dalas verdugo, Community Director at Vimeo

Vimeodalas verdugo [sic] is the Community Director at the video-sharing web site Vimeo.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post praising the great design and implementation of the company’s help page and dalas was nice enough to take some of his time to answer a few questions I had about the process behind the page and about the company in general.

Question: Did any help sites or web sites inspire the design and look/feel of the help page?
Answer: Our main designer for the Help page was Sockyung Hong, and I know he follows web design very closely, so I’m sure he had influences for the look and functionality of the page, but he’s also very innovative in his own right.

Question: Were designers or customer service people the driving force behind the site?
Answer: The Vimeo team works together unlike any company I have ever been a part of. We’re very collaborative and since we usually have the same goals in mind, it seems like we’re always on the same page. We have frequent meetings to discuss the projects we’re working on and we usually put a document up that all of us can edit so we can refine the copy to be clear and helpful.

Question: How have users reacted to having profiles of two Community Directors on the left hand side?
Answer: I think the members of Vimeo feel very personally connected to Blake and myself, and so it makes sense for us to introduce ourselves right off the bat. From the start, I wanted Help to be very approachable, which is why we offer several ways to get in touch with us, including Instant Message. I wish more companies would offer direct contact with people who can answer questions.

Question: When designing the page, what did designers try to keep in mind?
Answer: We always want the information to be clear, with easy instructions. We try to answer many of the frequently asked questions up front.

Question: What has been added / removed from the page since it first went up?
Answer: Oh man, I can’t remember at this point. Our design philosophy at Vimeo is one of constant refinement, so we are always updating parts of the site when we see an opportunity to make it better. It’s usually pretty obvious at any given time what is causing friction for users, so we try to address those points of friction as soon as possible and keep Vimeo easy to use and understand.

Question: What are thought processes behind those refinements?
Answer: Generally, you just have to listen to your community, because they will tell you what the major problems they’re having are. When I approach writing Help documents, I figure out what to say first, and then I try to simplify my points more and more until they’re totally clear. It’s really about anticipating questions that people might have. If I write something out and then imagine a user asking a question about what I wrote, I go back and answer that question ahead of time. If that makes sense.

If we post something to the Help page and start getting questions about it, we go back and edit the Help page to clarify as soon as possible. If you remove points of friction for users, you have less help requests and less questions.

There have been several times when the amount of help requests about a certain feature have helped us to refine that feature to a point where its operation was so clear that the questions stopped coming in. So it’s a two front war. You have to answer people’s questions clearly, but when it becomes apparent that the reason they are asking questions is because your product needs refinement, you need to step in and fix your product.

Question: How can other companies get similar results?
Answer: Companies can get similar results if they hire competent, passionate employees who are tuned in to the website’s user base. A lot of the success of Vimeo relies on the personalities of the people involved, so step 1 is hire good people.

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