User Interface Architectures
Good design begins with a good plan
A User Interface Architecture (aka UIA or High-level Architecture or HLA) involves synthesizing a
design from your business goals & amp; objectives, the nature of your end-users or
customers, the tasks that that need to be completed and the platform or technology
you will be using.
The data required for this process is drawn out using a user-centred design approach that includes key stakeholders from the business and technology. These business needs are used to develop initial concepts which are then reviewed and tested with actual users.
All of these results are fed back into the user interface architecture which acts as a blue-print for the overall design and flow of your site or application.
Using visualization techniques, we define and evaluate the next generation of the your web site or application. Our techniques help the project team and users to review the design direction. With UI concepts, story boards and task flows, staff and users will be enabled to see the tasks they need to perform. Key stakeholders and Users can interact with and evaluate the new "site" before it is developed.
Being user centred means iterative usability testing through the process. Using the right testing techniques at the right time is important to evaluating the interface structure and user interaction. This interaction is critical as it will define and defend your product in the market. An easy to use interface combined with effective graphics creates a positive initial impression for new users and an efficient, productive quality experience for expert high use business partners.
With the advent of mobile devices, usability and architecture considerations are no different. Our experience in UI concepts applies as much as ever in usability for smartphones. And over the past few years, work on a variety of mobile designs has born out new insights into the user experience. The actual processes we use are changed only slightly and render the same rich insights in to the usability of new products.
User Experience Design Processes
The following outlines our process for architecting the user experience. We recommend this approach, to create, visualize and test the new user experience of your application, site or product. Our deliverables maximize your opportunity for success by visualizing and testing the user experience architecture before it is built. The outcome of this process is a tested user experience framework.
The process is highly iterative and includes communication with key project staff, end-users and development team for collecting and for verifying application or site requirements. The end user is defined in the User and Task Analysis Stage and the supporting user experience is created and evaluated within the High Level Architecture stage. This sets the direction for Detailed Design and Construction.
Role of Detailed Interaction Design: Once the user interface architecture is in place, one can easily plan for the detailed design of lower-level pages. We are "ruthlessly pragmatic" in applying a sound methodology while speeding the creation of a page design within defined time constraints.
The project methodology outlines a staged approach to create, visualize and test the user experience.
Major steps in process:
- User and Task Analysis
- Initial Briefing and Planning
- Prepare User Interface Concepts
- User Testing
- Analyze Results and Hold Strategy Session
- Design the User Experience
- Prepare Presentation and Present Findings
1. User and Task Analysis
The following activities and resources will be required to accomplish the objectives and create the deliverables providing a foundation for customer experience design.
2. Initial Briefing and Planning
We meet with the major stakeholders and the project team to further understand your business strategies. This will include:
- Briefing on business strategy and direction
- Understand business goals and ROI criteria/metrics
- Collect all prior research/understandings / user trends and points of pain
- Understand current site usage and flow in existing site
- Understand current technical infrastructure- opportunities and constraints
- Understand current model- opportunities and constraints
- Clarification of relevant documentation of business requirements, Architecture doc etc.
- Further understand and define target user populations
- A decomposition of future functional integration and strategic purpose
3. Prepare UI Concepts
We can prepare hand-drawn paper prototypes, computer drawn paper prototypes, high-graphic paper prototypes, wired online prototypes, or even interactive online prototypes for usability testing of the initial high level conceptual site structure and screen flow. This test evaluates the self-evidency, functional salience and navigation strategy. We prepare a usability test protocol. The main focus is issues and objectives, participants, and locations. We work with you to complete the logistics necessary for the user interviews.
4. User Testing of the User Interface
We complete the previously developed User Testing protocol and User Interface concept test. We gather data about each of the relevant user types. We probe for user characteristics, environment, task flow, problems and opportunities experienced by participants.
Participant interviews usually run between 45 and 95 minutes each. We can hold sessions online using web based conferencing.
5. Analyze Results and Hold Strategy Session
We compile, analyze, and document the results of the user interviews. We will produce a presentation that will deliver as appropriate:
- User Profiles
- High-Level Task flow
- High Level User Interface Architecture concept wireframes
- Usability testing results
- Problems and Opportunities
- Functional salience results
We then prepare for and hold a 1-day workshop with your team. In this meeting, we share the insights of our usability and task analysis and work to establish consensus as to the site strategy, functional objects and design direction.
6. Design the User Experience
Based on customer data, team feedback and insights gathered, we evolve a high-level site design, plus page designs for three to five critical supporting screens. The site wireframe designs can be presented in storyboard fashion, or "wired" for functionality. We also define the top-level functions. We can work informally or formally with the project team to iterate the designs.
As more companies have become aware of the need for search engine optimization and social media optimization, we can also offer tips on integrating UI architecture with SEO architecture.
7. Prepare Presentation and Present Findings
We prepare a presentation of the project deliverables. The presentation will include results of our data gathering, proposed wireframes, and evolution of the design.