Luke Hay, our User Research Director, has spent the last five months writing his book entitled Researching UX: Analytics. The book will show you, step-by-step, how you can use website and app analytics data to inform design choices and definitively improve user experience. Offering practical guidelines, with plenty of detailed examples. It's not every day that you have a book published, so I sat down with Luke to ask him a couple of questions about the process of writing and the book itself.
How did the opportunity to write the book come about?
I’ve been working with website analytics for a long time now. I started out using Web Trends back in the 1990’s and have been interested in what analytics tell us about website users ever since. I didn’t have any intention of writing a book. The publishers, SitePoint, got in contact with me having seen some articles and blog posts I’d written about analytics and UX. They were looking for an author for the analytics part of a series of UX books that they were publishing and found me as a result.
So, presumably this was a new experience for you – how did you find it?
The process was actually quite straight forward. Once I’d agreed to write the book the next step was to provide an outline of what each chapter would cover. During the process I has continuous support from two editors that the publisher provided and also a ‘technical editor’ of my own choosing. I asked Fresh Egg’s Duncan Heath to be my technical editor, and his input helped shape the book into something I can be proud of. In total, the process took about five months.
Who is the book targeted at?
The book is written primarily for people who work in UX. The main audience is UX designers and researchers however, it should be of interest to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of how people use their websites, and who those people are. The content of the book is really accessible. It doesn’t assume any prior knowledge of website analytics so it’s suitable for regular users of analytics package who want to know how it applies to their audience as well as those who are new to analytics. Amongst other things readers can learn where analytics sits in the UX process, how to use analytics to find potential areas for improvement and how to measure website changes. I would hope that it convinces some people who have been sceptical about analytics that the data can have real practical application for improving websites and getting to know more about website users. If it inspires people to pay more attention to their website analytics then it’ll have achieved its aims.
It must have been a really rewarding experience for you.
Yes, writing a book is a great, but intense(!), way of questioning everything you think about a subject. Writing down more or less everything I know about how to use analytics data to shape user experience has led me to thinking deeply about my day-to-day work. Having to come up with examples for theoretical ideas was a great way of questioning their validity. Also, thinking from the point of view of different types of potential reader gave me a new perspective on what I do.
What was the hardest part of the experience?
The writing itself was easier than I thought. Once I got started I was able to get into a flow and write a few thousand words, on a good day. The hardest part was editing draft chapters. The input from my editors was really useful, but also challenging. It can be demoralising to get back a chapter that you think you’ve finished only to see a whole load of new comments and suggestions! This is all part of the process though, and the only solution is to crack on with things and keep moving forward. I’ve no doubt that the edits I made to first drafts led to big improvements in the final content.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can work with me, and the rest of the CRO team here at Fresh Egg to find out how we can help them get the most from their websites. To find out more about me personally they can visit my website, follow me on Twitter or check out the Q&A forum that I’m taking part in and the book is available to order now.