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GUIDe User interface design

The idea of our user interface design process is to outline a system so that its functionality falls as well as possible to the use situations, which the users encounter most often, or whose completion provides them with a lot of added value for other reasons. Added value may be more efficient customer service at the work place or more enjoyable communication between friends, for example.

The user interface design methodology of GUIDe is simulation-based Goal-Derived Design (GDD), which we have developed at the University of Helsinki, Department of Computer Science, and at Interacta Design. Its pivotal idea is to create good user interface designs by simulating goal-based use cases that are based on concrete use situations.

In the GDD method the designer draws up the user interface design on use case at a time and, at the same time, fixes the interaction between the user and the system in as an optimal way as possible. For high-prioritized use cases, the user is provided with as straightforward access to his goal as possible: instead of complex navigation paths the user gets a view where the data necessary in this case is organized in a way that is best suited for the use case.

A complex path   A straightforward path
Image: A complex navigation path should be made more straightforward.

During the design process we come up with

A key benefit of Goal-Derived Design is that unnecessary features or organizations of data will not be created, because every part of the user interface always serves some concrete use situation. Therefore, the resources available for implementation can be allocated to the functionality that will undoubtedly benefit the users.

A paper prototype
Image: A drafted paper prototype.

During the design process several low-fidelity paper prototypes of the user interface are drafted. As new use cases are integrated into the design, changing the prototype is quick. Intermediate versions of the paper prototypes are typically tested with users. At the end, the paper prototypes are turned into accurate screenshots, where even the most minute pixel-level detail of the user interface has been finalized.

Because the same design problems recur in different applications, we have compiled a few user interface design patterns, which we typically put to use during the design process: