The most inspiring talks of UX Poland 2015 — Experience Showroom

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This year I had an opportunity to visit UX Poland conference and I was blown away by the positive vibe of the event in the beautiful venue of Jablkowski Brothers Department Store in Warsaw.

All the talks were really good. I tried to pick the 3 that were the most insightful to me personally.

Augmenting UX with DATA

by Jim Sterne

Sterne kicked off the first day of UX Poland 2015 with a very energetic and fun talk. He was talking about how we can benefit from Big Data analytics. The fact is that it’s hard to do good research on users. People often lie in surveys to make the interviewer happy and only combining qualitative with quantitative data can reveal the truth about the users or markets. The other fact is that we are tracked all the time and companies take every opportunity to collect every kind of data about their customers. Companies like Acxiom provide large datasets, containing even 1500 attributes describing a person’s profile, combining data from online and offline worlds.

"All models are wrong, some models are useful."

This sea of information is not yet bringing any value to people who own it. The role of a data analyst is to interpret the data and come up with specific insights. Sterne sees a big gap between a data analyst and "insight consumer", who expects very clear results of this interpretation. All we can do is build approximate models of reality based on the data and in result form some opinions. The process is hard as there are complex tools involved. There was no time to dig deeper into the subject, but I really enjoyed this introductory talk.

How to create better A/B tests based on user research

by Karl Gills

Karl Gills from AG Consult is a man who truly mastered web usability and knows how to optimize websites for results. His talk consisted of quick case studies, where he presented Before/After screenshots of websites and demonstrated that even tiny changes can have a big impact on how people perceive and use a website. Drawing from real life examples he showed why putting big pictures in the header area is not always a great idea; or how to encourage people to enter personal details into forms by explaining how their data is going to be used; or why repeating call to actions at the end of a page makes a lot of sense; or why sometimes it’s better to push product categories instead of individual products on e-commerce websites. The presentation was packed with a lot of practical advice.

"Put call to actions where people can see them."

Nowadays when A/B tests are quite easy to do thanks to services such as Optimizely there’s not much stopping us form using this technique. However, it’s important to plan the tests beforehand. Every site is different, so there’s no point in copying tests from someone else. Also, it may be helpful to gain some understanding of user expectations by making online surveys – instead of asking for opinions Karl Gills simply suggests asking the users: "What is the purpose of your visit today?" Brilliant.

How we built the biggest homepage in Poland? (WP.PL case study)

by Adam Plona

WP.PL is one of the most visited web portals in Poland with 10 million real users per month. Adam Plona explained what it takes to redesign a homepage of such a massive site. It’s important to understand that the homepage of WP.PL generates 20-40% of all revenue of the company due to its desirable advertising space. This leads to many conflicting interests around the design of this particular page.

Also, in this particular redesign time was of the essence, as WP.PL’s main competitor (another mainstream Polish web portal) was launching its own redesign around the same time. The team decided to test designs/prototypes by means of guerilla, spontaneous testing in coffee shops or malls. It allowed to save time and get results fast. At the end of the process many questions remained unanswered, so even after launching the redesigned homepage they kept refining the details and performing many A/B tests to find out what works well and what needs to be improved. The redesign was a success and increased the CTR by 20%. But what I like the most, people who previously answered the question "Describe WP.PL as a human being?" with "Old Stiff" now changed their mind!