288 Assessing users of the NWS point-and-click web-based forecast information

Monday, 24 January 2011
Washington State Convention Center
Julie L. Demuth, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and D. Hilderbrand, J. K. Lazo, R. E. Morss, and T. Trogdon

Handout (2.1 MB)

The National Weather Service's (NWS) point-and-click forecast web page includes a wealth of forecast information, including the forecast-at-a-glance icons, the seven-day text forecasts, current conditions, and several links to additional observation and forecast information (see, for example, http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Boulder&state=CO&site=BOU&textField1=40.0269&textField2=-105.251&e=1). The point-and-click web page is heavily accessed, but some of the forecast information may be misleading, inconsistent, and/or incomplete. NWS receives anecdotal feedback from the web page users, but there is very little reliable and valid data about people's comprehension, preferences, and uses of the point-and-click forecast information. This NWS-funded project is employing multiple methods to assess users' perspectives of the point-and-click web page forecast information. We will present initial findings from three exploratory data collection steps: a usability lab study, focus groups, and the first of two web-based surveys. The usability study results will include information about people's actions and cognitive processing when using the point-and-click web page. The focus group and survey results will include information about the web-page users' socio-demographic characteristics, experience using the web page, motivations for accessing the web page, usage of information on the web page, and attitudes about which information on the web page is the most important and which information is problematic. These results will guide development of a second, more in-depth web-based survey about the point-and-click forecast information. NWS intends to implement improvements to the format and content of the point-and-click forecast web pages based on findings from this study.
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