FOWA - Day 1 (continued)

I'm really impressed with FOWA so far, the quality of the presentations has been very high and there's plenty to learn. Difficult to condense highlights into a digest, but the best two presentations have been:
  • Robin Christopherson of AbilityNet talking about making web sites accessible. Enlightening and humbling to learn about the range of disabilities that web developers ought to consider when designing websites. Google has an exemplar track record in this area and, interestingly, have gone as far as creating a text-only version of Google Maps for the visually impaired (for details see my twitter feed).
  • Daniel Burka, Creative Director for Digg, gave an awesome talk that was almost perfectly tailored for my current needs. I've recently been looking at experience design in the open source space (see blog postings here and here), and he encountered the exact same problem when redesigning Mozilla products a few years back. Major backlash! Obviously one should be sensitive to the likely reactions, and he gave some useful pointers as to what one can expect. Too much info to go into here, but I'll drop my notes as a comment in response to this blog post.
First batch of photos are online here:

FOWA - Day 1


Phil Whitehouse said…
My unedited notes from Daniel Burka's presentation:

Title: How to process feedback from your customers.

He first worked on Mozilla in 2004. His boss criticised Mozilla website, and Mozilla asked him to fix it! They worked on the Firefox and Thunderbird logos, then on the Mozilla web presence.

They presented the community with their changes (this was before Firefox, still called Phoenix and Firebird). Naively assumed that the community would be right behind it...even though it was obviously much better. Feedback included:

* "What's wrong with the old website"
* "It looks like your average small company website"
* "Keep the old colours and ditch the new ones"
* "IMHO the old site looks much better than the new one"

There were a few positive comments. But feedback is more than 'good' or 'bad'. This was a very important breakthrough of understanding, need to communicate with users on a sophisticated level.

Daniel is the Creative director of Digg. One of the founders of Pownce.

Pownce, 3 months old (100,000+ users), positive, energetic, nimble and responsive. Make suggestions and they might actually be rolled out in a couple of weeks time! But people are a lot more sympathetic to change, and almost expect it.

Digg, 3 years old (2 million people), people have invested time, patterns and familiarites have formed, expectations of performance have been created - these people are the users who run the website. Any time you make a change, you disrupt the users.

How does feedback influence change?

Before: Is the change worth it?
Rely on previous feedback
Know your community, stay in touch, participate in the comments
Anticipate areas of friction
Focus groups and usability studies
Decide how to measure success

During: Gathering feedback
Type 1: Positive feedback
Type 2: Bug reports
Negative feedback
- I want it to be how it was before
- I hate it! (the designer should be fired!)
- It doesn't do something I wanted
- It's OK, but what took so long?
Type 3: ???
Type 4: Expert Feedback - great!
Type 5: Implicit Feedback
-Observe user behaviour
-Objective metrics
-Speaks for the silent majority ("watch what they're doing, rather than what they're saying")
Total comments increased by over 30%
Unique commenters increased by 20%
Unique comments per person increased by 15%

After: Reacting to feedback
Step 1: Don't do anything straight away!!! Wait for 2-7 days (unless fixing bugs) - you don't have the whole picture and shouldn't make rushed decisions
Step 2: Identify themes and strong ideas
Step 3: Engage your community
Step 4: Iterate

Lessons learned

- Plan for a lot of feedback
- Anticipate negative feedback
- Listen to your community
- Make time for user testing and focus groups
- Don't react immediately
- Make time for iteration
- You can't please everyone, don't try