Day 1 from Internet User Experience 2007 conference. Rough notes
taken during the conference - I missed a few sessions because of work.
Techstreet.com redesign (with Enlighten)
- Not like e-commerce since engineers are different and doing very specific things on this site
- Increase browse/buy from 2% to 2.5%
- Advice to presenters: Put the screen shots up front, instead of having talking points and saying "you will see the
screen shots later"
- Lawrence is the generalist and loved working with the Enlighten specialists ("wow, you get to be an IA all of the
- Old home page design - very functional but indicative of adding to and never removing, 11 years grew organically,
never said "no" to stakeholders
- New home page design: Branding focus ("who are we as a company?"), less navigation at the top of the page, shop by
task (more than by publisher), pushed the customer service telephone number front and center, browse + search equally
- Search results: Most used page on the site. Correct document in correct format (52 choices). Example: Search for "usability" on Techstreet.
- Publisher information page: Heavily indexed by search engines (thus often first page users see - designed like the
home page). Example: NSF. Added branding element ("serious real
estate"). Elevated the services (on the left) - global nav, not contextual to this publisher.
- "The agency said no." (would not listen to Lawrence when he said the same thing)
- Launched on Friday (so no data yet - will take months to measure this)
- Questions: Rollout process? Flipped the switch to completely new site. Did you add new functions? No, moved things
around, focused what was there. Better experience just by cleaning up. Re-did the code (to CSS).
- "The cobbler tries to make shoes for his children"
- DIY challenges: Politics, content, customers, committees
- Iteration from the internal designers: Heuristic evaluation and then user testing (to move forward, beyond
internal struggles) and treat it as a "real project"
- Usability testing: painful but useful (bad labels, dense content, images not appealing. Result: hire outside
- Like Techstreet, shocked at the state of proposals they received
- More testing: "Why Tec-Ed?" is a good label. And so on.
- End result: Very happy, outside design firm had great suggestions. Pictures of people and technology. Summary info
at 3rd level (less dense text).
- Lessons learned: Expertise does not mean you will have the time. Internal debates. Priorities. Bandwidth. What is
OK to outsource? Fresh eyes.
- Questions: Early struggles? Usability testing uncovered hidden requirements. Recruiting? Easy this time,
colleagues and customers. Feedback so far? Very positive, reaching out to audiences they were aiming for. Budget
crisis? Realized what you need to commit to a project like this.
Mini-workshop on "Positioning user experience in your organization" - Good wide-ranging discussion, from
standardized, boring deliverables, to initiating organizational change, to usability vs. UX as a name, to being in IT
vs. on the business side, to management prioritization.
Brand on web sites, John Yesko (now at Roundarch)
- Graphic design: White/negative space = luxury; pack in the information for "nothing over $20" market (cramped is
not lower quality design, just more appropriate design for the brand)
- Navigation/IA: Separating totally different ideas into separate navigation, Users browse by category vs. Business
pushing their marketing categories, Org-chart navigation (cannot find mobile phone products - left nav is their org
chart). "Phones & consumer products" cf. "Business products". Want dish vs. Got dish? (nice try).
- Bringing off-line brands online. Clear product categories (instead of being an adventure). Convention: Sales link
in upper right for retail sites. "Gear bag" instead of "shopping cart" (trying to be branded/cute vs. web conventions)
- Voice / copy writing. Serious vs. whimsical.
- Questions. Profit vs. non-profit branding? Non-profits tend to be more territorial. Defining vs. communicating the brand?
Building an online community (Inner Circle Media): I missed the talk but Drupal was mentioned during the Q&A.
Guerilla Personas (not personas of gorillas), Matt Rehkopf, Fry
- Why not more personas? They seem to get axed from projects often (the user research piece appears to be the killer expense)
- Better personas: Downplay the personality, demographics; explain the behavior more. Connect to design decisions.
- Difficulty mapping personas to business goals
- Primary research not needed. "Buyer", "Shopper", "Browser" (with 3 versions of each) - 5 of them stick out from analytics.
- Design decisions: 60 day shopping cart. By room, by topic. Easier to explore, big paging buttons. Iconic navigation. Quick order. Catalog badge.
- Can you reverse engineer assumed personas?
- Questions: How to leverage web analytics? What if starting from scratch - no data to start with? Do primary research.
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