Methods for defining user groups and user-adjusted information structures
A common problem in the design of information systems is how to structure the information in a way that is most useful to different groups of users. This paper describes some statistical methods for revealing the structure inherent in empirical data elicited from users. It is illustrated by the application of these methods to the design of some web pages giving information about the Universitat de Valencia. Three potential user groups were identified, administrative staff, teaching staff and students. The first analysis demonstrated that users within these three groups assign relatively homogeneous structures, but that the structures assigned by the three groups are not the same, and also, teaching and administrative staff were shown to be relatively similar and different from students. Second, the ideal information structures for each group were identified and validated against the original data. The methods described can be applied to any design situation where there is an existing user population that can be called on to provide data.
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