Defining the User's Goals

A good starting point here is to look at your organization's Mission Statement. Because, after all, this effort should, in some way, support the ultimate goals of your organzation. After selecting a number ways in which this can be done with new media, as such, do you see anything that might allow you to make adjustments to your original mission? At this point, you might begin to see the possibilities.

Establishing some short-range goals for your website would be the obvious next step. After you have established some longer-range goals, you should develop a plan to measure the success of these intentions. One method might be to rate a number of issues within such areas as Business Development, Customer Service, Cost Effectiveness, and the like. Accumulating all of this information will give you a better picture of the issues and performance of your website at both the planning stages as well as allowing you a method for regular assessments of progress and new opportunities.

Part of the effort here is to gain a wider vision. In the design process, if the builders are too narrowly focused, chances are that some things will appear obscure to all but the uninitiated. By involving member's of the site's intended audience, a method of "participatory design" can be employed. Throughout the process, demographic, interview, and even observational techniques can be used in order to create the best possible solutions to the issues raised above and elsewhere.

Jakob Nielsen of Sun Microsystems has addressed some of these heuristic issues at his site examining the usability of a site called Use It. Try User Interface Engineering as well as UsableWeb for other sites dealing with usability resources. These guidelines can be used with some of the issues brought out above as a part of user testing.

Some other issues in this process can be found at the following sites: