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Users' Goals


Once you've got a statement of purpose you're halfway to being ready to design.

The next step is to understand who'll be looking at the page, and why.

The best-designed web sites are sensitive to the needs of the users.

They're designed to anticipate what real people are trying to achieve, and then to help them do it with the minimum fuss.

No-one uses the web for the fun of it

Every web site is a means to an end. We're all looking to get something out of it, to achieve certain personal goals (states of being).

Common daily goals for me include:

Note that none of these goals mentions 'using software', but they all happen to involve interacting with software in order to achieve them:

Using any tool is a means to an end. Understanding the ends that your visitors are wanting to reach gives you insight into what will help them have a more satisfying, successful experience (and achieve the site's goals for you).

Using software is a means to an end. Interaction design guru Alan Cooper wrote an illuminating book all about software and goals, in which he describes his goal-oriented approach to software design. I recommend everyone who's involved in designing software to read "The Inmates are Running the Asylum".

Why will people use your web site?

Without actually meeting a representative number of your actual web site visitors, you can't know their goals for real. Because this is usually very unlikely, you need another technique.

First, note down the different major groups of users, those who may use your site in different ways. For example, you might have returning customers, prospective customers, employees, and suppliers.

Write down each group's typical goals. The goals should be broad enough to be typical of all visitors across the group Try to cover the full range of different needs and usage patterns.


For each type of user, follow the simple steps below to develop a persona who will represent each user group in your design process.

A persona is an imaginary real person who helps give your design process focus. They're handy archetypes, based on everything you can find out about the real types of people who'll use your site. To help make them believable, you'll furnish them with their own realistic likes and dislikes, their own personal agendas, and most importantly their own personal goals.

(The process described here is primarily based on the goal-oriented design process created by Alan Cooper at Cooper Interaction Design. For further insight into using goal-oriented design for all kinds of applications, please read "About Face 2.0".

Creating personas

You should base your personas' characteristics as much as possible on facts you know about your target market or actual user base. The best way to do this is to carry out prior research to interview a number of actual or typical site users.

Personas are more effective when they represent the likely preferences, goals, and contexts that your real users will have. Ideally, you should speak to people who fit the target audience right now, who are in the right position or have the right experience.

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