User Scenarios for KM 2.0

As part of the planning for the new open source content management system the Forum and our partners will be developing (aka Project Booted Eagle!), we’ve developed a number of user scenarios. These scenarios represent the multitude of ways that users and system admins will use the platform and its Web sites to accomplish tasks critical to delivering their organizations’ missions.

Ultimately, we are attempting to address a few questions with these scenarios: 1) What do users want to be able to do on a member Web site? What do we as organizations want them to be able to do? What happens when they do it? And, the big one, what value is presented to the user?

So I ask you, do these user stories ring true? Have we missed anything? Please add your own user scenarios for your own Web sites. While there will be a great deal of overlap between the behavior of Forum Web site users and your own, each regional offers unique services and experiences for their members and we want to be sure to capture them all as we inventory the needed functionality of the new system.

Regional Association Staff

Amanda is a CEO of a regional association and has been in her job less than one year. She is very eager to provide as many services and as much information as possible to her members. She relies heavily on the Forum to help her with her job. When she would like her site to be a collaborative environment where she can share new ideas, information on programs, speaker recommendations, sample documents, and more with her members. She wants to use the platform to learn more about what other RAs are doing and to get updated program and event information from her fellow RAS, which she currently can’t often find.

Amy is in her 30s and has worked at an RA for several years. She is somewhat tech savvy and works on her organization’s Web site. While she’s familiar with content management systems for posting articles and links, she gets confused by more technical tasks. She often gives up when looking for things and gets frustrated when she has to look at several options for completing similar tasks. She is eagerly awaiting the new platform and has high expectations.

Ralph is in his 40s and has been a staff member at a small regional for several years, and knows how to navigate the current system. He’s kind of “old school” and doesn’t like change, so it will take time for him to learn and appreciate the new system. While searching for things he often finds old documents that need to be updated, and he contacts staff to let them know. He will be critical until he sees that information is being updated regularly.

JoAnn is 35 years old and is a junior executive at a large regional association. She’s based and lives in the South, but needs to keep a wide focus since her membership spans many states with significant cultural and geographic variances (urban/rural, state to state, along with varied foundations). She likes finding her information quickly and on demand. She’s very focused on not duplicating work so she adapts as many things as possible for her use and to supplement the services she provides her members. If she can’t find what she’s looking for, she’s more than happy to look elsewhere quickly or pick up the phone to call someone.

Suman, 26, is a program associate at an RA and is fairly web savvy. She has a lot of patience to find what she’s looking for, but not a whole lot of self-determination in what she looks for. That being said, her boss (the executive director) is not very web savvy and Internet research is far from the first thing on her to do list. As such, she hands a lot of research questions off to Suman. Those questions range from: “How do other RAs work with ethnic funds?” or “I need notes from this board meeting that happened several months ago,” or “What are RAs doing to recruit operating foundations as members?” or “What’s the mission of the Kauffman foundation?” Despite the varied nature of the requests, Suman needs to provide complete answers to her boss’ satisfaction or explain why she cannot locate an answer. Her familiarity with the system may be self-taught, but she’s looked to understand it the better than anyone in her office.

Emily is the member services coordinator for a large regional association. A single member organization has been repeatedly asking for programming from the RA around the topic of aging. Emily comes to the Forum site to find out what programming other regional associations have done in this area that she might use as models. Are there sample materials available? How much did the program cost? Were there any speakers the network would recommend? She also wants to know who in the Forum network she can talk to who might be an expert in this program area.

Joe is a member services manager at a small regional. He is looking for best practices around member retention. He remembers a listserve discussion on the topic from last fall but can’t find any record of it in his email archive. He wonders if the best practices used in the network have been distilled into a report or document that he could adapt for his own purposes.

Steve is a high level communications director at a regional association and he doesn’t like to waste a lot of time on the web. He wants to follow the topics that are important to him and ignore the rest. He wants a single page that shows him information on the topics he’s interested in to make sure he doesn’t miss anything that’s happening in other parts of the network. For him, there is nothing worse than having to check 35 different web sites to find out what everyone is doing in his job area.

Javier is the program director at a regional association with two staff members. His executive director has recently read a report on how to run grantmaker education programming with limited resources that she wants Jose to share with similar-sized regionals. Jose wants to post the report to a shared space where system administrators of other RA sites can choose to add the report to their site if they feel it is appropriate. Jose will also be sharing the report through his organization’s blog and social media channels.

Sophia is a mid-career regional association staff member who works on public policy. She wants to be more involved in the policy efforts going on throughout the network. She regularly uses the Forum site for research but would also like to connect with peers who have similar interest. She wants to find project descriptions for public policy programs that are taking place nationally or programs at other regionals to which she can lend her expertise. These descriptions should tell her how she can get involved, what she can do next, and who else is working on the project.

Forum Staff

Bart works at the Forum and is charged with keeping content fresh and valuable to the Forum and it’s member’s members. He uses the system to see trends across the network, emerging hot topic areas, and reports them through the Forum’s Web site. A big part of his job is connecting people to information, whether that’s informing RAs about national trends, or directing grantmakers to their local regional association. He needs to be able to make information easily available to multiple member sub-sites so it can be accessed by their members should a regional choose to offer it. He also keeps track of analytics across the network to help with benchmarking and network-wide web strategy.

Leo is a super-user system-wide administrator. It is his responsibility to guide regionals through the conceptualization and development of their sites and manage the overall administration and customization of the system. He needs to access a library of components and metadata to help regional associations understand and embrace the capabilities of the system. He is an assembler of sites, using modules like lego blocks to create a fulfilling and efficient experience for end users and system admins throughout the network.

Foundation Staff

Susan is 61 and works at a medium-sized family foundation. She supports the foundation president, who is very busy and doesn’t have time to keep up on changes in the field. He relies on Susan to give him relevant information and register him for pertinent events and programs. Susan learns about resources through her regional association’s newsletter, and visits the Forum Web site to learn more about programs in which her boss would be interested. She doesn’t go back to the site on her own because she doesn’t find any additional helpful information when she visits; she just focuses on the new publication or program. She’s not very Web savvy so she’s not good at digging deeper into a site unless it is obvious how to do so. If there was more information and cross-promotion, she might consider visiting more often.

Leslie is executive director a of small community foundation. She is 56 and her background has been serving her small region or most of her career. Leslie is very forward looking but constrained by the time, energy and multi-tasking it takes to run a small community foundation. That being said, rural philanthropy is a big part of her job and she’s worked with the Forum in the past on this issue. She’s also involved in many networks of rural philanthropy professionals. Her biggest interest is getting the community more engaged in the foundation, even if it means taking some extra time for every dollar that gets raised. Her regional association referred her to us.

Katarina a foundation Program Officer comes to the Forum site and sees that the network possesses a vast repository of knowledge that could help her do her job better and more easily. She is directed to her local regional association and told how her organization can become a member.

Philanthropy Infrastructure Partners

John is a 27-year old program director at another infrastructure organization. He monitors the Forum’s Web site to look for partnership opportunities, and to make sure that his organization is not falling behind on a topic. He links to our site when appropriate. He also uses it to benchmark his organization’s benefits, services, and programs with the Forum. Sometimes he needs some of our research so he searches our site often, but has a hard time finding things. He lives on his Blackberry.

Cathy is a staff member at a collegue infrastructure organization. She comes to the Forum’s site to find out what are the hot topics in philanthropy. When she searches for resources on a topic, she can see a number of free documents and even more protected documents in the collective Knowledgebase. In order to access the private document, she will have to contact the Forum or a member regional association directly.

Nonprofit Employee

Tom is a nonprofit professional and a community activist. He’s white, in his 40’s and has decided that he wants to implement and organize a giving circle to fund innovative programs in his city, Cleveland. He’s very ambitious and knows a thing or two about the nonprofit sector. He’s comfortable with research and learning, but is really a learn-as-he-goes-type person. He’s lucky to have a significant network of people already interested in the project and he wants to make sure he’s building the best type of organization he can and is always looking for new ways to help generate excitement amongst his group.


Jennifer is a freelance writer who likes to pitch stories that make her feel good.She writes for several women’s magazines and periodicals for retired persons; she’s also edited a few books. Jennifer is always on the lookout for a story that she finds inspiring and she feels would resonate with several of her clients, that way she can pitch it to more than one. She also receives plenty of assignments on subject matter that she’s not overly familiar with. She uses blogs and social media to find stories that might interest her.Danielle is a publications director at a colleague infrastructure partner. Her organization regular releases new research reports and white papers and she looks to the Forum network to help distribute this content to regional associations and their grantmaker members.


7 responses to “User Scenarios for KM 2.0

  1. So, I see only a couple of scenarios above that address use by our members—much of this seems to be focused on the Forum’s website, rather than the regional’s web sites. Am I misunderstanding that the “building blocks” for the open source system would also impact how the regional sites would look? I think much of what’s outlined above can be translated to the regionals, but I think it would be helpful to talk/blog about the platform more from a regional association perspective as well.

  2. Hi, Dawn. You’re absolutely right and that’s where you come in. With this post, I’m trying start the conversation about how your own members use and will use your site in the future. You know them far better than I do and I’m sure there are some very particular scenarios out there that apply solely to your regionals site. What are they? That’s what I want to know. That way, we can incorporate them into the overall vision for this platform.

  3. In addition to grantmaking Members, Donors Forum (Illinois) also has a constituent category for advisors to grantmakers, and one for nonprofit staff and trustees. A sample scenario for our nonprofit constituency might look something like:
    Engelbert is a 35-year old development director at a nonprofit that provides services to the homeless. He belongs to a regional association as part of constituency group that consists of nonprofit staff and board. He has a master’s degree in journalism, but decided a few years ago that he “wants to make a difference” in a more hands-on way.

    He is interested in attending fee-for-service workshops that the regional offers. (The workshops are open to the public, but because he belongs to the regional, he gets a discount). He is interested in his state’s budget and the federal budget, and needs capacity building resources on prospect research, proposal writing, building relationships with current and prospective funders. In his next career move, he envisions himself as Executive Director of a small nonprofit, where his needs will likely expand to a wider set of resources: on governance, leadership, budgeting, nonprofit sustainability, and public policy.

  4. Some of the user scenarios we encounter at Philanthropy New York are:
    — Members wanting to register themselves or colleagues for multiple programs at once after viewing our monthly calendar of events.

    — Program staff who don’t have time to dig around the site and want to be able to personalize the site to their interest areas and preview content when navigating.

    — Program staff who actively connected to other philanthropic organizations or publications through social media tools and want to see that integration on our site.

    — Members who can’t attend programs but want to participate via live web streaming.

    — Members who travel extensively for work and want to be able to visit our site and register for programs through their mobile devices.

    — Members who serve on committees, working groups, and task forces and want to access a shared workspace through our website (i.e., one login for all their interactions with Philanthropy New York). Similarly, they want to be able post content to the shared workspace that can be viewed only by other members of their committee OR post it to be shared publicly on Philanthropy New York’s site.

    — Members who participate in one of our professional peer networks want to exchange knowledge through a private listserv and be able to search an archive of listserv conversations through a restricted section on our website.

    — Administrative and senior executive members who want to find survey results and sample resources on our site so they can benchmark their administrative practices against similarly sized foundations.

    — Members and nonprofit organizations who are interested in reserving our conference room want to take virtual tours of our conference facilities so they can see what kind of room set-up they’d like before reserving the space.

    — Members want to update their profile through our website and include their areas of expertise so we can invite them to be speakers at programs or send media requests their way.

    — Job seekers who want to do more specific searching of our jobs board (i.e., position type, type of foundation, salary range) and members who want to post job openings on our jobs board using their member login credentials.

  5. These are great! Thanks Marilou and Kristen. Keep ’em coming everyone.

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