This is a guest post written by Gladys Cathelain, consultant and instructor in libraries. This is the first post of a series on web interfaces conception.
When as a library or a network of libraries we think about setting up or reworking librarie’s website, we often think in terms of technical features and we neglect the usage.
To have a successful website (re)definition, it is useful to know who we are talking to.
Many tools exist to help you succeed in this way, and the UX (User eXperience) methodology gather many of them: tests, mockups, interviews,…
“The UX is consituted by a vast number of elements and knowledges in marketing, typography, features, naming, overall coherence, response time or browser compatibility” – http://ux-fr.com/experience-utilisateur-definition or in english http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_experience
UX is useful for developpers, graphic designers and content creators.
This article is focusing on one of those UX methodology tools, personas.
A persona is a targeted user that will allow us to fix priorities and guide your interface conception and editorial decisions.
Wikipedia defines personas as fictive persons used in the development of software. We talk about archetypes of different users of your software created to help all the people involved in the interface design to have a precise idea of the final user. Personas are mainly used in a user oriented design and are created with the analysis of the main users.
It is important to adapt the methodology to the context. Some will end up with a dozen personas, other only two or three. In average we build five to six personas. But the number of personas is not really important, what matters is defining each important user category.
For a better understanding about personas, lets take two examples:
“New comer in the town, I want to have some informations about the library. I made an Internet research and found the library website. I discovered the many activities and services offered by the library. I wish to go there and register.”
We can translate this into a persona:
“I visit often the library. Curious, I like to discover new documents, have a look at the selections on the shelves and presentation tables when I come to the library.”
This translates into this persona:
We see from these examples that a persona implies many professions: from technical issues (bandwidth, data safety) and development to graphic design and content writing (opening time, selections). You can create personas even without deep knowledge of all these issues, and without important studies by relying on the knowledge you have about you users.
This work will help you create you library’s website by considering all the persons implied in it, and more over by starting not from standard features and interfaces, but from usages and services.
And it is this what’s makes a documentary portal, your documentary portal.
About the author:
Consultant and tutor, Gladys Cathelain specialized herself in web interfaces design. She guides libraries in the valorisation of their communication tools and web services, by defining with them their interfaces by the usages: obstacles and motivations analysis, appropriation, content priorization, technologies and services update.
After working in libraries, in the citizen Internet domain and for an ILS provider, she created in 2011 an independent structure named Deuzio.