Who are your users?

The primary users of HSDS are people who manage resource directory information systems. Of course, these users are themselves intermediaries, working to meet the needs of other users. So let’s back up to look at the big picture.

We’ve identified four primary types of use that are relevant to this domain. Read more here for full personas and user stories.

  • Seeking help (service users, clients, etc)
  • Providing help (service providers, i.e. anyone helping someone find information about services)
  • Administering data (anyone engaged in working with community resource data and the technical systems that use it)
  • Research (anyone trying to analyze resource data to better understand the allocation of resources in a community).

Obviously, ‘help seekers’ are the ultimate stakeholders, and we should consider our work first and foremost from their perspective. Aside from this premise, we do not prioritize one stakeholder’s needs above another. Through these distinct perspectives, we set the parameters of our research, design, and evaluation. Our format (and the associated tools) should meet all of their needs.  

We believe that the most immediate and urgent objective is to improve the capacities of all kinds of service providers to make effective referrals with accurate information. One of our core hypotheses is that if/when an ‘open system’ meets the needs of the service providers in its community, those service providers will play a critical role in maintaining the accuracy of its information. 

Yet we also recognize that an increasingly common ‘use case’ is an individual searching the web. Surely we want to improve people’s ability to find this information themselves. Of course, even given success in this regard, we assume there still will remain a need for trained referral specialists — especially for complex situations in which people have complicated needs, etc.

Finally, when it comes to actually adopting and using open data standards and platforms, we recognize that the primary type of use for our data standards is data administration. In other words, our format and tools must be readily usable by anyone who updates this information and manages the technology that stores and delivers it to anyone who might benefit from it. 

Posted in: Overview, Strategic Questions