Welcome to 2014! You might have noticed that we’ve kicked off the new year by doing a little redecorating. We’ve got a more visually appealing design for both UserCentered and the UserConf brand itself. We all loved the kid but now that we’re looking forward to our 4th UserConf in Chicago this May 2nd it was time for the kid to grow up.

But it’s not just all visual polish. There are a couple of other additions to this site:

  1. We’ve opened up the previously private UserCentered forum. You still need to create an account to post but now you can read threads without having to first be approved for an account. There’s already a good core group of contributors and we think this is an important step towards making this content more available and attracting even more quality contributions.
  2. We’ve posted ALL the talks from EVERY UserConf.
  3. We’ve added job and event listings (look to your right). Have a relevant job or event you think should be listed? Click the links to submit them and if we’ll agree we’ll post them on the site.

We’re also going to do something a little different for this upcoming UserConf: a call for speakers. We’ve already lined up a number of amazing speakers (which we’ll announce soon) but since we have such a vibrant community we’d like to give everyone an opportunity to get up on stage and share your genius with the other attendees. We’re specifically looking for people who have some experience with topics that we really want to focus on at UserConf Chicago:

  • How does support get a seat the the product (roadmap) table
  • How do you balance feedback from users (large & small) vs your own team (sales & support)
  • What are cool product or process “hacks” you’ve used to scale support, improve satisfaction, get better feedback, etc.

What makes a good “hack”? Well here are a couple examples:

  • How we at UserVoice modified our satisfaction surveys to more than triple positive tweets about our product
  • How another company greatly changed the tone of their support emails by switching from calling their agents “support” to “success coaches”
  • Or how another company came up with a clever way to get people to read the FAQ *before* picking up the phone

Don’t feel like you have 20 minutes of content for one of these topics? No worries, one other “innovation” for UserConf Chicago is the addition of shorter, sub-10 minute lightning talks.

Deadline for speaking submissions is Feb 17th which neatly coincides with the last day to get your early bird tickets*.

Apply to speak at UserConf Chicago here: http://uservoice.wufoo.com/forms/userconf-speaker-application-page/

Thanks and Happy New Year!

Richard White
CEO UserVoice

* You may recall at the last UserConf that we mentioned we’d be moving away from time-based pricing changes in favor of quantity changes. Due to some technical difficulties we’re going to stick with time-based for UserConf Chicago.

Mic photo courtesy of Ed Schipul