Perspective in Design – A Presentation by Jay Morgan, Information Architect

I had the chance to listen to Jay Morgan’s presentation on user-centered design at the World Congress of Business Analysts today in Boston.  Jay addressed three key areas:

  • Seeing the customer
  • Seeing the product
  • Seeing the total experience

Under Seeing the Customer, Jay examined three techniques:

  • Scenarios – Scenarios are short stories that describe a user’s behavior and interaction with a system.  Scenarios have a beginning, middle and end – and are written in the first person.
  • Mental Models –  Mental Models are maps of user goals to a product’s features and they describe how your users see the experience.  Indi Young from Adaptive Path has been one of the leading proponents of Mental Models.
  • Personas – Personas let you discover the archetypes or idealized models of your user population.  You can analyze reasearch data from qualitative studies to form the ideal personas for your application.  Alan Cooper has written extensively on Personas.

Under Seeing the Product, Jay discussed the three key techniques:

  • Heuristic Evaluation – The concept behind heuristic evaluation is to evaluate your product or website against a scorecard.  Forrester’s Web Site Review checklist provides a good list for evaluation.
  • Usability Testing – Usability testing involves having real users evaluate the product to achieve real goals.  Usabiltiy testing lets you explore, assess and validate.  Open and close card sorting are two methods to do some low-end usability testing
  • Prototyping + Simulation – Under prototyping and simulation, you build a functional, interactive model of the product.  Jay stated that “simulating changes the game in a big way, so you should expect significant returns”.

And under Seeing the Total Experience, Jay discussed:

  • User + Product Perspectives
  • Iterative Design

In summary, Jay made three key points:

  • You will bring a new perspective to work that will improve your products and your process.
  • UCD is a way of “Getting the right design” versus merely “Getting the design right”
  • Designing the total experience is based on an adaptive process of iterative design.

Jay is also one of the community leaders for Catalyze, so I know he will be posting more insights and will be available to answer any community questions on user-centered design.

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