Description: The needs assessment part of this project was not intended to justify the construction of the site itself. The need for a serious training aid for novice Web developers was already apparent in the working of the organization's web site. However, many different skills are involved in developing pages for the World Wide Web. The needs assessment served as a focusing tool to determine which skills were necessary to the beginner.
Goal: was to rank the specific tools provided in the site according to their utility for the beginning web author.
Method: Likert Scales were used. This gave an easy to interpret ranking of the A skeletal version of the Web Builder's Handbook was demonstrated before a small group. On conclusion, a questionnaire was handed out containing 15 different possible content areas to be evaluated on Likert Scales. The entire presentation, including completing the questionnaire, took only 20 minutes.
Who: The Needs Assessment was given to 12 persons with 3mo-30mo. experience in Web authoring. Persons who had already developed their own skill sets in Web authoring were selected since the purpose was to evaluate the utility of different specific Web authoring skills. A beginner would likely be unable to evaluate the utility of different skills s/he had no experience using.
A 2nd year class in Interface Design at San Francisco State University provided 7 of the subjects. The five others were all of those at the author's workplace with any Web authoring experience. The purpose of the study and the uses to which it will be put was printed on the questionnaire itself. Each participant was also given a brief overview of the entire project. 10 of the 12 participants chose to fill out the simple demographic data requested. All seven SFSU students did so. Four of the seven were teachers, one a graphics designer, one a webmaster and one did not give an occupation. One of the three non-SFSU participants was a professor, and the other two worked full time in a computer support role. The four teachers had an average of 10 months web authoring experience. The six non teachers averaged 17.5 months of web authoring experience. There was no attempt to record the gender, age or ethnicity of the participants. These factors were not relevant to the purpose of this needs assessment.
While the sample population was small, it "felt" representative of the mix of people involved in web authoring on a non-professional level: a mix of newcomers with 3-6 months experience and "old timers" with two years or so of web authoring behind them.
Blueprint: The instrument had a brief introduction followed by 15 different content descriptions with appended Likert Scales. There were two subscales, corresponding to the two different areas of the Handbook that involved skill presentations.
Evaluation: Each subscale was ranked separately. While Standard Deviations were calculated, they proved not to be significant for ranking purposes (SD varied between 0.8 and 1.3 for all ranked items). The mean for all 15 items was 3.9, with a Standard Deviation of 1.1. Inspection of the two subscales together revealed a useful tactic: setting a lower cutoff below which an item would not be included in the final Handbook. A lower cutoff of of 3.5 excluded three items, 3.6 four items, and 3.7 six items. Excluding all six items at 3.7 or below brought the mean for the remaining nine up to 4.15, with a mean for all excluded items of 3.5.