UX Consulting for Online Publisher

Role:  User Researcher, Project Management

Date:  Feb – Aug 2018

Tools: Google Analytics, R Studio, WordPress, Sketch, HTML&CSS

OVERVIEW

Project Overview

Dear Blogger is an online publisher with 250,000+ readers. On the site, 30 writers share their knowledge about building profitable and compelling websites and blogs. Their website was experiencing a decrease in customer engagement, and I was brought on to reverse this trend. I led the team in the implementation of a user-centered design process, managing the project from the early sketches to the development of the designs into functional code.

Exploring the Current Design

At the outset, I asked the CEO to walk me through the website, the business structure, and the areas that needed improvement. I asked about the site’s customers/readers and the tools used to measure their engagement and customer conversions. Since there were none in place yet, I spearheaded adding analytics to the site that would give the business valuable insights into which articles were performing the best.

RESEARCH

User Experience Research

Before I launched the redesign, I researched the current website’s user experience in order to see what was working and what wasn’t. There are many good methods for user research, and I discussed the pros and cons of each with the team so as to identify the following three that best fit this project.

usabilityCreated with Sketch.

Usability Testing

Usability sessions with 5 new website users

InterviewCreated with Sketch.

Contextual Inquiry

Focused interviewing with employees & contributors.

SurveyCreated with Sketch.

Online Surveying

Surveys completed by 50 readers.

USER PERSONAS

Readers

  • Owner of website
  • Prospective owner of website
  • Actively building website

Writers

  • Content creators usually have their own blogs or businesses that they are promoting as well.

A note about the personas: Information on the personas’ demographics, behaviors, and intentional goals was also considered but was kept confidential.

DATA ANALYSIS

Data Analysis

I leveraged data analytics to discover customer needs. Specifically, I referenced a customer data set (using RStudio), as well as Google Analytics. I gained valuable insight into devices that readers used to access the site, geographic regions, age ranges, and so on. This data was summarized and presented to the CEO for consideration with regard to such issues as usability study recruitment and web development decisions.

The user bounce rate (measured by Google Analytics)—that is, the proportion of visitors who view only one page before leaving the site—was high on Dear Blogger. In an effort to lower it, I implemented a number of UX improvements. One change was the addition of pop-ups asking the reader to subscribe that did not detract from the interaction. Knowing that forceful pop-ups deter users, I used a gentle form that appears only after a reader has had the opportunity to appreciate the content.

Business Opportunity

Finding that the CEO was being inundated with web development requests, I created a customer portal to manage the demand. The resulting Web Developer Customer portal automates the work of initial project take-offs, filters out spammers, and allows for quick prioritization of projects. In the second month of operation, dozens of clients came through the portal, including a famous actor, an e-commerce company, and several bloggers.

PROTOTYPE

Interactive Prototyping

I selected a few homepage layouts from the sketches and proceeded to create the wireframes using a responsive design tool, Sketch. Next, I showed the prototypes to several users, who tested them and provided feedback.

Concept #1

Concept #2

DEVELOPMENT

Mobile Responsive Design

I also oversaw the development of mobile responsive features for the website. Making the site mobile friendly involved changing the size of the content, font size, content padding, and more.

One of the main fixes was increasing the mobile font size from 11- to 16-point. Small text can be hard to read, causing visitors to give up before finishing an article. This is especially true of Dear Blogger, many of whose users are over the age of 50 and therefore prone to experience vision issues.

Desktop Homepage: Before & After

Before After
IMPACT

Improved Customer Engagement

  • User bounce rate Proportion of visitors who view only one page before leaving the site (Source: Google Analytics).
    improved 25%.
  • Session duration Average session duration is: total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions (Source: Google Analytics).
    increased 36%.
  • More visitors are subscribing to the newsletter.
  • More author submissions. There have been more authors requesting to publish their work.
  • More video comments on the videos featured in the sidebar area.

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