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AEA Chicago 2009: DIY UX: Give Your Users an Upgrade

An Event Apart Chicago 2009 Session 5 was on simple things anyone can to to improve their user’s experience on their site, presented by Whitney Hess.

Slides for this presentation on

Design Research
What do our users *actually need*?

  • feedback mechanism: easier for users > easier for you
  • feature/bugs system: most votes = done first (user based, not company based)
  • have survey links all over the place
  • designer research via email – teasing out more info; also feedback for customer
  • let them tell you about their workflow – help you address the core problem

Web Analytics
What are our users *actually doing*?

  • data in conjunction with user research – data doesn’t lie, but it’s dependant on your inference
  • – create maps of where people click on a page
  • record the top 100 searches: top 10 results of each
  • “stats let me refute the client’s notion of how their constituents were behaving”
  • search logs let you see what people really want to do w/ your site

Usability Testing
How well does our stuff *actually work*?

  • ask “what do you think”
  • “‘it looks good’ is the worse feedback we can get”
  • using the same people over and over again allows them to get used to being harsh
  • where to find participants
      Friends and family
    • coworkers who don’t work on project (receptionist, HR, sales)
    • Twitter followers
    • Starbucks
    • Craigslist
  • Why not test online? don’t be a wimp! You should be in the room & feel the pain.
  • if you’re not there, youdon’t see body language, can’t ask follow-up
  • Informal testing can be just as valuable

Experimentation & Iteration
How are we *always getting better*?

  • launch new feature during quiet times, get feedback from user requesting it, tweak, repeat
  • make your working environment creative
  • solve problems together


Is it necessary to have a wide user base for niche product?
some is better than nothing, but wide user base is still better
you’ll find variation in any user group
Published inConference Notes