Thursday, 14 January 2016

The reader journey - keeping things moving

I've been a bit quiet for the past couple of months (on here, at least), mostly because there's been quite a lot of life and other work happening (including a weekly blog for Westminster Business School).

But it's now January, and I'm back, with a new take on the HayleyWorld reader journey. In case you want to follow my progress, previous posts on this subject are 1. here, 2. here and 3. here

A productive meeting with development partner Michael Kowalski of Contentment, interviewing text mining expert Dr Stephan Ludwig  and reading James Pennebaker's The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us inspired me to
  • redraw the journey algorithm
  • change a couple of the forms I/William Hayley ask readers to complete
  • thinking more deeply about how I frame the content from Hayley's Memoirs and other ego-documents.
Michael flagged two issues.
  1. We were asking readers to choose their second batch of three subject areas (the first form currently gives them a choice of 11, the next one offers a choice of 8), before they'd exhausted the material from their first batch. This felt unintuitive and slightly confusing
  2. There's nothing - aside from a changed chapter heading (they look like this in the current draft)  to indicate when a topic has been exhausted. 

As a result, the reader journey now has…

1. A contextual essay at the end of each topic. These will be in my voice rather than Hayley's, as they'll need to provide context. Their tone and content will need to complement, rather than repeat, the short marginalia commentaries. Thinking as I type, I'm wondering whether they might work even better as short video presentations. Will need to discuss that idea with Michael and my PhD supervisors (Profs Ian Gadd & Kate Pullinger), and, if it's a possible way ahead, create at least one
written and one filmed example over the next month or two, so that we can user-test both formats

This has also made me think about the number of subjects/chapters in the app. As you can see from the form below I've rounded the previous 11 up to 12 by adding sensibility. However, given the volume of work involved in creating essays/videos, I'm leaning towards rounding down to nineThis will involve merging 3 x 2 pairs of subjects, with love and marriage along with children and education being obvious start-points.

The latest iteration. There will be more…

2. A form with several free text fields. Aside from a couple of simple requests for basic info – for a reader's name, for instance – my plan was to avoid this, simply because developing a way of responding effectively to this mode of user input would be too big and complex a job.

Reading The Secret Life of Pronouns provoked a change of mind: we still won't be using readers' free text input to trigger a response from the HayleyWorld app. But we're aiming to use it to measure readers'engagement/involvement in two ways. Firstly, by the extent of their input – more words are likely to suggest higher level of engagement/involvement with the app, fewer, a lower level.

And, secondly, by using a tool – hopefully the one on The Secret Life of Pronouns website – to measure how far (if at all) a reader's use of function words (including pronouns, articles, prepositions, auxiliary words… there's a list on p22 of the book, and a brief explanation on the website homepage) mirrors Hayley's (or mine, when I'm writing as him).

Here's my first draft of this form (nb: in the app itself, there will be either nine or six options for the reader to choose from, as they will already have chosen their first three subjects)…

Um… I think that's more than enough for now. Thanks for reading. Next week I'm planning to review On Life-Writing edited by Zachary Leader.

No comments:

Post a Comment