“We design for end-users and we (developers) are not the end-users” – this was a quote I once read in a software development book. In designing student information systems and related systems, the customer perspectives, which include students, staff/faculty, and parents cannot be ignored. This concept may sound simple and naive but within the realities of a bureaucratic campus, it’s very easy for staff, including myself, to forget the end-users of the systems. Politics, financial constraints, mandates, siloed thinking, and personal motivations of those involved in the process impact the decisions driving the project and derail from the purpose of the systems. The customer perspective is different from campus providers. While the campus may be divided into organizational hierarchies and divisions for bureaucratic reasons, customers may not necessarily view their college experience based on how the campus is organized. Websites generally reflect the structure of the campus bureaucracy. Lack of coordination, conflicting priorities and misunderstood policies can lead to disjointed systems, inconsistent user interfaces, and isolated/duplicate data.
Keeping the customer perspective and needs in mind, thinking holistically, and designing systems to minimize/eliminate pain points at the “moments of truth” when customers interact with the system, are considerations included in the diagram below. Click on the image to view the full size version.