User persona for advanced content creator

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As the Curriculum and training group has identified while outlining the various skill sets involved in site creation & use, there's an under-represented skillset in the site creation process: that of the "Advanced content creator". This person has unique requirements, and to describe the requirements, it's first helpful to describe the person / persona. I hope this will be useful not only to the Curriculum & training group, but to other Drupal initiatives related to the Drupal needs of this type of user that is (already, if not increasingly) frequently present at sites deploying Drupal. (Thus the cross-posting to multiple groups.)


This describes a hypothetical person who has this role. Obviously, some of the personal characteristics are fictional, and merely serve to humanize the description.

Name Ellie
Nickname Editor Ellie
Photo Only local images are allowed.
Employer Atlanta-based Regional Health Systems, one of the US' leading operators of general acute care hospitals. RHS owns over 150 hospitals in 35 states, with an aggregate of over 20,000 beds. Their 2010 revenue was $10 billion.
Industry and business situation While it has a high gross revenue, like all health care providers RHS is constantly under pressure to hold costs low while driving up patient care. RHS has come up against stiff competition in many local markets from other hospital operators that are actively and successfully using web & mobile technology to take market share from RHS in those local markets.

To combat this loss of market share, RHS brought in a new CMO (for whom Ellie works) who with the existing CIO overhauled the old, staid and static web with a new website. This new site is designed to attract patients by providing extensive information about wellness, disease detection & diagnosis, and new ways to interact with the hospital. RHS also introduced mobile apps in partnership with local media and political celebrities.

This new site was built on a new CMS (Drupal). Initial website design & build was be provided by a digital agency, but the CMO has an internal team that now handles all site aspects. Ellie is the leader of the CMO's internal website team. The CMO has aggressive plans for an ongoing stream of new features, marketing efforts, and patient interactivity.

Note that the bulk of the budget for these new initiatives is coming from the marketing budget, not the IT budget. So if one executive can be said to have had more influence in the CMS selection, the CMO will had the primary role. The CIO had to willing to provide internal IT support for the selected system, so his opinion was sought, but it was not the primary driving opinion..

Role in CMS selection Secondary. Was involved in CMS discussions, but was not the primary decision maker. Like most of the RHS web team, they are very excited about this project, since the CMO's ideas are very cool, and should bring their web presence from a 2001-era experience to a 2012-era experience and functionality. The CMO clearly asked for Ellie's input, since he has high expectations of her team doing lots of the work. And the CMO did not want to be reliant on the (poor) CIO's staff & budget. But (sadly?) Ellie's influence did not have as much impact on the decision as the digital agency (which fortunately, they selected Drupal.) The one place she did have a say was in whether she thought she could build whatever pages the CMO wanted after the digital agency left. While she had doubts, and expressed some skepticism about her ability to do this given the state of Drupal in mid-2011, she said she'd learn what it took to do it, and said OK to Drupal.
Frequency of CMS use Daily. She may be the one person with the most advanced knowledge about content creation in Drupal at her company (or in her team if she's in a large company). She knows the joys, and the pains, of the CMS.
Personal goals She wants to eventually do more management, but isn't sure how much. She doesn't know enough about Senior Director or VP role responsibilities to know if she wants that or not. But before then, she'd like to do less day-to-day page building and more team management. Until she gets that promotion, however, she is proud to perform her professional role to her best.
Title & Responsibilities Senior Web Producer. Ellie's job is very much like that of a line producer of a TV newscast: she is the lead on the internal web team to make sure web initiatives are implemented as needed by RHS. In this role, she's both an organizer - marshalling others inside RHS to create or supply elements needed by the website - and a doer, creating pages, layouts, content, content types (not created in the initial build), views, contexts, and anything else needed to get website content up.
Professional goals Ellie would like to eventually be more manager than do-er, but she's good at execution. So for now she enjoys her role as Producer, since it gives her the satisfaction of managing others but still lets her get her hands (a little bit) dirty.
Web technology knowledge Ellie has been using a CMS built by RHS' previous digital agency for the last 4 years. She's very good at it, and can tell you all the things it does well, and doesn't do well. She likes what technology can help her build; she isn't infatuated so much like the technology itself. She does not particularly want to become "a Drupalist." She wants to be a good health care marketer, and Drupal is merely her tool.
General technical abilities She's a very competent computer user, but her laptop is her tool, not her life. She wants technology to "just work," so she insists on her team using Macs (and gets her way), though the company around her is predominantly Windows (since the bulk of health care systems run windows). She's good at insisting, and getting the support and help she needs from the CIO, particularly since the CMO has so much influence now.
Education & job history Ellie graduated with a BS in Web and Interactive Media from PennState in 2006. She has worked for RHS since she graduated. She started in a general marketing role when there was no CMO, moving up to her current role when the new CMO was brought on in 2009.
Specific Drupal training received The CMO approved Ellie's request to attend a week-long Drupal training course for expert content creators. As indicated above, she didn't attend the "Drupal programming training" courses, since she does not want to learn to program. She does not mind writing some HTML & CSS, though, since her prior CMS required her to do quite a lot of it. She understands the basics of getting information from a database, since the CMS RHS used before Drupal also stored all its content in a database; she can write a very basic SQL query as long as it isn't a join. She also has written a bit of Javascript here and there, and would like to learn a little more about this, because she wants the site to become much more interactive, and much less page-oriented. So she's willing to invest a little time here. However, if it comes to extensive Javascript writing, she'll call the digital agency and have them write it. She'd rather assemble Javascript components already provided by the system into a layout / function she wants.

Job description

Ellie is the day-to-day person responsible for making sure the web content needed by her employer gets onto the site, and meets the goals of her boss (the CMO). You can liken her job to a Producer on a TV show, where she must both do things directly as well as get others to do things to make sure the product (web pages) are finished at top quality.

To do this, she:

  • Works with the CMO & other marketing team members to come up with compelling and useful new ideas for website functionality. She works with that team to test general ideas out with paper mockups in a quick user study to vett the ideas before starting implementation.
  • Design page layouts (in partnership with the marketing team) to achieve the goal
  • Implement those page layouts in the CMS
  • Assure that all pages created look good on a mobile and tablet devices
  • Directly writes content for web pages as well as getting others to write content, that she must approve before it is posted
  • Creates or find images or videos to display on pages, as well as getting others ..(as above)
  • Creates news items about upcoming events in local RHS hospitals or cities, things happening in the organization, or the health care world, etc., as well as getting others ..(as above)
  • Sometimes creates A/B or multivariate tests of page designs to dig another layer deeper to discover which layout achieves the desired visitor behavior
  • Creates / edits content types & views as needed to fill content in desired page sections
  • Troubleshoots error messages for other content creators who don't have to do anything except create pages (e.g. for those wo "just create nodes" in Drupalspeak)

For difficult problems - e.g. Drupal capabilities needed, or new JS widgets, or ..- she has access to a Drupalist at the digital agency RHS used for the site build. She does not, however, have a Drupal programmer or themer on staff with her, and her budget is tight enough where she cannot hire one every time a new page layout is needed. So she must mostly work within the constraints of what Drupal gives her, without new coding for every new initiative.

Specific content creation needs

Ellie must fundamentally be able to create 90%+ of what the CMO wants without having to call the digital agency. This means she needs to be able to do the following:

  • Create any page in her choice of 1, 2, or 3 column layout, with the flexibility to put various sections (e.g. Drupal blocks or equal) in various places on the page. These blocks may sometimes want to span micro-columns. See, for example, and note how the block under the hero image contains micro-columns. It's highly likely that the digital agency that built the site will not have added Drupal .tpl elements for the new layouts that need implemented. And since Ellie does not want to become a Drupalist (coder, front end developer, or themer), she needs to be able to (mostly) point/click to create the necessary pages.
  • (Note: All such pages will essentially preserve the branding of the overall site. On occasion, however, the background image of the page may be required to be vary. Note again, for example, how the page background changes as you browse from to . Similar changes may happen from place to place on the RHS site.)
  • Create variants on some of these pages that will be delivered to mobile devices. There is a presumption that there is no separate "mobile site" (e.g. no, and that the site is viewed in browsers on smart phones. RHS would prefer to be able to specify that some pages do not attempt to show to mobile phones all the page content in the same layout as on the browser site; so laying out a mobile-specific page, and previewing that page is one of Ellie's needs.
  • A/B & multivariate tests. She needs to be able to test all types of options - e.g. page layouts, location of elements on a page (e.g. does the "register for more info" button pull better if above, or below the call to action?) - and quickly determine which pulls better, and then have all accesses go to the better-performing page.
  • Re-use content across multiple microsites. At RHS, there is a corporate site, but more important are all the individual sites for each hospital. Most hospitals will use the same basic structure for static content (though "application-type" interactions may vary). So she wants to be able to re-use both text and media assets across multiple sites. When content is changed that is used on other sites, she needs to be able to determine if that change should propagate to the other sites (i.e. don't propagate the change automatically without workflow review).
  • Create multilingual sites, since many of their hospitals are in southern US border towns with predominantly spanish speakers. She would prefer that the selected language for the user be preserved across visits (e.g. stored in a cookie & re-used on subsequent visits).
  • Personalized content. The hospital wants to deliver targeted content based on various context features. For instance, once a visitor starts to look at palliative care, the CMO wants the site to start delivering other associated content across all the site that is associated with palliative care - even potentially remembering that interest if the visitor goes to another RHS site in the same region (e.g. switching looking at the Fort Worth to the Dallas hospital).
  • Forms, especially those connected to the hospital CRM system. Yes, the hospital uses Salesforce for some aspects of its operations, such as running paid seminars on doctor office / clinic management. Signup forms must push registration info into RHS' account.
  • Landing pages. While these pages are highly-targeted, tightly-designed pages, they can still live within the boundaries of the existing site's overall design. However, there is an occasional need to place a unique control in a unique place. Examples include putting an below content on a page (e.g. as here), or a combination of vertical tabs plus an associated submenu (e.g. as done here).

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