Revision Analysis: From 0.1 to 1.0

Developing the initial design was a matter of learning to use Squarespace’s templates, drafting text for each section, and making several design decisions out of a “just get it on the page” mindset. For example:

  • Decision: Navigation bar at top had”Resume”, “Contact”, and “Making the Shift” on the far left.
    • Reasoning: I knew I wanted the resume and contact page to be available at all points. The blog ended up on the corner because it was low priority – and therefore last in the sequential list.
  • Decision: Navigation bar at top had “Portfolio” to the right of my name,
    • Reasoning: I parsed this as “Emily Ronald’s Portfolio” rather than a half-hidden link. Since it was the homepage, it seemed to belong here.
  • Decision: Use the initial photo choices for the portfolio
    • Reasoning: A dash of desperation – how do I represent “qualitative analysis”? – met with my beginner photo skills. They served well as placeholders, but were fairly bland.
  • Decision: Keep the navbar at the bottom
    • Reasoning: Using Squarespace’s template, this seemed like the obvious place for it – anyone scrolling through my experience could then return or move around between types of experience
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Commentary: More personas, more next steps

I sketched out the initial personas in iteration 1.0 of the website:

  • a hiring manager who isn’t sure how or why a PhD in religion would move to User Experience
  • a team member who’s less interested in how I got here, and wants to know if I have experience with pivot tables
  • a friend of a friend who’d heard I was moving into this field and wanted to see what I was up to

Redish recommends a deeper dive on these – really draw them completely, give them full personalities. But I’m not sure I can do that for this purpose; I don’t have a stable base of users that I can extrapolate from. On the other hand, I do have experience with the hiring process and some perspectives from persons currently in UX. So I can give these a bit more depth – namely:

 

– Most people prepping for an interview have little time and are distracted. They want to know quickly whether I have experience with X or Y.

– UX professionals will usually have a strong design background – so they’ll be evaluating this in terms of design as well as information (even though I’m a researcher)

– Unusual paths to UX are actually not unusual – so there’s less need to justify or dodge that question, and in fact it might be fun to bring my religious studies background to the forefront.

 

Other to-do:

– Run accessibility tests

-Revise the homepage; right now it’s not conversational.

– Inventory the site, especially in terms of consistent style.

 

Oddly enough, taking this time as an involuntary break means that I’m not hooked on the design anymore. It sometimes takes me an interval to stop focusing on all the reasons why I designed it like this, and start thinking about how to really redesign. That’s true in my writing, and it holds true here.

Commentary: Snow, and interruptions

Now that there’s a full draft on the site, with content in every location, the temptation to just hang it up and say DONE is quite strong. And I admit that over the last few days I’ve been doing just that.

In all fairness, the 18″ of snow we received may have had something to do with my delays as well. Reworking a design post-shoveling is difficult. But developing a to-do list is often a good way to “park on the downhill slope” – to gain momentum so that when I can devote brainspace to this, I’m ready to move on something.

  • Current list:
    • Finish Redish and make content edits
    • Consider revising information architecture based on Redish
    • Recruit a friend to do a few tests on the site – use join.me and have them do some remote testing
    • Possible additions:
      • record a presentation of mine and upload it
      • write up the steps that went into developing this first stage, rather than just the photos in the gallery

Commentary: The first step isn’t making perfection, it’s just making.

In later posts, I’ll talk about why I’m making this shift from one type of research to another, what kind of hopes I have for UX, and how “people interacting with texts” is still the core of what I’m looking at.

For now, I’m midway through designing this site and trying to populate it with content, and it’s driving me up a wall. Every time I think I can at least try templating one thing, I rethink the decision. I’m not yet sure how to balance the needs of a user who’s just trying to figure out if I’ve used pivot tables with the needs of a user who wants more of a story about how my skills translate.

What is reassuring, however, is that one of the main purposes of this site is to be revised. If I’m going to make this site itself into one of my first UX-specific research projects, then errors aren’t major flaws to be feared – they’re flaws that will be revealed in time.

So thumbnail sketches that are squished, or the Wall O’Post-its, or worries about being too text-based, will have to serve as starting points. They’re okay to start with; not okay to end with. Onward.