Coherent systems need a coherent vision

in Interaction design,UX Management

After years of working in IT, companies still regularly tell me that they no longer know all the systems they have or what they do. Isolated and fragmented systems are often welded together in unknown ways.

To keep from losing control of systems like this, designers have to respond not with individual features or requirements lists but with a coherent vision. Such a vision should be defined in terms of work practices – people’s roles and tasks – not by pages of textual functional requirements which customers don’t understand and too often don’t read.

A coherent vision sets the scene for the start of requirements elicitation and modelling. It provides a shared understanding of the user groups (and their roles), goals, and assumptions. Sometimes a vision statement is handed down from management, a client, or marketing department. At other times it will emerge from open-ended discussions about new technologies, or as a solution specific to known problems, for example, dissatisfaction with business processes.

It is important to list assumptions because they may have important effects on subsequent analysis and design work. For example, failing to include usability experts on teams will limit attention to and resolution of usability concerns.

A coherent vision is at the core of a coherent system: a system based on the understanding of user roles and their work goals together with the exploitation of new technologies, work redesign, and business change operating in unison.


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