Conference: International Business Conference 2015, At Zambesi Sun Hotel, Livingstone, Zambia
The application area of the study was on government services; however, the results have implications for industry and academia. The focus of the study was on users in rural areas in the Western Cape visiting Cape Access e-centres. Cape Access is a programme that provides access to information and communication technologies to less privileged and rural communities across the Western Cape. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 72 rural area participants at nine e-centres across the Western Cape. Workshops were conducted with 90 Cape Access staff members.
Results provided insights into user demographics and user needs. These results informed the development of personas, which can be used to represent the user when developing digital services. The paper also demonstrates how personas can be used to drive user-centred design. The recommendations have implications for government officials, businesses with rural area users as their target market, information technologists, website designers and user experience professionals.
Conference: 16th European Conference on e-Government, At Ljubljana, Slovenia
The lack of citizen inclusion is found to be key in inhibiting e-Government initiatives. Users are often not involved in the process of designing a service and this results in users’ important needs not completely being met. A deep understanding of the users’ needs is crucial for building a successful digital service. It has become increasingly common, perhaps even required, for organisations to include user research as the foundation to the design and development process. User research can be used to understand how people live their lives, in order to more effectively respond to user needs with informed and inspired design solutions. A digital service must meet the user needs, and one way to understand those needs is through the creation of personas. The personas method has become a useful tool in mapping out the diverse users who may interact with a human-centred system and promotes a more holistic understanding of the users involved. The research question of this study was: Which personas represent users of the Western Cape Government Portal? Personas are a conduit for information about users and work settings derived from user research, such as ethnographical studies, usability studies, focus groups, interviews and observations. The focus of this paper is on user research conducted in the Western Cape in order to develop personas (typical user profiles) to inform the development of the new Western Cape Government (WCG) Portal. User research methods included surveys, focus groups and interviews. A total of 72 rural area users and 90 Cape Access staff members participated in focus groups and interviews at Cape Access e-Centres. Interviews were conducted with blind citizens, in order to understand accessibility needs. Additionally, two surveys (1275 and 344 participants respectively) were conducted with users of the website. Results provided insights into user demographics and user needs. These results informed the development of personas, which were used to represent the user when developing the new WCG Portal. In addition, South Africa is a developing country with users who are from multi-cultural backgrounds with a large portion of the population being computer illiterate. The personas developed include personas from rural areas with none to limited e-skills and urban areas with limited to high e- skills. The paper also demonstrates the value of personas to drive user-centred design throughout the development processes. E-Government teams need to include user experience professionals to conduct user research and drive user-centred design. The recommendations have implications for government officials, website designers and user experience professionals.