Spotlight on User Experience Research

Friday, November 24, 2006 at 6:40 PM

By Donal Mountain, User Experience Researcher

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you will have noticed that we've been making incremental improvements to Google Base. Last week Dave spoke about the new Bulk Uploading dashboard and in September, Ellen introduced the new Google Base homepage. These are two among many more changes to come.

As a User Experience Researcher, my job is to work with the rest of the Base team to make sure that we understand the ways in which Google Base works well for you, our users, and the ways in which it doesn't work for you. This helps us make well-informed decisions about what to work on next.

We try to understand how people use Google Base in different ways. We read the conversations in the discussion forum, and we pay close attention to the what the blogosphere has to say.

We also run usability studies, where we invite people in to our labs to try out new or existing features. We are interested in hearing what they have to say, but we're even more interested in observing what they actually do. We watch the steps they take to complete a task, and with special eye trackers, we can even see what part of the screen they look at.

We try to figure out why people are having difficulty, and then we come up with changes that make things easier. Of course, we also test those changes, to make sure our initial hunches were right!

If you would like to participate in a user study, you can sign up at, or drop us an email at