SEFI 2013

SEFI 2013

Rebuilding a frequently asked questions website and the information you can extract – a case study

In today’s information world, everyone wants to share information to everyone: travel stories, screencasts, course material with additional resources and so on.
A decade ago, creating this kind of sites was the privileges of the more technology aware persons. It required knowledge of server management, networking tools and coding.
In the last few years, sites providing this kind of services were launched. Ease of use and no required maintenance made it possible for everyone to spread their stories. Due to this popularity, other types of content were incorporated and the services were named Content Management Systems (CMS).
In the particular context of education, a typical CMS is blackboard. As this is the product of one company, a request for a specific feature may be overlooked if it is too specific. And creating the feature yourself might not be possible for copyright and commercial reasons.
As creating a new site from scratch is not an option, free and open-source CMS such as Drupal became more and more popular because it can count on a large user-based community who is willing to contribute on a voluntary basis.
The case study in this paper is a frequently asked questions website developed by the tutorial services of the faculty of engineering at KU Leuven (Belgium). Engineering students can post questions on a variety of subjects. These are only answered by professors, assistants and tutors. Students can also search through all posted questions using keywords, thus reducing the time to retrieve interesting questions and their answers.
As the original version was launched in the early 90s, it no longer fits the needs and expectations of today’s users. The burden of maintaining this website also increased. These reasons have led to a complete redesign of this website using Drupal. The creative process of this redesign is described in the first part.
The website went online in September 2012. Since then new questions were posted and answered. In the second part of this paper, we try to find new information about the behavior of the users, such as frequency of posting questions, which topic generates most questions, …
Finally results of a survey are discussed. In order to improve the user experience, users are asked to fill out a questionnaire about the usability of the website: which parts of the website work as expected, which parts need to be improved, …


Pieter-Jan Drouillon

September 18, 2013