These are two of my favorite conferences. They’re big enough to attract a diverse collection of speakers and topics, while not so big that you can’t meet and talk with everyone.
Their venues are also interesting: SIGDOC will be just outside of Washington D.C., so I’m going to have to hop on the Metro and visit the sights. PROCOMM 2016 will be in Austin, TX. That’ll be a first for me. I’ve been to many towns in Texas, over the years, but not Austin.
At SIGDOC, I’ll present a look at one of the remote user-research tools I developed for my dissertation research to collect targeted feedback about readers’ experiences with a document. The goals of readers of informational content often fall outside of the web experience. This makes it difficult to know how well your content helped readers accomplish their goals through their web experience alone, let alone, know what part of a large document they found helpful. The tool I’ll be presenting provides more detailed information than the traditional “thumbs-up/down” or one-to-five” feedback responses that are seen on many websites, while being less intrusive than the typical online questionnaire.
I’ll focus on the findings from my dissertation research that show best practices don’t always produce the best results, unfortunately. While it’s good (if not vital) to know the best practices, it’s equally (if not more) important to know what each practice is best at. It’s also vital to know what your audience finds important so that you can give them what they think is best.
All this is obvious, right? Context is king! Yet, without testing, and validation, you’ll never know whether you’re delivering what the audience wants and needs. To that end, testing needs to become a best practice that’s practiced more often. My presentation will talk about some of the obstacles to this and how we can overcome them. It’s not easy, but it’s not as hard as it might sound.