as entertainment content? Does the user feel frustrated or offended, or is he/she satisfied and excited to revisit the site in the future?

The testing sessions were a great success in this regard. More often than not, a tester would make a recommendation about a design aspect or a piece of content, and on the other side of the glass our team would mouth “Of course!” We were eager to implement the suggestions.

There was a strong emphasis on accessibility. A high traffic area, like our programming schedule, should have a very visible shortcut. Our site should inspire confidence in our visitors; they know exactly how to get the information they need in a timely fashion.

We also want to create a two-way communication with users. While the website should be a source of rich content, it’s important to include a means to engage with this great content. Increasing interactivity through commenting and sharing functions is a priority.

Our major focus, however, is aggregating news and public affairs in a meaningful way for our audience. If we’re able to personalize current events and issues through geo-location, we’re providing an individualized and invaluable experience to our users.

Bento realizes these priorities and simplifies the process of building our “dream” website. Piece by piece, we have the ability to assemble a site that caters to our users’ needs and continues to provide the same great services of our current pages. 

PBS has provided the necessary tools, support, and motivation to create an inspired final product, and we’re thrilled! We hope to go live in the coming months.

Look for part 2 of this series as Maryland Public Television reflects on their Bento user testing experience.

Interested in learning more about Bento? Contact us or comment below.