We have been assigned check in on the site and see if there’s any way we can help you improve it. Note that this is a more hands-on, site-by-site and case-by-case basis evaluation, not related to the Quality Evaluations already done on other sites.

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts: firstly, you have a solid site! This community has been working hard for a long time (over two years!) and you have the site to prove it. You have 99% of your questions answered, the questions seem to be about a wide range of topics and your Meta has healthy activity. Did you know that your Twitter page also has a comparatively high number of followers? That’s great! People are interacting with UX.SE on other sites! These are behaviors common to good sites, and we’re pleased to see your site succeeding at them.

Like with every site, there’s always room for improvement! With every other aspect of the site looking healthy, we think these are some areas that we can now focus time and energy on.

  • Visitors per day is relatively low at 5.3k/day
  • Your total number of questions (5.9k) is about average compared to other sites your age
  • Your questions per day is also a bit average at 12
  • The site also hasn’t gotten a blog off the ground, despite some talk on Meta about one

Now, I’m not saying any of these stats are abysmal; they’re all relatively fine, but there’s no reason we can’t work towards improving them. With regards to these targeted areas, here are some resources and ideas for enabling improvement:

  • To improve visitors per day, try sharing your questions via other social media sites you use (click on the “share” button below any question). There is a badge for sharing that can be awarded multiple times: the Announcer badge. Perhaps we enter everyone who earns the Announcer badge into a lottery for a TBD, awesome prize?
  • To improve the number of questions asked per day, as well as increase the number of total questions, perhaps the community needs more to talk about. We can provide the community with grants for items in the UX field that would facilitate conversation (we've done this over on Arqade a bunch).
  • If there’s nothing we can buy for the community right now, we can start hosting Topic of the Week events, where tags are chosen by the community and any questions within that tag during a set period of time are eligible for a prize.
  • Want a blog? Start a blog!

We are relying on you, the core user community, to implement and spearhead these efforts. You know the site and we want to enable you to improve it! You have our attention and also a modest budget with which to launch some of these initiatives. Let's discuss!

If you, or other core users of the site, have any other ideas of what can be tried to improve on these metrics, or any other element of the site you see as problematic, please leave an answer to this meta post. Our team will be working with a small selection of sites for the next several weeks (UX is the first!), and you can feel free to reach out to us directly for support.


UPDATE: Both a Topic of the Week contest and Announcer Badge Reward have been started. Please leave suggestions for future topics of the week!

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This is really great post, in my opinion, because it includes some steps that individual users can do themselves. –  Aarthi Nov 15 '12 at 19:49
    
We're having a discussion on chat on your topic, Brett - and I for one wonder which metric needs most attention first - and what the goal on that metric may be by the end of Q1 2013? –  Benny Skogberg Nov 15 '12 at 20:36
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@BennySkogberg I'd say they're all equally as important, but the one that could use the most improvement is "visitors." I'll try to figure out what a goal should be, but I think any lasting improvement is an improvement worth having! –  Brett White Nov 15 '12 at 20:46
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6 Answers

I posted a new suggestion for our brand and identity here: http://meta.ux.stackexchange.com/a/1154/249

I think we should reinvest in a new brand for the site. When we graduated from beta as UX.SE, we got a big boost (not just in terms of traffic, but also in terms of morale), but it's fading now. It's time for a new boost by deciding on our own identity.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that it's becoming increasingly noticeable to me that using "User Experience Stack Exchange" as our brand is a detriment to our growth.

First of all, the name is a mouthful. It sucks to have to say it and you need to explain it every time. Second, the brand name is dependent on Stack Exchange and by proxy Stack Overflow to be understood. Every time I introduce someone to UX.SE I first have to explain what the entire network is. I don't want to have to do that, I just want to be able to say "Q&A for UX designers". But the name by itself ("User Experience") is too broad to use as a brand name. And if you include Stack Exchange, now someone is confused.

That's why I'm proposing a new name: Uxbrella. See the abovementioned post for an explanation of the name and a suggestion for brand, tagline and logo. It might not be the best name ever, but I think it's a good name and I'm less interested in the perfect name and more so in having one that we can use to market ourselves more accurately. "I'm a moderator with Uxbrella, a Q&A site for designers. You should check it out sometime! Here's my business card." works so much better than having to go into the whole Stack Exchange thing every time.

Let's make an effort to put something out there. It can be Uxbrella or something else but I think it's time we refocused and created a brand we can truly own similar to Arqade or Ask Different. Something that reflects our community, our central topic, and our vision.

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Create a LinkedIn group for the site. It will increase our presence in the social world, and market the site in a very well-targeted audience (the bulk of our connections on LinkedIn are colleagues). We can have Question of the Week posts there, etc. I don't have a more convincing plan, but it's free and it only takes a minute, so what's the harm in trying? :).

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I think this is a good idea, and I'm going to look into it. We don't really have a consistent or unified presence on much social media, so it could be hard to figure out just from a "voice" angle, but I will look into it. –  Brett White Dec 4 '12 at 21:21
    
That's great news! –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Dec 5 '12 at 5:53
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I have an idea.

It may not improve the specified metrics directly, and it may even harm some of them if we're not careful, but I believe that it will have a very beneficial impact on the site as a whole, mostly through improving user engagement.

I think it would be great to have a live window into the chat room on the main site. It can be a relatively small window on the right-side panel, instead of the current "X people chatting" box (but bigger).

One of the problems we have here is new users retention - new people don't stick around. They find their way to the site, they ask a question, it will often get closed because nobody reads the FAQ, and they give up. Even if it doesn't get closed, they will get a few answers, usually won't bother accepting one (or won't be aware of the accepting mechanism at all), and then they're gone.

I think that if everyone who logs on would also be automatically logged into the chat room, and the chat room would have some live presence on the site itself, it would both increase user engagement for existing users and improve the noob experience by a great deal.

Recently a friend of mine complained that he had just posted a question and he's getting very bad reactions, and he tried posting questions in the past and they always got shut down. Since I knew some of the background to his question I was able to edit it into shape. I think that if a chat room was active on the site itself and some more experienced members hanged around in it, they would be able to address this in real time - maybe ping him and ask for more context, or advise on ways to improve the question. Some did attempt to do this in the comments, but it didn't work very well. I think that it would work better in a live chat.

Now from a different angle. Personally, I hardly ever go into the chat room, because I'm at work and if I went there, it would be me basically saying "ok, now I'm going to waste a lot of time during work". I'm not there yet :). I can make this decision because the chat room is a separate browser tab which requires me to actively log in. If it were part of the main site, I would definitely take a much more active part in it. Yes, it would come at the expense of my work, but that's not SE's problem :). And yes, it's possible that some people go to the extreme of saying "I'd rather not log into UX.SE at all during work hours because the chat room sucks me in" - but A) the loss of traffic caused by this would be nothing next to the gain in traffic as a result of greater user engagement, because people get addicted, and B) we could provide control over automatic login in user settings.

One danger that I see in this suggestion is the loss of questions in favor of the chat room. After all, it's easier to ask something in a live chat than write a question and hope for someone to answer it. But I don't think that it's as bad as that after all: 1. Most of the questions that would be lost aren't high quality questions. If they can be answered immediately, then they're either off-topic and would be closed or reduce the overall quality in any case, or they're quick "what's this called" questions. A high quality thorough question isn't going to be asked in a chat room. 2. Members can always say "let's make this a question". We could even build this into the chat room UI - e.g. select a phrase and click "make a question out of this" (of course, much additional editing would be required. This wouldn't have much added value as a UI element but still, having it would be a good way to encourage this behavior and increase awareness).

Finally, a better integration of the chat room will help cut down on the unnecessary chat-like comments.

I feel I better sum this up :)

TL;DR version

  1. Higher engagement means more traffic, more time people spend on the site, higher virality, better metrics.
  2. Real-time chat means higher engagement.
  3. The current chat is too inaccessible to make a difference. It's basically reserved for people who are hooked in any case.
  4. Integrating a panel of the chat room on the site would benefit both noobs and existing users.

Of course, the details need to be thoroughly thought through.

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+1 I think this is a great idea, since it makes it easier to cut down on the noob hate we sometimes see here. The site is of no use if only the "inner circle" uses it. –  Benny Skogberg Nov 19 '12 at 11:37
    
I think this makes sense, and I do think that user retention is a big area of concern. I don't think, however, that we'll be able to implement this change, just because it's a big one to the core functionality and layout of the sites. It's a big ask, and I think efforts will be better used in the already existing site format. Big changes like this should be brought up on MSO, and I think it's worth mentioning. I will say that the Community team is working very hard to make experiences like that of your friend a rarity. The new user experience is at the forefront of our thoughts, definitely :) –  Brett White Nov 19 '12 at 16:00
    
I think this is worth trying, even if I don't know what will happen if we do it. –  Rahul Nov 19 '12 at 17:20
    
@BrettWhite Yes, I expected that it would be a bigger change than you had in mind :). But what if we meet halfway and just place a read-only panel, looking into the chat room, with a big fat call-to-action to join it? This should be relatively painless and a good case for A/B testing. With SE's personalization capabilities it can also be easily adapted for newbies, especially those who are in the middle of writing a question (to be placed on the question page in this case). I think it would have a significant positive impact as well. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Nov 19 '12 at 17:32
    
@VitalyMijiritsky It's not the kind of change this Drive is looking for (which I failed to put into the Meta post; whoops!). A change as big as this can be brought up separately and tagged "feature request." The Improvement Drive needs to be things that can be done now; "feature requests" are definitely welcome, as they help improve the site, but they cannot be implemented quickly. That's because we don't yet have the manpower to do something for one site that isn't done by ALL the sites. So it's not just getting a chat window installed on the home page, but ALL home pages. –  Brett White Nov 19 '12 at 20:30
    
I see, ok then :) –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Nov 19 '12 at 20:32
    
This is an interesting idea, but one more thing to consider: users with less than 20 rep cannot post in chat rooms (though they can still be there in read-only mode). If we make chat more prominent, and new (or even unregistered) users see it and want to join, it'll wind up frustrating them. And we already give them plenty to be frustrated about. ;) –  Laura Nov 21 '12 at 15:26
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@Laura Or we can just let users with less than 20 rep post in chat rooms :). I'm sure it affects all kinds of background stuff, but everything can probably be tweaked to allow this. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Nov 21 '12 at 16:55
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Regarding the social media bit and increasing the number of visitors per day. Anyone who wants to share a question can do it easily enough, the trick is encouraging those who haven't considered it yet, and promoting the sharing options. So, some textbook UX suggestions on improving virality:

1) Making the sharing options more prominent by placing them on the front page, without the need to dive into a question to share it. Different mechanisms may be employed to make it mor effective, such as displaying it just for high-quality questions, by views and/or upvotes - so it's more thought provoking and encouraging, and so it seems less like a thoughtless static part of the website. Guaranteed to increase sharing. A very crude example:

enter image description here

2) Placing a "recently tweeted" box on the left-hand panel, along with the popular sharing options.

3) Increasing Facebook presence by creating a Facebook app. Currently I see that there is a Facebook page for SE, which is fine, but it's kind of passive and doesn't really help anyone. A Facebook app, however, can do stuff like automatically posting on your profile the questions and answers you posted, badges you got etc. It can place a customized Flair box on your FB profile, keep count of your rep and achievements etc. This is probably the most effective way of the three.

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This is very similar to the sharing function that we previously had, which was removed due to apparent lack of use (more info here: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/140190/…). Any event or activity done that encourages sharing has to use the existing sharing function, which hides the sharing icons behind the "share" link. I think this is a solid suggestion, but any changes to the site have to be placed on a long queue, and right now our dev attention is stretched thin. –  Brett White Nov 19 '12 at 20:20
    
Fair enough. What do you think about the FB app option? –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Nov 19 '12 at 20:28
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I personally think the Facebook app is a great idea, and quite vital. I'm a big champion of social media integration on the sites, for sure (since getting new people to our sites is my job). Facebook apps have been discussed, so know that it's definitely on our mind, but actually developing and implementing something like that (which would be for every site on the ever-growing network) takes a bit of time. But I do love the idea. –  Brett White Nov 19 '12 at 20:32
    
We could make a Chrome extension or something as a prototype that frequent users could install that adds those buttons, as a first step. –  Rahul Nov 19 '12 at 21:21
    
@BrettWhite BTW, the sharing function you mention was also only available within the question. That limits its visibility many times over, compared to showing these links on the questions list page. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Nov 20 '12 at 6:00
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I think we need to widen the scope of the site and be more including than excluding. Today we close a lot of questions as off topic, just because a user doesn't exactly formulate a question in the narrow scope that we allow. If it's a first time user she is less interested to come back and ask another questions, with the potential of it being closed. Not a very good way to welcome new users. I admit - I am one of those guys participating in the closing activity excluding questions (and users). I need to change this behavior, and help new users instead.

User Experience is (to me) a cross disciplinary science area including Marketing, Cognitive Science, HCI, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Information Design, Programming (at a high abstract level), English (in terms of phrases, labeling and terminology) and a couple of other disciplines. The article User experience definitions lists 27(!) different definitions on User Experience, which at least makes me feel humble on deciding what is and what is not a UX.SE question.

So my simple suggestion is to review the scope of UX.SE in order to widen it a little to make it more including than excluding.


Edit

Based on the comments below - here are some suggestions:

  • Edit “Icon for X” questions not too localized to visual metaphor requests and reopen? and continue to evaluate icon requests as possible metaphor requests with ideas of representation rather than graphic design.
  • Allow tool questions related to User Experience which may include prototyping and scetching tools, web analytics tools, card sorting tools, content management tools, taxonomy tools and more within the field. The outer boundry not valid question could be "is this better then that", but we would allow "How do I do X on tool Y". Shopping questions would still be off topic.

Disclaimer:

Part of the answer originates from my answer on the question When and how often do we review what questions are acceptable?

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Inclusive vs exclusive is a biased way to frame the argument; it's like calling it "pro-life" instead of "anti-abortion". What we're talking about are quality standards. The scope really isn't exclusionary, the quality standards more arguably are. The scope is intentionally defined quite broadly and as-such we close very few things as off topic except programming/implementation, pure graphic design and icon requests (which were a special case) –  Ben Brocka Jan 20 '13 at 22:38
    
And, more importantly... how? I always see these "be more inclusionary" requests with no specific goal; it's a great way to drum up support but it's a terrible way to affect change. What's off-topic that shouldn't be? Just icon requests? Recommendations? Questions asking for examples? –  Ben Brocka Jan 20 '13 at 22:39
    
@BenBrocka I added a few examples that I could think of just out of the blue. The idea is to overcome Bretts initial idea of gaining more traffic to UX.SE. One way is to widen the scope instead of only pursuit organic growth. Events do draw more traffic, but when the events are over - things tend to go back to the same level as before. But again, these are only suggestions on gaining more traffic here. –  Benny Skogberg Jan 21 '13 at 7:37
    
Not sure I can agree on the tool one either. Tools usually have support forums and those "how do I use X" have strangled a good deal of life out of Graphic Design.se already, I'd have to see that happen here where I have to ignore half the questions to get to the actual UX questions under the torrent of Photoshop/Axure/Balsamiq/whatever support questions –  Ben Brocka Jan 21 '13 at 13:22
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Ventrilo servers to members with the highest reputation. My experience with counter-strike is that 6 or 7 people hanging out in one room is a good maximum. Also, please give me a slot because I thought of it. :)

  • Vent servers are cheap (we're talking $3/month for 10 person servers)
  • Anyone who's ever 'gamed' knows how awesome this could be
  • In case you don't know, imagine having homies all over the world that you get to see every once in awhile when you travel to conferences. They share your passion and live in a different part of the world. That makes them super interesting.
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I'm not sure how this would be better than chat. People hang out in Ventrilo servers for games because they're at home relaxing. But people don't hang out in UX.SE chat to relax, they do so to learn something, often during work hours. That makes a Ventrilo chat impractical and likely not something that would be used. I don't think I've seen you in chat either, Tyler, so why not start there? –  Rahul Nov 19 '12 at 19:29
    
You're completely missing the point. The computer is an interactive object. Unlike sitting at home watching TV, when you're on the computer you're doing things. People chat in ventrilo to work together toward accomplishing tremendous feats that people in the "real world" couldn't dream of accomplishing. Video games are incredibly motivating. And this context is completely different from gaming voip. As a designer, can you really predict all the scenarios and outcomes without testing it? Of course not. You're just talking based on your own assumptions and a false mental model. –  Tyler Langan Nov 20 '12 at 3:24
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OK, let's say I'm wrong and so are the other two people who downvoted you but didn't care enough to post a constructive comment like I did. Go ahead and set up a Ventrilo chat! And we'll see how it goes. –  Rahul Nov 20 '12 at 12:34
    
Challenge accepted. Now to pick a name. UX Wizards, Jedi, Rockstars, Evangelists, Pundits, or Ninjas. Choose wisely. –  Tyler Langan Nov 23 '12 at 13:24
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