I love usability testing and feedback from the people who use what we make here at Macmillan--and trying to improve what we make based on what we learn. A few weeks ago Karita dos Santos hosted a very talented group of rhet/comp graduate students from across the country, all hanging out in the conference room in our Boston office: They were in town for a focus group with Nancy Sommers, but I got to spend some time with them getting live feedback to our Bedford Bits blog. They had great critiques, and we wasted no time acting on them (thanks, super designer Sara Hillman!). The differences in the screenshots below may not look super dramatic, but I think it's much more engaging, because that dynamic list of blog posts, ie, why you care, is now farther up the page (and the tag cloud provides an alternate way into the content). And that, my friends, is the beauty of revision and digital composition. Woot! If you have comments about what you do or don't like about our community, add a comment to this post or just send me a message!
The Before Bits
The After Bits
What they said:
Too many ways into the same content, repetitive navigation
Why are the topics listed on the right and at the top (when you scroll over the image?)
How do I see related content when i'm reading a post?
Need a "how to use this space" FAQ
What we did:
Delete topics from the right hand column and move the recent blog posts higher on the page
Go to an evenly weighted 2-column layout so you get the juicy stuff when your eye scrolls across the page
Add "popular tags" so it's more obvious how to jump into lists of the stuff that interests you