DevCentral is F5’s community resource forum. Having not been touched in some time a redesign of the page IA, UX and UI was called for. I joined the project and started to research community forums existing for developers and what standards they had in common.
We quickly discovered by stakeholder, expert and user interviews that some requests of UI and UX patterns that were flashier and mimicked some similar list sites such as news sources were unlikely to resonate with the community.
Through surveys I discovered that users that came for a known purpose was to read an article then to ask or respond to a question. Our traffic from external sources was existing but lower then typical at about 8% and most users returned to the site several times a week for advanced technical content. This lead us to segment our user base in two mail types, our existing expert user who we needed to maintain and new users who could easily get involved.
Users loved the ease of questions and answers as well as the ability to share code and download resources. The key weaknesses that users experienced was on logging in, navigation, search functionality, and visibility of admins.
I focused on improving the search capability, codeshare, commenting hierarchy, logged out experience, user profile and visibility of admin while advising on the UI and navigation, filtering, and potential gamification options.
Search as it was emplemented, changes on it needed to be site wide and at the time still needed to use Google for filter results limiting us on what we could do. I was able to develop a functionality which was unintrusive on marketing pages and an improvement on community pages. This limitation was fixed in 2016.
After launch we did see an improvement in the rates of the number of people using improved features such as codeshare shown above. Tracking for longest term outcomes has been limited and has not shown a full picture, although based on further survey results engagement and satisfaction are both up since the redesign despite growth of user base being stagnant from a while post launch.