Stack Exchange (Stack Overflow)

Role: Product Manager, User Experience Lead

Company: Stack exchange is a network of question and answer sites for mostly technical audiences. As of early 2014, it is a top 50 US site with approximately 3,000,000 visitors per day. Stack Overflow,  the first question and answer site, one of the most popular programmer references in the world.

When: 2012-2014

I managed a team of approximately 15 developers and designers as the only product manager for the network of over 120 question-and-answer sites.

My primary focus there was to improve usability and remove friction from key pathways.

However, my first major project was to institute metrics based decision-making into a process that was mostly gut feeling.  We started off with Mixpanel, but quickly outgrew the tool and did a custom rewrite in-house within a year.  I was completely responsible for the design and specifications, including the user interface, for the new tool. When I left the company, our internal tool was not only being used by the Q&A  team, but had been adopted by the careers 2.0 team and the mobile team on both iOS and android.   Usage also spanned the entire company, from programmers to marketing and community.

With a functioning events-based metrics system, I completed a full re-factor of the sign-up system.  This project was especially challenging because we had chosen to use open ID  for authentication, giving users an infinite number of ways by which they could sign up on our network.  A user may sign up using Facebook (technically oAuth)  but forget when they return to log in.  By introducing easier lazy registration, clarifying pathways and eliminating points of failure, and reducing steps, we managed to increase sign-ups by approximately 5%.

We introduced a global top bar redesign for every site in the network. The task was to  make the Stack Exchange brand more obvious, improve the information architecture of the top bar, add additional real-time functionality, and reduce the need to make frequent visits to the profile page.  In addition to succeeding on the primary goals of the design, moving the “hot questions” out of the top bar and into the sidebar resulted in an over 1000% increase in engagement.  Hot questions traffic is now a major driver of cross site engagement throughout the network.

The badges, privileges, and user profile pages were all redesigned, with the goal of simplification without losing information density, and we added a help center to centralize the location of documentation, historical discussions, and procedures for the network. Previously, all of this information was dispersed inside of the “meta” sites.

I completed the initial UX and wireframes for both the android and the iOS apps, which served as a basis for the designs that shipped almost a year later. In particular, I’m responsible for the sideswipe functionality in the homepage feed for both apps.