Analysis and Concept
- Project Planning
- Analysis of the Usage Context
- Interaction Design
- Information Architecture
A successful User-Centred Design project (UCD) requires usability and design specialists to be involved as early as possible to ensure sustainable success.
In general, real usability problems occur due to structural problems in the information architecture and cannot be resolved at a later date through a superficial facelift of the Graphical User Interface (GUI).
In fact, the gap between people and technology begins to widen as soon as the analysis of the technical system requirements is carried out without the end user in mind.
Collaboration with our client therefore starts with a joint briefing workshop and a claims analysis with regards to the given actors and stakeholders involved in the project.
This puts us and our clients in the pole position for the further implementation of the project.
At HID all projects are coordinated by an experienced project management team. This guarantees time and budget planning, achieves superior project organisation and communication and creates an internal structure for the intensive work of our multidisciplinary usability and design team. At the same time, we at HID trust in the power of the shortest path. We believe in the direct operational-technical exchange between our employees and their respective contact partners at our contractors or their external service providers.
We understand consultation and planning as essential ingredients to achieve the best possible project execution. This can be a classical user-centred design processes up to an agile approach in which we for instance utilise Scrum processes to responsively synchronise our development of usability and design.
Analysis of the Use Context
The basis for a promising user-centred design process lies in a simple, yet powerful question: "Do we from the start get the opportunity to understand the mental models of the users, their expectations, fears, requirements and preferences concerning the technology we are meant to design?"
We want to understand these mental models and even have to in order to generate valuable design work. Therefore the empathetic analysis of the use context is our central interest from the first steps within a project. Contextual inquiry is an effective method to gain access to implicit user knowledge and allows placing the requirements analysis in the context of use. As part of this we observe and survey people in the context in which the specific technical products and systems are used. Depending on the possible modes of documentation in the field, we capture our observations for a further analysis through photos, videos and audio recordings as well as personal notes.
This analysis concerns two central elements of the concept phase: the development of the interaction design and the information architecture.
When creating the interaction design concept, we concentrate on the design of interaction processes. What encourages successful dialogue between people and technology, how is it consistently developed and clearly implemented? What input/output technology should be implemented? Which interface paradigm is the most suitable - GUI (Graphical User Interface), NUI (Natural User Interface), OUI (Organic User Interface)? Are we going for mouse and keyboard, touch, gesture, language, analogue haptics, sensor systems or a skilful mix? Where in the spectrum between conservative and progressive interaction possibilities should we set the interaction design? Do we want well-known interaction forms or innovation? Does one support the other?
You can be sure that we utilise both our twelve years of experience as well as our experimental, visionary energy to expose the most promising use processes and unfold these spot-on in the interaction design.
The design of processes has a symbiotic partner: the information architecture. This is the second important aspect that is developed during the concept phase. With the information architecture we design the structure of an interactive system. We determine the contents and their position in the process sequences as well as the basic layout of the screen design. With regards to methods of user involvement, we here work with for example card sorting workshops, where the user structures menu contents in a manner that is logical from his perspective. As early as this project phase we also begin with the development of interactive prototypes (e.g. paper prototypes), simple click dummies on a wireframe basis and, depending on project orientation, the first simple hardware prototypes and user experience experiments.
We reflect on and evaluate the results of the concept phase together with our clients. Once the concepts have been defined, their most important features are documented and handed over to the next project phase - the design phase - where their individual "look and feel" is specified.