Skip directly to content

Solving "Think-Aloud" Issues

on Fri, 12/26/2014 - 00:49

We are in the final stretch of the Project launch effort, which means we are pivoting from a developer-focused organization to a user-focused one.

In furtherance of that goal, Project contributors recently ran think-aloud studies to find user experience failure. The results showed Privly's original simplicity drifted to the point where users invariably fail to post content without help. To solve this all-important issue before our public launch, Privly contributors gathered in rural Oregon in November for a Strategic Retreat. The goal: get the on-boarding process below two minutes. Changes touched nearly every system in Privly, a bulleted summary of the changes are included below:

  • We moved all material pertaining to the project that is not Privly Foundation business off of This means users should never see the website unless they want to know more about the organization behind the project-- or this blog.
  • We removed options, including the ability to select from multiple applications. Other applications will be built into a "secret menu" that can accessed if the user types the proper address into the address bar. Additional applications will be unveiled as we solve the user experience for the initial application.
  • We combined the front page of and the download page into a single page and re-wrote the materials to target users instead of developers.
  • We developed an onboarding diagram to track all the points users may potentially join the project.

As soon as all these changes are deployed to users, we will re-run our think-aloud studies. If our efforts are successful, users will be able to post content under two minutes from starting the task.

Think-aloud results weren't the only item of business during the weekend. Additional discussion revolved around future development priorities. While we cannot realistically assign release dates to each of these features, the general path forward is as follows (names are replaced by their IRC nicks):

  1. Smcgregor will work on better documentation for the developer community, with particular focus on the selenium and unit testing infrastructure.
  2. We will conduct final testing and push out to the Kickstarter users.
  3. Irdan and Bramwelt will publish their key trust spec to a related Mozilla mailing list.
  4. Irdan and Bramwelt will ship public key messaging capabilities.
  5. Full_vlad and Smcgregor will work on seamless posting capabilities. This means the user will be able to post contents without ever leaving the host page.
  6. SpectralSun will then be working on federating the web servers. This will require turn-key servers deployable on Digital Ocean, Heroku, or home-hosted hardware. This will also require changes to the way Privly whitelists content servers.
  7. Then the project will concentrate on enabling realtime communication with OTR.
  8. Finally, development work will focus on fluidic key sharing and leveraging distributed hash tables.

During each of these developments the project will remain open to additional contributors developing their own Privly App, but the core of the work is in strengthening the UX of an exemplary set of features.

We have additional notes and proceedings in a public Etherpad.