Who are our users and what do they want?

A graphic showing why we're designing something new, for who, how and what we will finally design.

The most important thing to know for a website is who is actually visiting it.

When we built CERN’s current website it was mostly students and teachers visiting, looking for resources for projects and teaching tools. Five years on, we didn’t know if things had changed. And so, based on the Audience Report, Everis built a survey to find out who was visiting the website, why they were visiting it, and what they wanted to find on it.

The survey showed that we have six different sorts of people visiting the website, who mostly want CERN’s activities explained to them in an inspiring way.

In the following order these are:

  1. Scientists (which includes members of the CERN community not based at CERN)
  2. University people (this could be professors, or students, and the CERN community)
  3. Citizens (including job seekers, local community and high-school students)
  4. CERN community based at CERN
  5. Decision makers in the science and technology fields
  6. Media/Journalists

For each of these groups, except the media, we’ve built ‘personas’ – profiles that give us an example of the sort of person that fits into that group. These personas will help us to write content targeted at those individual groups, whether they’ve got a lot of scientific knowledge or a little, and what sort of thing they would like to see.

For example, the research showed that the CERN community based at CERN really like visual content over text content, but citizens prefer a mixture of both. So our citizen persona (who we’ve called Lucas) likes pictures, video, and to have science explained to him through interactive content with summary text. But our CERN community persona, Lucy, prefers the website to have lots of 3D images of things at CERN. But, instead of a whole article, to just have links to longer, more complicated, content.

Because of the different but overlapping characteristics of all the groups visiting the website, we’ve decided to move away from the current model of a website that divides content up by audience, and instead focus on putting lots of great content on the site that appeals to lots of different people, and allowing individuals when they visit the site to filter what they want to see based on their preferences.

The new site will have a variety of formats, from articles, to infographics, and FAQs, allowing our visitors to pick what appeals to them most. Hopefully this will be intuitive but that’s the next step of the process. In fact, we’ve already launched a survey to test what we want to use for our navigation and menus on the home site, to see whether or not they’ll work, and we’re hoping to get the results soon.


Read the full report here.


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