A very unique aspect of the Zaudhaus design process in creating innovative interfaces, is the steps we take in between defining functionality in workflows, and prior to jumping in to wireframes. We call this interim step, Exploring the User Model.
In essence, a user model is a conceptual design – that is, a high-level, abstract, “model” that looks at arranging information and functionality in a particular approach or “concept.” We keep these abstract and very much focused on the point – the conceptual arrangement only. Then, we try other approaches that make sense. The way we work, we also don’t just blindly try ideas – we look, strategically at what the “range” is – as far as what makes sense to explore.
That way we understand what makes sense to try. We get a clear idea of “it’s either this or that” – and we try all of those ideas until we’re confident we’ve really looked at all the examples that matter.
When we review these models with the client, we highlight the pro’s and con’s of each concept model – and then, together, we decide on the best direction. In these examples we’re showing, we wereexploring models for a biotech lab tool. We looked at two different arrangements of the information and the interaction elements – i.e. tabs vs. navigation button/steps.
The benefit from this step-by-step, layer-by-layer proces is that we can effectively dissect and investigate the best way to present the user with the most appropriate experience. We are able to look, specifically, at the UI in this abstract form – and see, quickly, how these different arrangements and choices offer up the best presentation for the audience.
Upon presenting the user-model concepts, we sometimes opt for user-reviews or even focus
group testing in which we’d put a moderator with several savvy users and get their feedback even at this early stage.
We’re able to talk through a model like this and facilitate a discussion that we feel can yield useful results. Additionally, we might also pair this exploration at this phase with further storyboard diagrams that illustrate how each of the models would “flow” for the user.