30 July 2021

Usability Challenges

Written by: Emma Chan

Typically, in the field of science communications, we ask ourselves the question, what message do we want to communicate to our audience? However, in my role as a DFP, I’ve learned to ask the opposite question-what does our audience want to hear from us? A related question that I’ve been asking myself a lot is, how can we ensure that our audience learns this information as easily as possible? This is the backbone of the field of usability, which I have been learning about throughout my directorate fellowship. Previously, I had little experience with usability, but it has become one of the most interesting topics that I learned about this summer.

I have been developing resources for hunters to learn about how harvest survey data is used and its important role in migratory bird population data. Since I have a science background, I find this all very interesting and want to learn about the specific statistical methods used to analyze the data. However, I have been learning that hunters might have different interests from me and I need to view the project from their perspective. To do this, I have been developing “personas,” which is a process that lists a viewer’s traits, environment, experience, and motivations. Then, I will base the data visualizations on my persona’s needs. For example, many hunters are interested in local information because hunting conditions are very local. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tends to work with data on a state or national level. This has been a challenging, but rewarding process. I hope that when hunters view my work, they learn the message that we want to communicate to them, but also enjoy and benefit from it.

Trying to approach my directorate fellow project from another person’s perspective has been an eye-opening experience, both professionally and personally. This concept will be applicable when I’m working as part of a team and when working with underrepresented or marginalized groups. I am grateful that so far, I have had the opportunity to learn about usability and other valuable skills throughout my DFP.  

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Patuxent NWR

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