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WEB HOSTING HOW-TOS

Use Case Design for Websites Part 1
By: Michael Swanson
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    2005-03-02

    Table of Contents:
  • Use Case Design for Websites Part 1
  • Use Cases
  • Usability Design and Web Site Layout
  • Usability Design and Data Organization

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    Use Case Design for Websites Part 1 - Use Cases


    (Page 2 of 4 )

    A short introduction to use-cases is useful to serve as a basis for further explanation.  A use-case is, simply, a detailed, written description of a user’s interaction with a system or application to accomplish one simple task. Generally, use-cases are titled with the name of the action the user is accomplishing. For instance, a use-case title might be something like “User orders a product.” 

    Specifically, the title is usually some sort of active tense statement about what a user is trying to do. From this title, a software engineer or designer writes the series of actions the user must go through to accomplish this task. He or she details the data the user provides to the system, what data the system provides in return, the possible branches the path can take, and any error conditions that might occur along the way.  

    These are useful for design because they focus entirely on how a user interacts with a system, detailing what exactly the system must provide to and receive from a user. These are the things that are important for programmers to focus on, but often they get forgotten in the process of actual programming. Use-cases are also a central aspect of UML design processes.  

    Often, use-cases are used for organizing and programming objects, in Object Oriented programming, but many website programming or scripting languages are not fully object oriented. However, often pages or groups of pages in a website can work together to process a single task, much as an object would in an OO language. This single task will generally map very closely to one or more use-cases. In many ways, this makes use-cases particularly useful for websites, because a website’s main purpose for existence is usually some form of enhanced, streamlined communication. This usually means that websites are, by their very nature, focused on a user doing something and getting some sort of feedback, which is exactly what use-cases are best at describing.

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