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

From: Boland Jr, Frederick E. <frederick.boland@nist.gov>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2012 12:04:54 -0400
To: Michael S Elledge <elledge@msu.edu>, "public-wai-evaltf@w3.org" <public-wai-evaltf@w3.org>
CC: Sarah Swierenga <sswieren@msu.edu>
Message-ID: <D7A0423E5E193F40BE6E94126930C4930B96C50EA7@MBCLUSTER.xchange.nist.gov>
Thanks! In addition, I found the following link to a definition for use case:

Best, Tim Boland NIST 

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael S Elledge [mailto:elledge@msu.edu] 
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 11:58 AM
To: public-wai-evaltf@w3.org
Cc: Sarah Swierenga
Subject: Scenarios, Tasks, Use Cases, User Profiles/Personas, etc.

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 audience.

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 16:05:28 UTC

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