Re:Design Blog

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Web Redesign Project

User Personas, Sitemap & Navigation Development

Student registering to vote on LR campus

During September and October we worked to develop website user personas and the new website’s sitemap.

It’s important to understand what goals we are trying to achieve with persona and sitemap development during the user experience phase of the project.

  1. Develop an intuitive, user-driven architecture with clear navigational pathways for prospective students, current students, parents and other important secondary and tertiary audiences.
  2. Ensure that all campus and graduate pathways are represented to support an engaging, efficient user journey.


BarkleyREI analyzed current website user data as well discovery session data to understand the wants and needs of website visitors (or users), and to support the development of representative personas.

Personas serve as a reminder of the user types that will use the newly redesigned LR website, and will also help aid the formulation of specific user flows that are relative to each persona’s identified needs.

Some user personas we’ve developed include:

  • Prospective Undergraduate Student
    • Traditional first-year student – right out of high school
    • Transfer student might have some college or a two-year degree from a community college
    • Adult student – may work full- or part-time, might have a family, could have some college or no college
  • Prospective Parent
    • Child may be first in family to go to college or could be legacy student (parent went to LR)
    • Interested in how they are going to pay for college and if their investment in college will be worth it, is college going to be safe for their child, etc.
  • Prospective Graduate Student
    • Hickory, Asheville, Columbia, LTSS
    • May be right out of receiving an undergraduate degree or spent some time working and looking to advance in their field or change careers.
    • May be an older student looking to start a second or third career.

Additional personas include alumnus/a, faculty or staff, donor, among others. Here is an sample user persona.

Sample User Persona:
Keelan (Prospective Undergraduate Student)

Do you have my top major? Will I have options?”

Keelan is a current high school senior living in Winston-Salem, N.C. He participates in marching band and the bi-annual innovation challenge. He loves technology and is fascinated by the process of bringing new products to market.

Goals & Motivations

Keelan intends to pursue a career in entrepreneurship and/or innovation, but he is undecided on a major.


  • Ensure LR offers business, entrepreneurship and management majors
  • Check to see if LR offers the opportunity to get involved in marching band

Pain Points

  • Websites that are difficult to browse on his phone
  • Having to call or email someone to get the information he’s seeking

Browsing Habits

  • Keelan is a digital native. Although he owns a laptop, he prefers to browse the internet on his iPhone. He has limited data so he tries to use public wi-fi whenever possible when he’s not at home.

What is a Site Map?

Sitemap showing homepage, high-level pages, second-level pages and third-level pagesA sitemap is a high-level visual representation of a website’s structure, organization and categorization. The purpose of a site map is to plan the logical presentation of content and user-centric functionality.

Sitemaps show page hierarchy, visualize user paths and group related content.

Sitemap Testing

After developing the LR website sitemap, we tested it with primary target audiences to make sure the structure and labels are clear. This included current undergraduate and graduate students on all LR campuses — Hickory, Asheville, Columbia and LTSS. In total, 188 LR students completed sitemap testing with the following breakdown by group.

  • Undergraduate Student 62.6%
  • Graduate Student 31.4%
  • Doctoral Student 1.2%
  • High School Student 2.4%
  • Other 2.4%

The new sitemap tested well with students. The data gathered during testing was used to inform a few changes to labels and the location of a couple pages.

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