Building better websites: how you can help

30 July 2012

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People-Watching by left-hand, on Flickr

Do you want to make our website better for you and fellow users? Nancy Willacy tells you how you can help…

It’s an exciting time in the user experience department of the web team at the Wellcome Trust. We’re getting stuck into doing what we love most of all: getting to know the people who use our websites!

The user experience team represents the lovely folk out there who visit the various Wellcome Trust websites – including the main Trust website, Wellcome Collection, Wellcome Library and a few others. We think it’s important to understand what people do on our websites, what they wish they could do, what they’d like to see more (and less) of and how they behave online generally. This helps us to help the design, development and editorial teams make good decisions about what to put on the websites.

We use a lot of different methods to do this, but in our experience nothing beats talking to real people. That’s why we’re so excited about the two projects we’ve just got up and running.

The first is the Wellcome User Panel. We’re inviting anyone who’s interested to sign up to this. We’re going to use it to get feedback in a very quick and simple way: we’ll send out an email to the panel members roughly once a month with a link to an online task, and each member decides whether they want to help us out by completing it. It could be anything, from looking at how articles are presented on a web page to a short questionnaire about how you like to use your mobile phone. The feedback will then go straight back to the team and help them decide how best to make things happen.

If you’re interested in joining the user panel, please tell us about yourself and sign up here.

The other exciting project is for a piece of work on personas. Personas are tools that make sure that we always have the people who use our websites in mind when we’re designing anything that’s going to go online, from content to images to ways of navigating. To create accurate personas, we need to do a lot of research to understand exactly who is using our sites and why they’re using them, and whether our sites are giving them what they want.

We’re hoping to talk in detail to a selection of people who use our websites. We’re looking for people who use these sites and are happy to have a member of the user experience team visit them – either at their home or at their place of work – and spend an hour with them, observing how they use the website and chatting about it.

If you’re interested in helping us with our personas research, tell us about yourself here. If you take part in the face-to-face research, we’ll give you a £20 Amazon voucher in return for helping us.

These are both projects we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and we’re really looking forward to them. We hope that you soon start to notice the positive effects of our research on the family of Wellcome websites.

Nancy Willacy is a User Experience Specialist at the Wellcome Trust.