Experience

For my work history and training, see About Me or my LinkedIn profile. For an overview of website usability principles in action, see this video of my “Usability Schmoozability” presentation at the 2106 Seattle WordCamp.

Current & Past Work

South County Fire: Website Content, User Research

Facebook drives 70% of social media referrals to fire district website

My website review report was an easy read – and full of information the agency hadn’t considered in the past.

Snohomish County Fire District 1 launched a new website in 2015. But their professional PIO realized she was too busy fighting fires, literally, to get to all the “after launch” ideas they’d deferred during the project. The district also had trouble finding time to develop new web pages on current and emerging topics. Now Fire District 1 has become South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue – one of the largest fire agencies in the state. As staff focus on day to day matters and emergencies, I support them with a monthly contract focused on website content. In 2019, I’m also assisting with the website redesign,  providing guidance on content and requirements based on user research and best practices.

City of Snohomish: On-Call Communications

Three people around a laptop outside

Usability testing at the Snohomish Farmers Market.

I have had several roles with the City of Snohomish since 2016. My first contract was to provide user research and content for their website redesign, including “first click” usability testing of the home page.  In 2017 I spent one day a week at City Hall helping to develop and implement a Strategic Communications Plan. Highlights include ongoing work with the City’s website content and vendor CivicPlus, a Facebook comment policy, and a new web-based city newsletter (vs. emailing a PDF). In 2018, I worked on-call and helped the city transition to its first official communications manager.

Sno-Isle Libraries UX Research

Sno-Isle Regional Libraries is continuing efforts to improve the usability of its website, including the “discoverability” of valuable tools such as research databases and homework help for kids. In 2017, I partnered with the UX designer who did Phase I of Sno-Isle’s user research project to assess changes to the website and test additional improvements. Our research included several “tree tests” of current and possible navigation, on-site usability testing with library patrons, and review of the library website’s Google Analytics. Our findings and staff presentations have helped develop agency staff’s understanding of their users and the importance of user experience design.

ADA Accessibility Review

I conducted a thorough assessment of the ADA accessibility of a banking website. The out-of-state bank hired me after a recent redesign, and in an environment where businesses are being legally served or sued because online resources are not available to people with disabilities. The project included three assessment methods, staff training, a plain language report with recommendations and severity ratings, and a final presentation for bank leadership.

  • Automated Testing – helped identify issues for further review
  • Expert Review – by myself (with a content focus) and by a WordPress developer (for technical issues)
  • Blind User Testing – using his screen reading technology, user attempted 5 common tasks on the website

The final presentation included video of the user testing, and an overview of what it takes to make a website ADA accessible, and why it matters. Comments from leadership included “depressing” and “fascinating.” Bank staff were able to identify immediate priorities for fixing, as well as longer term issues.

Bridge Disability Ministries Website

Google Analytics comparison: Pageviews up 29%; Pages per session up 27%; Session duration up 36%; Bounce rate down 14%

Google Analytics improved in all areas after the new Bridge website launched: pageviews up, visit length up, bounce rate down.

This small nonprofit agency site had not be redesigned in many years. Only one person could make updates to site content. It was not mobile-responsive, it was poorly formatted for online reading and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and it had many features that made it inaccessible for people with disabilities.

Process: This project started when I was a graduate student at the University of Washington. We took their website through a complete user-centered design process, including stakeholder interviews, prototyping, and usability testing.

Then Bridge hired me to manage the final content writing and implementation of the design in WordPress. The work included managing a developer remotely, writing and editing staff content, and creating a new online and business process for their medical equipment page.

Impact: More people who landed on the website wanted to be there. The “bounce rate” off the home page went down 28%. The number of pages people visited and the time people spent on the site went up at a similar rate. The new medical equipment product catalog is the most popular page. It has given the agency new ways to communicate about equipment availability – reducing phone calls and increasing time for one-on-one customer service.

An important part of the project was training Bridge staff how to maintain their website content in WordPress. I have repeated that training for new staff in 2017 and 2018.

ADA Accessible Transit Websites

Transit schedules as images and pdfs are easy for transit, but hard for everyone else

My presentation at the state Public Transportation Conference used real-life examples and a video of a blind user to demonstrate what works and what doesn’t on transit agency websites. My focus was on the most important fixes and the basic principles over which agency staff have control. Fall 2016.

Health District WebsiteHealth District website home page 2014

The Snohomish Health District website was dated and difficult to use. It was organized by department, which didn’t help visitors looking for particular services such as food worker cards. The site content could only be updated by Information Technology (IT) staff.

Process: First, I worked with IT to implement simple fixes such as revised home page labels to make important information easier to find on the existing site. Then I lead an agency-wide project to tackle the complete redesign, reorganization and rewriting of the website.

Impact: The new navigation is based on topics, such as “Food” and “Septic” – making the diverse work of public health easier to see. Content such as fees and class schedules is available on web pages rather than in PDF-format only. PDFs that remained on the site were optimized for search and ADA accessibility.

I trained staff across the agency to edit and maintain content. A new website is never “done,” and they have been able to update the site as needed.

Note: The image above shows the home page when the site was launched. It has been redesigned since I left the agency.  The site’s overall design and organization remain unchanged.

Completed 2014

King County Metro Trip Planner App

Mobile phone showing list of bus stopsProblem: The mobile phone app was launched without any user testing. Metro had received some negative feedback about the “favorites” feature. Staff wanted to understand the problem, and identify other improvements that would be a high-priority for customers. They also wanted to explore the value of usability testing for the first time.

Process: As part of a UW graduate student team, we conducted usability testing of Metro’s new Trip Planner app. Findings and recommendations were presented to Metro stakeholders.

Impact: Video clips from the user tests and user satisfaction survey data (SUS) were particularly useful in demonstrating issues with the app. Metro added specific online “help” to immediately address some of the problems users had.

Completed  2015

Transit Website, Trip Planner

Finding out if a bus can get you from “here” to “there” is the most common task on the Community Transit website. Getting an answer to that question isn’t always as easy as it should be, and sometimes the answer can be wrong.Screenshot of Community Transit trip planning tools

As an employee of Community Transit, I was part of a cross-departmental team that redesigned the website to focus on trip planning and bus schedules, and I was part of the regional team that worked to improve ATIS Trip Planner data. During my tenure, Community Transit added helpful website features such as “Service Nearby” and a list of all bus stops by route – displaying data the agency already had for the benefit of customers.

As a consultant in 2016 and 2017, the agency has hired me to do functional testing of the Trip Planner and associated data. Projects benefit from my familiarity with ATIS, usability principles, Community Transit’s routes and service area, and above all from my knowledge of transit user needs and expectations.

Bus Route MapsRoute 280 map

Problem: The old route maps did not provide context to help people plan how to get to major destinations and were literally “sketchy.” I proposed the project to redesign all 50+ route maps using GIS data and key customer destinations.

Process: I developed the RFP for the project, and we hired King County GIS to do the work, while insuring that in-house staff would be able to maintain the maps in the future.

Our design team worked to include the right level of detail, such as major cross streets and destinations, without overwhelming customers. I tested our map designs with customers through outreach at park & rides.

Accuracy of the new maps was also essential. We did extensive quality assurance and review.

Impact: The new map design got instant kudos from customers and customer service staff, and have stood the test of time.

Completed 2008