We are setting up a new website for UCTL in Drupal. A really cool project, after a month of fiddling, we now think this will do what we want (easy to navigate, easily updated, potential for interaction, sign up sheets, RSS, and fits with the University brand). We have th go ahead to start building the website.
I recalled in 2006 some work one of my students did on Design and using the idea of a persona to help focus and guide the design process.
What is a persona?
The creation and use of fictional users, concrete representations (of potential end users).
From (PDF format) Personas, Participatory Design and Product Development: an Infrastructure for Engagement – Jonathan Grudin & John Pruitt.
This article links the best use of persona’s with scenarios. The following page adds in the idea of storyboards:
Storyboards, Scenarios, Design Personas
I almost always begin design by talking with users. Initially, my goal is simply to collect people’s stories. I believe that the stories people tell about what they do and how they do it contain information vital to designing good interfaces. Stories reveal what people like about their work, what they hate about it, what works well, what sorts of things are real problems.
—Design as Storytelling; Thomas Erickson; Apple Computer, Inc.
Storyboards use little detail to communicate an idea. Developing a persona moving through a scenario helps the design team bridge the contexts of development and use. Patterns of behavior in the context of social settings gain a stake alongside functional requirements and demographic abstraction. And on a simpler level the storyboard is ideal for instructions and illustrating simple interaction. From Design Crux (John Soellner)
And, just for interest: Alan Cooper’s history of personas:
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, published in 1998, introduced the use of personas as a practical interaction design tool. Based on the single-chapter discussion in that book, personas rapidly gained popularity in the software industry due to their unusual power and effectiveness. . . Cooper’s website.
So: we need to come up with a few basic personas: typical users of out website.
Students, staff, new users, browsers, focused help seekers . . .