User Experience

I’ve spent a career (since 1997) consulting customers on the best user experience practices. From advocating for persistent navigation in the early days of the web, to discouraging the use of Flash intros just a few years later. I’ve always been a big proponent of the efficient use of plain language – in other words – people don’t read, so don’t try to make them! In recent years, I’ve added lab-based testing to my offerings, to bolster my intuition and experience. Following is a list of areas in which I have extensive knowledge and experience:

  • Expert usability reviewheatmap
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Plain language review and remediation
  • Accessibility review
  • Persona development
  • Usability testing (Desktop, mobile, remote, on-site, eye tracking, think aloud, moderated / unmoderated)
    • Test development
    • Observation
    • Moderation
    • Analysis
    • Recommendation
  • Tree Testing
  • Surveys

Sample Case Studies and Projects

(If the PowerPoint files do not appear as slide shows, click on the slideshow icon in the bottom right – it’s a better experience):

FTC Eye Tracking Study
I conducted a 60-participant eye-tracking study for the Federal Trade Commission to test general public recognition of ads in news articles and search engine results. I developed the randomization matrix for testing and worked with FTC experts and consultants to devise methodologies and artifacts. I moderated all 60 sessions, each in two environments – mobile and desktop, and then worked with UserWorks on the results analysis. The end result of the study was a whitepaper published by the FTC in December, 2017 that can be found here:

FTC Publishes Staff Report on Exploratory Research Examining Consumer Recognition of Paid Search and Native Advertising Online

Expert Review – Federal Agency Offering Hearings and Appeals for Denied Claims
I provided expert review for a federal agency that handles hearings and appeals for denied claims. The expert review covered a secure login web app for judicial review activities. The impetus for the expert review was to identify ‘low-hanging fruit’ issues to fix prior to embarking on a full usability test. My analysis showed the application had serious issues that would in all likelihood fail any user testing without a major overhaul. The result of my recommendation was that the management team went back to the drawing board and redeveloped the system, and pushed their user tests back to the following year.

Sample Expert Review

Tree Test – Federal Agency Dealing with Vaccinations
Working with my UX Lead, I conducted a tree test on a federal website dedicated to health issues to determine if the normal user could get to the content he/she desired. The analysis and recommendations resulted in a much easier navigation scheme with much clearer labeling.

Sample Tree Test Results

Usability Test with Assistive Technology
In 2015, working with the 508 compliance team at my organization, it occurred to me that we expend a great deal of energy making sure our web properties are technically and mechanically accessible for those with impairments, but we never test to make sure they’re actually good and easy to use. I decided to propose a usability test for visually impaired participants. The proposal was accepted and my team successfully conducted the test on our main website. The results were similar to those found with sighted users, and further confirmed our recommendations.

Conducting Usability Testing with Assistive Technology

Eye Tracking Study – Federal Agency Intranet Site
Our organization is in the midst of redeveloping our intranet site. In our research, a common conundrum arose that no one seems to have a satisfactory answer to. And that is what to do with related or complementary content. Since we’ll have navigation in the left rail, we really only have a couple of viable options – the right rail and the bottom of the content. We wanted to find out where users are most likely to look, instinctively, for that type of content. A typical usability study wouldn’t work, since test participants often try to “get the right answer” or tell the moderator what they think the moderator wants to hear. We decided an eye tracking test fit the bill. The result was not 100% conclusive, but it was compelling enough, that combined with participant comments, we were able to make a decision we’re comfortable with.

Results from sample eye tracking study

Survey Results – Federal Agency Intranet Link Behavior
In the same intranet project, we are developing policies around all of the various elements – from icons, to text size, image size, button styles, etc. One of the questions that arose was link behavior. Should an inline link open a new tab, or should it take over the existing tab? There were different, compelling arguments for both conditions so I decided to conduct a survey and see what the preference is. Oddly, UX professionals tend to prefer one behavior, but recommend another.

Survey Results on Preferred Link Behavior

Survey Results – Federal Agency Content Contributors
There are many individuals at this agency responsible for creating, editing, and deleting most of the content on the intranet. However, as a SharePoint site, it’s not a very easy process. We are redeveloping the site in Drupal 8 and want to make sure we take into account all the current pain points of the content curation process so that we avoid them in the new iteration.

Content Curation Survey

Tree Test – Federal Agency Intranet Redevelopment
There are approximately 3,000 pieces of content on this agency’s intranet site. The content is confusing, esoteric, disparate, and hard to find. While we recognize we may not be able to solve all the navigation problems, and we are confident a new taxonomy system and machine learning will help people find their content, we still need to make the navigation as good as we can. The results of a number of card sorting exercises and stakeholder interviews have led us to a workable Information Architecture. But we needed to test our proposed navigation and labeling to see how close we got it. We decided to conduct a tree test. The results helped us identify a few remaining issues and led us to a new structure that we will use are our basis and test again post launch.

Intranet Tree Test Results


In addition, my experience includes making presentations to groups as small as two people and as large as 500. For more information, or to see a portfolio, contact me and we’ll schedule a consultation.