FeetFirst.org User Research

Feet First is a non-profit dedicated to promoting safe, walkable communities in the state of Washington.

Nonprofits generally do not have the resources available to conduct user research to develop a UX plan for their sites.

I conducted user research for Feetfirst.org with the goal of learning the purpose and limitations of 4 common research methods. The results from the research could then be used to inform a UX plan to meet business goals of increased membership and donations.

Heuristic Review

Competitive Analysis


Contextual Interview

Card Sort

Feetfirst Capture-iMacFeetfirst Capture-iMac

Heuristic Evaluation & Competitive Analysis 

My approach was to evaluate the FeetFirst website as well as a competitor site using Nielsen’s standard website heuristics. My competitor site would be Los Angeles Walks which is an organization that works to make walking safe and accessible for the city of Los Angeles. 

I am making the assumtion that the end users would have the following 3 goals:

  1. Find information about Feet First
  2. Donate, Become a Member, Sign up for Newsletter
  3. Find information about their neighborhood

It was important to choose heuristics for the evaluation that would best reflect the target audience user flow. Therefore, I choose the 5 following Nielsens's: 

  1. Match Between System & Real World
  2. Consistency & Standards
  3. Error Prevention 
  4. Aesthetic and Miminalist Design
  5. User Control and Freedom

Both sides will then be rated on a scale of 1 (a lot of usability issues) to 3 (satisfies user goals) for each heuristic. 

"About Us" and "What We Do" could mean the same thing to the user. However, on the site, each menu options gives different information. A user could mean to find something that they think is on the "About Us" page but is really in the "What We Do" page. In addition, both menu options are on different ends of the navigation bar. A user could possibly not notice the "About Us" page. 

The "Sign up for Enews," "Donate," and "Upcoming Walks" buttons are a seperate navigation that is easy to see for the user as a call to action to achieve their user goals. 

The side navigation, the carousel, and icon navigation add to the number of options that could lead the user trying to figure out what phrase means what and where to go to get the information they seek. 

The sign up form for e-news will accept an empty form. 


There are several menu options for "Walks and Maps," Users could think that some of them mean the same thing or not sure what will lead them to where they want to go. 

In additon, the wall of text is not scimable. Users will normally not spend a lot of time reading, especially if they just want to quickly look up a close by neighborhood. 

Los Angeles Walks

A simple main navigation with options users except to help guide them to their goal. 

Blog type showcase that users may not know will lead them to certain information. 

When the user would try to find events in and near Los Angeles, the Events tab leads them to the next upcoming event as expected. 

However, the calendar does not reflect being updated with any new information or additional events. 


My recommendations based on this hueristic evaluation and competitive analysis would be: 

  1. Information Architecture - Simplify the menu to help direct users to the information they want to find. 
  2. Design - There is a lot of information being displayed all at once to the user. The design should better communicate that information in an aesthetically pleasing, easy to diguise manner.  
Feet FirstFeet First

“They smile and say hello. It’s simple, but it’s the most positive part of walking in my neighborhood. ”


Contextual Interviews


The heuristic review and competitive analysis was a fast, low cost way to measure and improve the website. However, I needed to know more about how my users would be using the site. I conducted contextual interviews to gain insight into the context in which a new user would be using the First Feet website.

My approach for the interview questions was to split the questions into 3 subject matters: 

  1. Experience and Use - What is the users previous experience? Questions like this would help me develop what their mental model may be coming to the site for the first time. 
  2. Expectations and Preferences - What expectation does the user have for the site? Knowing if there is an overwhelming expectation for a certain feature or information will help guide user-centered design decisions. 
  3. Perfect World - What does the user want without limitation? Users may have the solution to their problem.
  1. Users do not go for walks outside of commuting. This is mostly due to unsafe conditions.
  2. It’s split between users about if they will plan a walk or not.
  3. Suggestion of an interactive map.
  4. Suggestion of highlighted routes that have been audited already
  5. No interest in meetups, but only because they did not know about it.
  6. Request of additional resources for parks.


  1. Information Architecture - Users need to be able to find Meetups and Map more easily. 
  2. Reviews - Users express concerns for safety. Give users a space to leave reviews on the safety of their neighborhood or have access to already audited neighborhoods. 

Open Card Sort


Navigation was a trend in my previous studies so I conducted an open card sort to research what main and sub navigation labels make the most sense to the user. I had 8 users participate in this study using Optimal Workshop.



  1. Information Architecture - 3 main navigation menu options : About, Resources, & Action.