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Walking a Mile in Your Users' Shoes

Walking a Mile in Your Users' Shoes

A talk about User Empathy, as given at Railsconf '19


Jameson Hampton

May 01, 2019


  1. Walking a Mile in Your Users’ Shoes Jameson Hampton

  2. @jameybash

  3. 2 Traits of Programmers @jameybash

  4. A 3rd Trait for Programmers @jameybash

  5. What does it mean to work in tech?

  6. Everyone needs applications! • Advertising • Finance / Banking •

    Health care • Education • Non-profits • Agriculture This is a PERK of our industry @jameybash
  7. But why does industry matter?

  8. @jameybash Gender User Demographics: Stack Overflow

  9. @jameybash Race & Ethnicity User Demographics: Stack Overflow

  10. User Demographics: Stack Overflow @jameybash Age

  11. @jameybash Parents’ Education Level User Demographics: Stack Overflow

  12. Observations on those demographics… • They might kind of look…

    like us. • When we build applications, we think about what would feel intuitive. • If a developer works for Stack Overflow, and their application feels intuitive to them, maybe it’s pretty safe to guess that it will be intuitive to most their users too. @jameybash
  13. @jameybash User Demographics: Census of Agriculture

  14. User Demographics: Census of Agriculture @jameybash

  15. User Demographics: Census of Agriculture @jameybash

  16. User Demographics: Census of Agriculture @jameybash

  17. @jameybash

  18. Case Study #1: MediCapt

  19. MediCapt: “Transforming the documentation and prosecution of sexual violence” @jameybash

  20. Challenges I Expected To Face • Privacy concerns: ◦ Implemented

    custom PIN system; no storing images on camera roll • Chain of custody ◦ Digital “paper trail” of everyone who accessed files • Lack of wifi ◦ Planned a NoSQL solution to rely on eventual consistency @jameybash
  21. Then I actually went to DRC… …and it completely changed

    how I was thinking about the project @jameybash
  22. Challenges I *Actually* Faced • Lack of resources, more than

    just wifi • Inexperienced user base • Language barriers • Lack of tech support • Trust issues @jameybash
  23. Non-standard solutions to non-standard problems • A lot of market

    research & highly specialized equipment • Being willing to build stuff from scratch • A completely different kind of UI than what we’re used to @jameybash
  24. Case Study #2: Agrilyst

  25. Agrilyst: Your Virtual Agronomist @jameybash

  26. Site Visits! @jameybash

  27. Language: i18n ¿”Agrilyst” en español? • English • Spanish •

    French • Arabic @jameybash
  28. Layout/UI: Calendar View • What is user friendliness? • Something

    simple & intuitive to use • Relies on existing familiarity! @jameybash
  29. Mobile App • You could make the most perfect application

    in all the world, but if it’s not available for the device that your users actually use, it is worthless to them. @jameybash
  30. Features: ”Plant Sites” @jameybash

  31. Case Study #3(ish): Accessibility

  32. @jameybash

  33. Screen Readers • Alt text for photos • Photos/screencaps of

    text • Unicode “fonts”/excessive emoji @jameybash
  34. Use of color in design @jameybash

  35. Takeaway: Lessons in Empathy

  36. Cultivating empathy for your users is essential for creating an

    app that actually works for them @jameybash
  37. Predicting what people’s pain points will be is hard –

    and developers are bad at it @jameybash
  38. Make sure you’re solving the right problems by meeting your

    users and getting a feel for what it’s like to be them @jameybash
  39. Simple, clever solutions can often be just as valuable as

    highly technical solutions @jameybash
  40. Fostering empathy will improve your applications — and it will

    improve the world! @jameybash
  41. None
  42. Thanks for listening! jameybash.com @jameybash