Sowing The Seeds For More Usable Web Archives: A Usability Study Of Archive-It

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2019

Published In

The American Archivist


In 2017, seven members of the Archive-It Mid-Atlantic Users Group (AITMA) conducted a study of fourteen participants representative of their stakeholder populations to assess the usability of Archive-It, a web archiving subscription service of the Internet Archive. While Archive-It is the most widely used tool for web archiving, little is known about how users interact with the service. This study investigated what users expect from web archives, a distinct form of archival materials. End-user participants executed four search tasks using the public Archive-It interface and the Wayback Machine to access archived information on websites from the facilitators' own harvested collections and provided feedback about their experiences. The tasks were designed to have straightforward outcomes (completed or not completed), and the facilitators took notes on the participants' behavior and commentary during the sessions. Overall, participants reported mildly positive impressions of the Archive-It public user interface based on their sessions. The study identified several key areas of improvement for the Archive-It service pertaining to metadata options, terminology display, indexing of dates, and the site's search box.


Web archives, Usability, Usability testing, Archive-It, User interfaces, Archival discovery systems, User research

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