User-Centered Design as it Pertains to Online Reference Systems

John Dove


This poster presents models of, and approaches to, user-centered design of online-reference systems (encyclopedias, dictionaries, and their aggregations).   This is based not only on approaches used by Credo’s product development team, but also on specific interviews of key staff at other online reference companies such as Tom Bayer at iFactory (who has built award-winning reference platforms for Sage, Oxford University Press, Harvard University Press, and others), and Erin McKean at ReVerb (who has built the largest online English dictionary).   Approaches that model user behavior such as personas, audience analysis, and a specific model related to reference (the modes of reference) will be featured.

The focus of this poster is on the earliest stages of product design, the point at which you are deciding who your users are and what needs of theirs you are going trying to solve. Getting a complete picture of potential users, understanding their goals and objectives, and appreciating the context in which they will experience your new product or application is essential.  This includes an understanding of the economics of their access to the product, the other players in their world who may play an important role in the purchase and set-up of the product, and even a sense of the emotional connection you are hoping to create with your users.

Keywords: reference, user-centered design, user models, product development, user experience



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