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8.3. Scenarios

While architecture blueprints are excellent tools for capturing an approach to information organization in a detailed and structured way, they do not tend to excite people. As an architect who wants to convince your colleagues of the wisdom of your approach, you need to help them envision the site as you see it in your mind's eye. Scenarios are great tools for helping people to understand how the user will navigate and experience the site you design. They will also help you think through the experience your site will provide and may generate new ideas for the architecture and navigation system.

To provide a multidimensional experience that shows the true potential for the site, it is best to write a few scenarios that show how people with different needs and behaviors would navigate your site. Before beginning the scenario, you should think about the primary intended audiences. Who are the people that will use your site? Why and how will they want to use it? Will they be in a rush or will they want to explore? Try to select three or four major user types who will use the site in very different ways. Create a character who represents each type. Give them a name, a profession, and a reason for visiting your site, as demonstrated in the sidebar. Then, begin to flesh out a sample session in which that person uses your site. Try to highlight the best features of the site through your scenario. If you've designed for a new customization feature, show how someone would use it.

This is a great opportunity to be creative. You'll probably find these scenarios to be easy and fun to write. Hopefully, they'll help convince your colleagues to invest in your ideas.

Sample Scenario

Rosalind, a tenth grader in San Francisco, regularly visits the LiveFun Web site because she enjoys the interactive learning experience. She uses the site in both investigative mode and serendipity mode .

For example, when her anatomy class was studying skeletal structure, she used the investigative mode to search for resources about the skeleton. She found the interactive human skeleton that let her test her knowledge of the correct names and functions of each bone. She bookmarked this page so she could return for a refresher the night before final exams.

When she's done with homework, Rosalind sometimes surfs through the site in serendipity mode. Her interest in poisonous snakes led her to articles about how certain types of venom affect the human nervous system. One of these articles led her into an interactive game that taught her about other chemicals (such as alcohol) that are able to cross the blood-brain barrier. This game piqued her interest in chemistry and she switched into investigative mode to learn more.

This simple scenario shows why and how users may employ both searching and browsing within the web site. More complex scenarios can be used to flesh out the possible needs of users from multiple audiences.

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