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I'm sure I'll be called, as a UX designer, to give a total-usability-makeover to a website or two. Wanting to include in my portfolio a demonstration of my preparedness for this, I simply Googled "Worst websites" and took my pick from a list of the "top 25" to redesign. Someone on the forum had mentioned that for personal portfolio projects it would be okay to assume the specs or pain points to address for a website or product in question if unable to contact users. If anyone's interested, here's the website,brace yourself: http://www.jamilin.com.

I'm pretty sure there's no way I'd be able to reach out to the regular visitors (if any) of this website to interview or invite to participate in a/b testings, surveys, etc., basically gather data/specs/reqs. and even if it was possible I'm sure it would be more time consuming than worthwhile for this purpose. The best I can do is recall all middle-aged, free spirited, flower children men and women hipster friends of mine, and/or anyone I know who I suspect to have New Agey interests and derive persona profiles from them. But having a look at this website, I'm pretty certain my ideal version of the redesigned website would appease the offended audience, though I know it's a kind of cardinal sin in UX to project one's own design ideals onto what should be user or client generated requirements.

What's the best thing to do in this situation? or at the very least, what's okay to do? Is it acceptable, in this case, to assume solutions?

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You could start by checking whether the desired website has google analytics active
(there are a bunch of browser plugins for this, but you could just as easily right-click the page 'view page source' and ctr-f for 'analytics' or 'GTM')
if so, you could contact the admin/owner and explain your are willing to give a free UX analysis / tips in exchange for view only rights to their google analytics data.

After receiving access; within google analytics under 'audience' there are basic demographics (like age and sex) but there is also data on 'interests', 'affinity categories', 'in-market segments' and 'other categories'. You could use these data to create your persona profiles.
Hope this helps!

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    Certainly helps Steven! I’ve also designed a session in which I invite people at the cafe or Starbucks I frequent to go to the website and perform a number of things to complete on the website from a list of tasks I’ve put together, while I sit back and take notes and give a short survey afterwards.. all in exchange for a free coffee or drink on me! It’s been enjoyable thus far, but anytime I myself explore the website.. it’s draining to the soul to even think of taking an inventory of the many redundant pages on it. This UX stuff is for a noble cause! Thanks again for your input! – user112471 Aug 10 at 1:06

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