The first of our four basic design phases, we often call this, the “Definition” phase – as what we determine in this phase singularly defines just what we’ll be designing. By staying focused on areas like goals, audience, and other strategic elements of the project, we leave out the execution part and focus on identifying just what is necessary for the project to be a success.
In helping our clients refine and finalize their product requirements and strategy, we develop the following documents (sometimes not all of them) in order to pin-down specific decisions:
1. Mental Model
We use this activity to explore a wide range of touch-points that not only the product has with the audience but also the surrounding efforts and activities in place that drive brand awareness and experience. Together, we look at the broad-reaching impacts on your audience and how best to approach identifying and solving problems.
2. Features & Goals
Ultimately, we capture all the ideas being discussed and organize them around business goals. Together, the combination of features and goals highlight a strong strategy for the project. This, then ties into overall project criteria for success.
3. Tasks Analysis/Requirements Our version of a requirements document (product development speak) is a blend of both requirements definition and the specification of the “things” that users will need to be able to do within the application. This ultimately, gives way to the second phase – Workflows & Wireframes.
4. Information Architecture
Finally, at this point, we also draw a diagram that outlines the major pieces of functionality and content for the product. An Information Architecture should not be confused with a Web site “map” as it is not a navigational diagram – it is a structural diagram that simply organizes the major pieces of functionality (and content) into an abstract diagram. This allows all people involved to begin visualizing just what the product will eventually become.