GEOG 583
Geospatial System Analysis and Design

Reading Assignment

Reading Assignment

For this week, I'd like you to read two pieces on the needs assessment approaches I have focused on for this lesson. The first paper covers the scenario-based design approach. It goes into fairly deep detail on how scenario-based design should play out. The second paper focuses on personas, how they are developed and why they are useful, and then provides a case study example of their application to the design of an online atlas.

For these and other papers that we read, remember, scientists/scholars are people, too, so you're getting a particular viewpoint here that you can safely assume is not always agreed upon by everyone. So, some of the things I will have you read will take a stance on an issue and defend that stance. As you read the two papers (and others during the term), read “critically,” thus consider the authors’ stance and arguments for it; papers that take a stance often spark useful class discussion.


  • Scenario-Based Design by Mary Beth Rosson and John M. Carroll (available in Canvas)
  • Mapping Personas: Designing UX Relationships for an Online Coastal Atlas by Guiseppe Getto and Christina Moore  (available via the Penn State Library or in Canvas)

Think About

While you're reading, I'd like you to consider the advantages of scenario based design and persona mapping and/or create a mash up of how you both can be used together to identify and respond to a design or analysis need in your organization, an application that is relevant to you, or in your term project. What resources (financial and/or personnel) might be required to implement processes that apply the ideas? In what situations might you need to scale things back and do something that builds from the basic principles described but that does not take as much time and effort?


The first paper makes a systematic argument for scenario-based design as a strategy to use in developing or refining technology and provides considerable detail on the process. The second paper argues for (and demonstrates) the idea of personas for application in user experience (UX) design. This pair of papers prompts multiple key questions: How are the ideas of scenario-based design and personas in UX design similar and different? Can/should they be used together? How much detail in scenarios and/or personas is too much? Could a detailed scenario and/or a persona potentially get in the way of fulfilling design goals?

To get credit for this assignment, you must post at least one original comment and respond to at least one comment by your fellow students. It is not necessary (or expected) that you respond to all of the questions posed above and it is OK to direct more of your attention to ideas from one of the papers if the ideas in that paper are particularly intriguing to you (or you have serious critiques of the author’s approach). I encourage you to include links to other content (e.g., papers or reports, videos, blogs, etc.) that bolsters your arguments.

Joining the Discussion

The Lesson 2 Reading Discussion should be completed in Canvas.