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Scenarios, Tasks, Use Cases, User Profiles/Personas, etc.

From: Michael S Elledge <elledge@msu.edu>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2012 11:58:00 -0400
Message-ID: <4F845888.5010709@msu.edu>
To: "public-wai-evaltf@w3.org" <public-wai-evaltf@w3.org>
CC: Sarah Swierenga <sswieren@msu.edu>
Hi Everyone--

Eric asked me at last week's meeting to put together a definition of 
what we call scenarios and how they fit in our usability evaluation 
process, since there are parallels to what the task force is describing 
for methodology.

Some background first. In a usability test, we ask people, one at a 
time, to find specific information that is contained on a website. 
Finding each piece of information is called a task (there may be 8-10 
tasks in a usability test) and requires a participant to proceed through 
a number of steps in the website. We observe the person to identify if 
they have been successful finding the information, how long it takes, 
the path they take to find the information and any errors they make 
along the way. Either at the end of each task or at the conclusion of 
all the tasks, we ask about their experience with respect to navigation, 
labeling, comprehension and satisfaction. This information is then used 
to make suggestions of how to improve the website we are testing.

These are the elements of the process and our definitions.

User Profile--This is the type of person we want to include in testing 
and is used for recruiting participants. It will have information about 
age, gender, experience using the website and the Internet in general, 
and other criteria that define them as one part of the website's target 

Persona--Personas in our experience are more complete representations of 
the website's target audience, including their attitudes, experiences, 
objectives in using the website, specific tasks they want to accomplish, 
as well as the demographic elements in a user profile. There will be 
multiple personas for each site. Personas are often used to help website 
designers and developers have a shared understanding of what people want 
to do with the website so the navigation, labeling, and aesthetics will 
meet their needs.

Use Case--A use case would be a description of what a particular person 
wants to accomplish on a website in a particular situation. It's analog 
in user testing is a scenario plus a related task.

Scenario--We use a scenario to set the context for a usability test. It 
describes the situation for a participant and sets the stage for 
subsequent tasks. For example, if we were evaluating the Metropolitan 
Transportation Authority website: "You are traveling from Manhattan to 
Westchester County to visit family. Your family lives in New Rochelle."

Task--Tasks are the specific activities that we want participants to 
attempt. They follow the scenario. There may be 3-5 for each scenario. 
So an example might be: "You are leaving on a Friday and returning 
Sunday. Find the times available for you to travel."

I help this is helpful. Other people on the list may have somewhat 
different definitions depending on their design and development process.


Michael S. Elledge
Associate Director
Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting
Michigan State University
Kellogg Center
219 S. Harrison Rd Room 93
East Lansing, MI  48824
Received on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 15:58:33 UTC

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