Every day, for the next 8 days, I’m doing a brief Q&A with a UX pro, who’s taking part in our 10 minute speed sessions to fix your website UX. This is an amazing opportunity for you to get 10 minutes of free, one-on-one feedback on your website UX!
Tell me a little about your UX knowledge/practice:
I’ve been a UX practitioner for over 15 years, and I have a Master’s degree in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University. My practice primarily focuses on UX work that actually involves the user—things like field studies, participatory design activities, usability testing. I also do some non-user-facing work with information architecture, page layout, and interaction design.
Who have you worked with/for?
The beauty of these research techniques is they are industry- and platform-independent. I’ve done work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Fidelity Investments, Nestle-Purina, Hyundai, Pfizer, and Graco, among others.
Which project are you most proud of?
Relatively early in my career, I spent a lot of time on a project at Pfizer to give their research chemists and biologists access to all of the experimental data from 7 different research sites around the world. By doing a lot of front-end research work and 4 full iterations of prototyping and usability testing, we ended up with a product that was very easy for people to use. In fact, when it launched, the helpdesk manager called the project manager, fuming because he had trained his staff on the product and they were only getting password reset requests instead of questions about how to use the tool.
That was also the project where the lead developer started out really angry that the product owner had opted to apply this process. By the end, he was a wholehearted believer. That’s a huge win for any UX researcher.
What do you consider the biggest problem with websites today?
Hmm. So many to choose from! (Seriously. I wrote/erased/rewrote my answer to this at least 10 times.) I think it all comes down to deprioritizing the end user. Nearly every time a user need goes up against a need or want from sales, marketing, IT, or design, the business side wins. One example of this would be all of the newsletter popups you see on every. @#$%^. site. out there now. Does any end user like popups? No. They’re trying to read/research/buy something. But someone in the business wants more newsletter signups, and they win. Clearly, they’re designing for someone else—a potential buyer or an investor or the boss, maybe. But not the end user.
What quick fix could any website owner make to immediately improve his/her website?
Delete stuff. Take away your least-used features. Remove your least-read content (exceptions only for legal/compliance pages). Edit down the content you do want to keep. Focus your effort on the 10 – 20% of your site that generates 80 – 90% of the benefit.