Instead of designing products and services that dictate consumers’ behavior, let the tasks people are trying to get done inform your design.
|--Clayton M. Christensen|
Understanding how people use your information is the starting point for defining an effective information architecture for your organization. With that understanding, you can approach your architectural framework knowing that the information is explicitly designed to meet the users’ needs. Without that understanding, you are more likely to develop an architecture that meets the needs of your authors or your subject-matter experts rather than those who need to use your products and services to meet their goals and get their jobs done.
As you work to understand your users and their information-using agendas, you build a set of user profiles and user scenarios. User profiles describe the key characteristics of members of your user community. User scenarios describe how the members use your information to get their jobs done, from following step-by-step instructions to performing tasks to reading about how your products are designed to work, how to diagnose and fix problems they encounter, and where to find data that they need in support of their task performance.
A typical user profile may look like this one: