A new time zone, and the power of video

Weeknotes #33: Jan 4–8, 2021

First full week back at work, and I am working from a new province!

Over the New Year break, Sara and I moved from Ottawa ON to Penticton, BC. We are in an Airbnb while our townhouse gets built, but when you work from home, you can kinda work from anywhere!

The one new challenge is the time zone. Pacific time is 3 hours behind Eastern time, where most of my colleagues work. I’ve been experimenting with what hours to work. On Monday I sat at my desk at 6am to start work at 9am, but I actually didn’t have a lot to collaborate with teammates on, so it wasn’t really necessary for me to be working that early. Then I ran at noon ET (9am PT). When I got back I warmed up some tofu and veggies for lunch.. and then realized it wasn’t even 10am yet!

That day seemed very long…

As the week progressed, I think a reasonable schedule has emerged. Start work at 8am PT (11am ET) so I have an hour overlap with the ET folks before they go on lunch. Then either run at 9am (noon) or noon (3pm). Running at noon breaks the day up nicely and then I have an afternoon of focus time to get work done. At least for now when I don’t have a ton of meetings scheduled, that seems to work fine. We’ll see whether I need to adjust this as things get more busy. I’m certainly open to some flexibility in my schedule, but I’m committed to some time outdoors during the daylight every day!

As for actual work..

For the past month+, I’ve been working on some testing of Top Tasks on the Canada.ca website. There’s a deliverable of a powerpoint deck, but you can only share so much with graphs and words, as there will be a lot of context missing as you try to describe what’s going on. There’s been some talk of the team starting to prepare highlight video reels as well as the written documentation, so I decided to give it a try for a few of the scenarios.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re using TryMyUI for our unmoderated testing. The platform makes it pretty easy to timestamp and annotate parts of the recordings and then stitch them together to create a single recording. This way I could share video of users’ frustrations or confusion not by trying to describe what they did or were trying to do, but simply by showing a small snippet.

One decision I made was to include several similar clips of people making the same error. At first I thought that may seem duplicative, but it illustrated the point. This wasn’t a one-off response, several people had the same impression or expectation (that we were not delivering).

These videos were certainly nothing like polished iMovie clips we’ve created in the past with intros, fade-outs and captions, but this took a fraction of the time, and doesn’t need to stand alone as its own deliverable. Overall, I was pretty happy with my first foray into pulling together some of these clips and expect to do more of it going forward!

This week I also did some research into visualizations: looking at how interactive visualizations may be made accessible, as well as looking at how to represent the trends and changes to our key task metrics over time. This won’t really be implemented until we re-test our Top Tasks in several months, but I want to work on the presentation in advance so we just have to drop in the data when we’ve got it.

Sr UX Specialist with Canada Revenue Agency, former web dev and product person. 🔎 Lifelong learner. Unapologetic introvert. Plant-powered marathoner. Cat mom.

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