[Presentation] Focusing on your Users

This week I had the privileged of speaking at the Michigan Usability Professionals Association (MIUPA) meeting. I can’t explain what a great group of people they are, I feel humbled being around so many people with much more formal experience and training than myself.

[slideshare id=1884615&doc=miupa-focus-on-users-090820053609-phpapp02&w=500]

My Approach

Although I come from a computer science background I love usability, user interaction and user interfaces. My approach has always been ad-hoc and unscientific. I like to just sit back and watch or ask random people in their natural settings and see how they react. Which ultimately leads to an ever evolving UI based on these observations and actions.

This method comes from my belief in the release early, release often agile development methodology. Small incremental steps that lead to the full result while making improvement along the way.

Usability Professionals

The audience was primarily usability professionals who pretty much do this for a living. So although I created the presentation above it really did not get used. I made the presentation more of a discussion about everyone’s experiences and how mine synced or collided with theirs.

The best part was a group from MSU’s Usability & Accessibility Center came all the way from Lansing. It was great to hear and talk with them about similar struggles higher education web professionals have.

Thank You

Overall it was a great meeting with most people staying after to talk further. I wanted to thank the MIUPA again for hosting me and the Southfield Public Library for providing a rocking facility.

[Speaking Event] MIUPA – Break Through the Administrative Barriers and Focus on Your Users

Tuesday August 18, 2009, 6-8:30PM

(Food and networking at 6, Program at 7)

Southfield Public Library in Southfield, MI

Nick DeNardis, associate director of web communications at Wayne State University will discuss his approach for reviewing and creating usable web sites.

  • A lot of people are involved with planning and constructing a single web site. How can you break through the administrative barrier and focus on your users?
  • Become an authority as a web professional and fend off requests that don’t meet your users goals.
  • Create a plan for testing and modifying the web site based on your users needs and how they actually use your site.
  • I will focus on higher education where a lot of sites offer the same “product”. Identify strategies to stand out and care about your users.
  • View your site from an outsiders perspective, does it pass the “ten second test”? Can you find the information you need?
  • And last but not least, did you take enough time to care about users with special needs?

Nick is the Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University. As host of the video blog, EDU Checkup, he reviews higher education websites from the point of view of a first time visitor, while critiquing the design, information architecture and code of the sites.

He is a staff writer at .eduGuru, a higher education marketing and web development blog. He takes an active role in the higher education web community by sharing his thoughts and real world analysis in the Wayne State Web Communications Blog.

Nick is also an officer for Refresh Detroit, a group of web professionals whose goal is to promote web standards, usability, and accessibility and to spread the knowledge of web design in the Detroit and Ann Arbor Michigan areas.


Southfield Public Library, “The Meeting Room”
26300 Evergreen Rd
Southfield, MI 48076 (map)
(248) 796-4200


$10 – UPA Members
$5 – Full-time students and people between jobs
$20 – All Others


RSVP to events@miupa.org (ensures we have enough food and drink for all)

Original Posted at: http://miupa.org/fresh/break-through-the-administrative-barriers-and-focus-on-your-users/

Social Media Panel Discussion Wrap Up

Refresh Detroit held a Social Media Panel Discussion on January 21, 2009 that I was lucky enough to be part of. It was the first time I had been part of a panel discussion and it was a great experience.

Refresh Detroit Social Media Panel

The panel consisted of (from left to right):

This free event took place at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There was ~30 people who attended from various industries, they came to get a better understanding of social media and how they can leverage it.

The questions brought out not only the direction and how to for beginners but also the best practices and case studies of the advanced users in the social media field.

On the Refresh Detroit Web site they posted the summary of resources and references.

In addition the entire panel was recorded and is available below.

Audio provided by VC Web Services:

Social Media Panel Discussion – January 21, 2009

refresh-logoInterested in social media? Do you want to hear me speak? On January 21 Refresh Detroit is hosting a Social Media Panel Discussion at Washtenaw Community College. It is a free event and open to the public.

Learn about the opportunities social media brings for individuals, companies, and social causes. Find out how to use social media to

  • engage your customers
  • grow your career or business
  • drive social change
  • and more


  • Kevin Krason, President, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Founder of Biznet in 1994, Kevin’s strong leadership and business savvy have led Biznet to become one of the most successful web development companies in Michigan. Kevin’s skill at getting everyone on the same page has been instrumental for Biznet in establishing long term client partnerships.
  • Shauna Nicholson, Marketing Manager, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Working exclusively in online marketing strategy, Shauna is known for her insight on social media marketing, Shauna is a resource for metro-Detroit businesses who want to leverage the most powerful online tools available. By transcending the social media hype and pairing reality-based business and marketing strategy to the tools, she positions clients to effectively secure measurable ROI.
  • Ken Burbary, VP Digital at BIG Communications
    Ken has been involved in web development and interactive media his entire professional career. Constantly learning, he soaks up as many new pieces of information as possible. He’s equally passionate about both business and technology innovations driving his industry.
  • Nick DeNardis, Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University
    Nick oversees a staff of eight dedicated to web communications at Wayne State. He has initiated and maintains all of the university’s current social media initiatives. He hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews a higher education web sites live. Nick is also a .eduGuru writer and an active member of the higher education web community.

Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan. We will be meeting in Room 121 at the Morris Lawrence Building (map). Plenty of free parking is available adjacent to the building.

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Cost: Free! Open to the public.