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Web Standards


User Experience is the net sum of every interaction a person has with an organization, be it marketing material, a customer service call, or the product or service itself. A user’s impressions are shaped by an organization’s beliefs and practices as much as by the purpose and the value its products hold in their life.

Ease of use and an engaging experience are two of our website goals. Content creation begins with knowing who our audience or users are, and defining what they need.

User needs

‘User needs’ are the needs that prospective residents, students, parents and the UW community have of HFS. These are the users of our website.

Every aspect of our website design and architecture, and every piece of content should meet a valid user need.

People visit our site to help them accomplish a certain task, like apply for housing, or find out how to apply.

Capturing user needs

To create content or applications for our site, you must start with the user need. It’s a simple concept, but is sometimes tricky to put into practice.

All user needs follow the same template.

As a… [who is the user?]

I need to… [what does the user want to do?]

So that… [why does the user want to do this?]

Write from the user’s perspective and in words that your audience would recognize and use.

Here's a good example:

As a [newly admitted student]

I need to [apply for housing]

So that I can [live on campus]

This is a valid user need because it doesn’t suggest a specific solution. We might need to produce a combination of features and content to make sure the user need is met.

Now a bad example:

As a [newly admitted student]

I need to [read a guide about applying for housing]

So that I can [understand my options]

This isn’t a valid user need because it creates a ‘need’ to justify existing content, and suggests a specific solution that may or may not be right.

What the user wants to do

User needs and our website content should be based on actions or tasks.

User needs are things like:

  • applying
  • paying for
  • submitting
  • changing
  • requesting
  • joining

Avoid using:

  • understand
  • know
  • be aware of
  • using (as in a tool or service)

Only use ‘understand,’ or ‘be aware of’ if the user needs to know it to fulfill a certain task. If they don’t need to understand it to take action, it’s not a valid user need.