Why do you search the internet?
Maybe you’re looking for information, knowledge, news of the day. Maybe you have a goal in mind and need to find a specific answer to a question. For those who visit our UTC website, it could be to find out admissions requirements, program information in a specific college or where to pay a parking fine.
When we begin to consider who visits our website and why, the volume of people and reasons can become daunting. Between Jan. 1, 2018, and today, we’ve had 3,767,325 visits to the UTC.edu website homepage alone according to our Siteimprove analytics. That’s right—almost 4 million visits. And what brings them?
We have a story to tell. A compelling story engages an audience. In The Skill Every Leader Needs: Storytelling by Katya Anderson, the author discusses the power of storytelling to inform, influence, enlighten or entertain. What story does our website convey?
Does the UTC website convey our vision, mission and values? Do we tell a compelling story that leads a visitor to find what they are looking for quickly, or do we unintentionally lead the visitor astray? How do we provide just the right amount of content – never too much or too little?
As part of our preparation to move to Drupal, the web team has written a series of short stories or, as we call them, user profiles or personas, to put a ‘face’ or ‘voice’ to the pages we create. User personas, much like rich case studies, describe the archetypal user of the planned website (not of the current website, but the future state).
A persona allows developers to connect with the audience the website is built to attract. For UTC, we look at the four main user audiences of the website: students (including their parents), employees (faculty, staff and administration), stakeholders and the broader general public.
All profiles begin with a bit of demographic information. Here is an excerpt about our high school junior, Donna, who comes to the website for admissions information…
Next we learn about Donna’s personal story and why she might be visiting the UTC website.
Following her motivations, we also discover her challenges and where else she might be searching for information.
Finally we look at her frustrations with searching any university website.
The personas allow the web team to think about how the pages are used. The personas paint a picture of our student and how she might search for information on the website. Hopefully, we can tell a powerful, engaging story that leads to the ultimate happy ending.