Developing. Working. Teaching.

Experience Design Model

In the past two years I’ve been working to create UX artifacts for the purpose of teaching. It took a while because I needed to sort out all the noise from what eventually turned into an Experience Design Model.  I’m sharing this concept with you here. In the future I will share my notes as well so that you can see how I arrived here.

There are a number of Experience Design Models out there so you can decide which works for you. My concept brings together mental models (see Indi Young’s book) and UX to help us organize the process and the work that we do as designers. My intention is to strengthen each UX discipline by creating more focus. I have created a LinkedIn group to start a conversation about this work and I’m hopeful you can join in and give me your thoughts. I will continue to expand on the subject and include UX activities I use, plus others I will no doubt learn about from you and others.

Experience Design Model

This Experience Design Model brings together mental models and UX to create focus.

The groupings I’ve created are well known. However, based on the concept of mental models, I have separated each grouping as its own discipline. I don’t believe we are capable of placing random UX activities into our tool belt just because we are UX practitioners. I believe some of us are more capable in the data analysis side and others more capable in the human relationships side of design. But more on this later.

As to the grouping definitions, while I’m happy with the majority of them, I am concerned with task analysis. I would like to know if you have a better definition than what currently exists on Wikipedia. Maybe one of our UX authors can give us guidance here. Below, I have placed the definition language you see in the image. I’ve noted where I got the definition or if I put it together myself.

(Ta) Task Analysis is the analysis of how a task is accomplished, including a detailed description of both manual and mental activities, task and element durations, task frequency, task allocation, task complexity, environmental conditions, necessary clothing and equipment, and any other unique factors involved or required for one or more people to perform a given task. –Wikipedia.org.

(Ca) Circumstance analysis is concerned with understanding everything that may affect your product based on the current state of its value network; that is all connections within the cost structure of your product. –Olga Howard

(Ga) Gamification analysis discovers the value of users and their activities as they relate to your product. It creates value systems that engage users to your product and extends those value systems to your broader set of customers. –Olga Howard

(Ia) Information architecture is the art and science of organizing data to support usability. – I found several people using this definition but I would be happy to get one for the IA Institute.

(Id) Interaction design defines the behavior of artifacts, environments, and systems by anticipating how individuals use these elements and how these elements mediate human relationships and affect human understanding. –ixda.org.

(Ua) Usability analysis determines the level of ease or difficulty in the use of any particular interface. – I found several people using this definition but would love to hear if you have a better one.

In order to focus our UX disciplines I have made the following distinctions.

  • Task analysis centers around what makes sense.
  • Circumstance analysis centers around decision-making.
  • Gamification analysis centers around user engagement.
  • Information architecture centers around what [your product] looks like.
  • Interaction design centers around what [your product] feels like.
  • Usability is concerned with what [your product] does.

As a UX Director these distinctions help me organize UX skills around projects. As a UX practitioner I am more capable on the data analysis side. That means my most meaningful work comes from task analysis, circumstance analysis, gamification analysis, information architecture, and usability. I don’t spend practitioner hours on what a product feels like–from the sense of what I believe Interaction Designers do. As I move forward I am hopeful that I will hear form those of you who do spend your time on what products feel like so that your expertise can inform this work.

Next time I will discuss the distinctions I made above so that you can see where this is headed. Thank’s in advance for your input.

Usability = What Your Product Does

I started this series of posts with the goal of telling the story of my Experience Design Model. It took some time to get the model to where it is today because there was so much noise that needed to be removed in order to create a cohesive, clear, and easy to use model. So far I’ve shared my notes on task analysis, circumstance analysis, gamification, information architecture, and interaction design. The list of design elements below consists of all the UX disciplines within the Experience Design Model and describes the main focus of each discipline:

This post will focus on usability and its concern with what your product does. First lets look at the definition of usability. (Ua) Usability analysis determines your product’s usability standards and tests against those standards to determine the level of ease or difficulty of use. This definition tells product owners to first determine what the product will do as a standard. For example, as a standard the product will allow printing of all blog posts through the browser print functionality. Then the definition points towards testing for those standards of use to assure an acceptable level of usability. The following are some usability activities that will allow you to determine those usability standards and help in testing against them to determine if your product does what it is meant to do:

(Up) Usability planning requires that you establish your usability testing methods or activities to determine the usability of your product including an explicit explanation for what to do when using each method. Sometimes in practice your usability activities don’t work out as well as you expected and you may need to revise your plan–do so early in the process.

(Uh) Usability heuristics are a set of recognized usability principles that can be measured against a user interface. For example, the use of natural language that is accustomed by the user is an accepted principle that all user interfaces should comply with.

(Ut) User testing is conducted using a number of reliable, repeatable, valid methods or activities to ascertain the level of ease or difficulty in the specific use of interfaces and their functionality.

(Wa) Web accessibility is concerned with making Web environments accessible to people whose disabilities make it difficult to experience the Web. Generally it focuses on coding in such a way that users can use screen readers, keyboards, and transcripts to experience what they cannot see, hear, or navigate to with a mouse. It also includes designing in a way that allows people with cognitive disabilities to digest the information.

(Is) Interface standards and guidelines are instrumental in communicating what works to those who influence and affect the product design. Standards can include design elements such as page architecture in wireframe mode or color palette requirements. Guidelines can be statements that clearly communicate what should be done. For example, all pages must be printer-friendly.

The decision of what your product does begins with task analysis and is affected by every discipline as outlined below:

  1. Task Analysts conclude from their research that a particular user need is not satisfied properly and bring a product idea to the table with a general idea of what the product will do.
  2. Circumstance Analysts review the current circumstance and approve the idea as feasible.
  3. Gamification Analysts then look at the product idea and follow user activities, and connections to others, to identify feasible engagement strategies that would make the product successful.
  4. Information Architects follow the product concept from the user’s perspective to determine what it looks like;  that is, it has the appearance of the product.
  5. Interaction Designers create feelings of association between users and the product.
  6. And in usability, Usability Analysts create standards and guidelines that become what your product does as it is sent out into the market.

Usability completes the product cycle and begins the cycle of product improvement that will continue with usability planning, heuristics, user testing, Web accessibility, interface standards, and other current activities in your organization. So don’t forget usability!

Interaction Design = What it Feels Like

I have recently introduced an Experience Design Model I’ve been working on for some time. It contains six design elements that parallel six UX disciplines. I’ve also been sharing my notes to show how I arrived at the model. So far I’ve discussed task analysis and how it centers around what makes sense, circumstance analysis and how it centers around decision-making, gamification analysis and how it centers around user engagement, and information architecture and how it centers around what your product looks like. This post is dedicated to interaction design and how it centers around what your product feels like. In previous posts I’ve included the list of design elements contained within the Experience Design Model. Here is the list once more:

  • (Ta) Task analysis centers around what makes sense.
  • (Ca) Circumstance analysis centers around decision-making.
  • (Ga) Gamification analysis centers around user engagement.
  • (Ia) Information architecture centers around what [your product] looks like.
  • (Id) Interaction design centers around what [your product] feels like.
  • (Ua) Usability is concerned with what [your product] does.

The interaction design definition I’ve selected is brought to us by IxDA.org(Id) Interaction design defines the behavior of artifacts, environments, and systems by anticipating how individuals use these elements and how these elements mediate human relationships and affect human understanding. This definition tells us that interaction design is focused on mediation of human relationships and human understanding–or, at its most basic level, interpersonal relationships. Wikipedia tells us that an interpersonal relationship is a strong, deep, or close association or acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring. Given these definitions, we can say that interaction design is focused on creating feelings of association between users and the product. Thus, interaction design centers around what your product feels like.

The following list of UX activities are founded on creating feelings of association:

(Br) Brand is the emotional relationship between users and your product. Although brand encompasses everything about your product, Interaction Designers create the associations and connections that attract and keeps users.

(Af) Affordance (Expectation) is a property of an object, or an environment, which allows an individual to perform an action, including elements that allow for easy discoverability of possible actions.

(Sf) Style & function is composed of elements such as line weight, shape, size and color, that create a powerful visual that engages users and provides functionality.

(Hp) Human perception organizes, identifies, and interprets sensory information in order to understand the environment. Because perception shifts with every change in the user’s circumstance, every design element will be viewed by users with varying perceptions.

(Cp) Color patterns are concerned with mapping specific emotions to specific user actions. Color is one of the most important elements of design that will communicate to users not just on the level of association perception, but on the level of emotional connections as well.

In the detailed process of the design element outline above, Task Analysts identify product ideas that make sense based on their research, Circumstance Analysts make decisions about what is feasible based on current circumstance, Gamification Analysts identify engagement strategies based on user value systems, and Information Architects show us what the product looks like by organizing and creating structure out of data. It follows then, that Interaction Designers create associations by creating human connections within the product.

Here, I have presented interaction design as one element out of six within my Experience Design Model. I have concluded that in practice, Interaction Designers mold the organization and structure created by Information Architects into artifacts, environments, and systems that people associate themselves with through the use of UX activities that create human connections. And, I have presented six UX activities that I expect Interaction Designers to apply to the organization and structure created by Information Architects. In the next post I will share my notes on usability and how it centers around what your product does.

Join the conversation in my LinkedIn group. Although I’ve only included six UX activities there are many more that Interaction Designers are responsible for. I would be happy to include UX activities that you use in your Interaction Design practice.




1 Comment