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Understanding the User

Define Your User and Their Goals

Here is your chance to spend some time thinking about your audience. Define it in terms of who you need to inform, impress, and persuade with your Web portfolio. Does your audience consist of customers, prospects, parents, students, communities, or groups? Think about the answers to these questions and begin to jot down some rough notes. After some loose brainstorming, tighten the focus a bit and answer the following questions to establish some basic definitions for your user and your goals:

My Web portfolio will promote my:

The goals of this Web portfolio are:

My audience consists of:

My ultimate message to the user is:

The following are my responses to this exercise:

 

My Web portfolio will promote my: design work, publishing projects, academic history, and abilities as a teacher and designer.

 

The goals of this portfolio are: to educate my audience about my accomplishments and abilities and provide and entertaining and fun interactive experience.

 

My audience consists of: students, colleagues, prospective clients, current clients, academic publishers, prospective colleges, schools, and universities. My ultimate message to the user is: I am an expert in communication design, computer graphics, and multimedia development. I am a dedicated teacher, designer, author, and consultant in communication arts. With your audience defined and your initial goals for the user established, we are now ready to move forward and discuss the conceptualization process for developing your Web portfolio. By now, you probably have some ideas swirling in your head. Let’s begin to solidify them by explicitly defining the concept.

 

A concept is a thought, notion, or idea. When you begin to develop your Web portfolio, concept is used to help drive design and ultimately determine appropriate content. Defining the con- cept of the site is the first step in a series of goal-driven decisions. Conceptualization will culminate with the creation of an outline-listing content. Your first exercise in conceptualization is already complete. By completing the conceptualization exercise, you have defined an audience, you know what the portfolio is promoting, and you have a notion about your message and know who you want to persuade.

 

< p class="home_service"> Conceptualizing a Web portfolio starts out like thinking about writing something. When we write, the first steps are to define an audience and then define a purpose. We do this so that the writing has direction. The same steps must be taken with Web portfolios. Defining the audience is something we have addressed. Now we must explicitly define a purpose. The purpose lies in the concept. Let’s polish a loose concept to get it the next level. We will write out, in simple, general terms, the important components of our concept. To do this, let’s put together a concept statement. The concept statement simply explains the concept, the proposed navigation, and the expected assets needed to pursue the project. It acts as a springboard for the brainstorming process and content development.

 

Concepts are supported by content. To be utilized effectively, content must be categorized. That’s where headers and sub- headers for navigation come into play. You should think about the main headers and the sub-headers as the signposts that guide your users through the Web portfolio. It is important to drill down to get the proper sequence of information into the right hierarchical order. Otherwise, you risk losing the user somewhere along the way. Content consists of graphic and multimedia assets and text assets. Graphic and multimedia assets include: static images (photos and clip art), audio, animation, and motion graphics. Text assets include text/word processing items that populate the site, including text-based navigation elements, body copy, and other text-based content pages. Your resume is an example of a text-based asset if it is in the form of Web based html text on a page.

 

If it is in Adobe PDF format, it would be considered a graphic asset because it is formatted into a single file without HTML editing capabilities. A text-based item is also considered a message, something that must be read and understood by the user. A photo is an example of a graphic asset. A text animation is an example of a multimedia asset. Let’s start to get our content recognized and organized. The concept statement will help us move forward and get our content in an order. You should list your proposed main and sub navigation titles in the concept statement under Navigation. Then you will list the major text assets and major graphical and multimedia assets that you will have to prepare for the Web portfolio. The concept statement allows you write out what you expect to publish in your Web portfolio. It is a rough statement of what you will need to get for the project. It provides a scope for you to polish and perfect as the Web portfolio process moves further. A Word about Navigation Headers: Develop the main categories and sub categories of the Web portfolio based on your expected content.

 

These are main and sub-navigation headers. To keep things simple, we identify our main categories of information within the concept statement. These categories will become text or graphical navigation buttons. Each navigation and sub navigation category header will be a page with content. Here is my concept statement starting with navigation items: CONCEPT STATEMENT – John DiMarco//Web Portfolio Concept: develop an interactive Web portfolio that showcases my design and art work, the work of my students and provides a forum for my scholarship and current publishing projects. Navigation about — main navigation CV — sub nav Contact — sub nav portfolio — main navigation print and Web — sub nav motion graphics — sub nav digital art — sub nav e-learning — sub nav design lab — main navigation web design tutorial projects — sub nav student gallery — sub nav links – sub nav Items that I will need to gather or write (I may or may not use all of these): Text Assets

• One paragraph of informational copy for a web design tutorial page

• Main page has current news/topics

• Bio

• Educational philosophy

• Sample syllabi and class materials

• Published work information (details, testimonials, ISBN)

• Links to sites that I found inspirational or valuable Graphic and Multimedia Assets Items that I will need to gather create:

• My professional design and art work

• Student work in print, Web, and illustration

• Splash page -Flash intro with audio

• Home page artwork

• Header artwork (banners) This exercise is aimed to provide a loose framework of potential items to use in your Web portfolio.

 

Don’t worry about getting everything down at this step. This is a starting point for the assembly of the portfolio structure. This may change and we may need to adapt our plan to the dynamics of the project. After this step, you will develop a detailed content list which will list every tangible asset that you must gather, write, or create.

 

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