Mass Comm Week goes techie with BigTuna Interactive

Adam Hermsdorfer of Big Tuna Interactive speaks with students and faculty after his panel. Photo credit: Elizabeth O. Sanders
Adam Hermsdorfer of BigTuna Interactive speaks with students and faculty after his panel. Photo by Elizabeth O. Sanders

By Elizabeth O. Sanders

Mass Comm Week encouraged the expansion of technology-embraced communication with guest speaker Adam Hermsdorfer, founder of BigTuna Interactive, with his talk, “Website Optimization.”

BigTuna Interactive, originally based in San Diego, has opened a location in Austin on Congress Avenue. The company is dedicated to “taking websites and making them better,” Hermsdorfer said. The company mostly works in Drupal (content-management framework) development and optimizations. The company started out doing websites for professional athletes and surfers and expanded to doing businesses.

“What works one day isn’t guaranteed to work the next,” Hermsdorfer said, relating to fast-paced, ever-changing world of working with the web.

What website optimization does is eliminate guesswork, Hermsdorfer said. It allows you to test a sliver of the market with a sliver of the budget. This allows you to recognize either successes or failures faster and reduces the need of website redesigns, which can be costly and time consuming.

He also explained a few key tools developers can use to boost usability for websites.

Three resources he lists for “qualitative research tools” are Silverback, Skype, and Silverback records users’ interaction with a website and video records their facial expression to test how the users respond to the website. A similar test can be done using Skype. allows you to submit a task list and receive back tester feedback.

Examples of “quantitative research tools” include Crazy Egg which uses heat tracking to trace where the cursor has been to help determine where the user’s line of vision might have been directed. Another tool, Optimizely, lets developers test one version of a page versus another, showing which page more users favored.

Hermsdorfer ended with some tips on what to do next if you’re looking to start optimizing websites: start your own site and learn code, hook up Google Analytics, learn about Optimizely, keep up with your reading, signup for LinkedIn, and optimize and prophesize.

More information about Big Tuna Interactive can be found at its  company website.

Elizabeth O. Sanders is a senior at Texas State University. She graduates in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in journalism. More information about her is on her website:

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