Users do not operate in a vacuum. Here is a checklist for understanding the end-user ecology – the environments that influence the way the users interact with the system.
Factors for In-Depth Understanding of User Community and Environments
Inputs: User Task list, User Roles list, User Community Sketch
Identify typical user characteristics of each major user type:
o Age range, gender
o Education level
o Occupation, full or part-time
o Socioeconomic – income/finances, lifestyle
o Cultural/ethnic background, languages spoken and proficiency
o Geographic region, urban/suburban/rural
o Domain knowledge or subject-matter expertise level
o Experience using the current system and/or similar systems
o Formal Training on the system, how much, how long ago
o Objectives for the system – why are they personally using it?
o Technology skill and comfort level
o Overall concerns and attitudes toward the current system or competitors
o Handicap accessibility needs – 508, low vision, color-blindness, assistive technologies
o Prioritize: Which of these user characteristics are most important/influential?
o Ask: Would the clients like to change any of these, to attract different users?
Identify the user environments for the main user tasks
o Interruptions, time spent to return and resume
o Work pattern – several times daily, once a month, once a year, abandon after start
o Gateways to system – from Internet search, desktop icon, bookmarked start page, hyperlink or deep bookmark
o Social context – supervisor approval? information from users outside the system?
o Using at work, home, school, outdoors, leisure, combination?
o Special environments – Classified, low-connectivity, battlefield, in-store
o Access to other external systems – e.g., ability to check personal email
o User control over environment – access restrictions, attitudes
o Prioritize: Which of these environmental characteristics are most important/influential?
With all this information, the following requirements artifacts can be created.
o Annotated User Role description
o Annotated User Task requirements
o Persona representing each major user group – User Profiles or Stereotypes
o User Stories or Storyboards describing how user characteristics affect tasks