Architecting the User Experience

Ok everybody... get your thinking caps on.  I’m working on developing a new module for our train@skyscrapr architecture training courses.  Today we are asking this question
What are the essential baseline skills an architect needs to have for architecting the User Experience?
User experience is the most important part of any software system (except for systems that don’t involve users at all).  The impact of the software on the business, customers and users of the system will depend in large part on the effectiveness of the design and choices made by the architect as they craft the architecture of the user experience.
To get the ball rolling let’s think about some of the issues involved in user experience architecture.

Understanding the User

  • Gathering user experience requirements based on ethnographic or context based user studies

  • Understanding and Communicating the “way” people want to work verses “what” they do when they are working.  For example – rapid 10 key entry without looking at the screen verses mouse driven type unstructured work.

Understanding the Design Options

  • Deciding which user experience(s) to support (web, mobile, smart client, office based etc.) understanding strengths and weaknesses of each

  • Mapping the user requirements to the platforms and technologies that can best support them

  • Customization of the User Experience by user or customer  - for example: Meta-data driven (“skinnable” UI)

  • Localization strategies

Evaluating the Architecture

  • Investing the “right” amount of time, money, designers and development resources in the user experience

  • Evaluating proposed User Experiences in a lightweight / agile fashion (Is interface “A” better than interface “B”?)

There is a lot of ground to cover just in these topics I’ve listed here.  I’m sure there are more, much more, but we have to draw the line somewhere.  Is there an essential skill or topic about user experience architecture that I have not covered here?  What is it?  Chime in if you will.



Comments (2)

  1. prime99ca says:

    I think the first thing you need to define is the roles and responsibilities of the UX Architect.

    The most imporant aspect of ethnographic research and contextual enquiry is determining what to build, not how to build it. If the architect is the person who is asked to begin the process of building something then in the best case scenario someone has already done the job of identifying the workflow that needs to be accommodated by the software design. The architect then takes those inputs and uses them to produce a positive user experience by mapping the workflow and specifics of the user to an actual interface and from there to a software implementation using appropriate patterns and practices.

    The most important essential skill you’ve missed above is the ability for this person to switch between the mindset of software developer and software designer. With the designer hat on she needs to think about meeting the needs of the user through the design; as a developer she thinks about the available architectures, implementation constraints, pre-existing interfaces, etc.. Take a look at Alan Cooper’s book _The Inmates are Running the Asylum_ for a further commentary on why the developer mindset is to be avoided when doing interaction design.

  2. Accessibility is a necessary skill for designing the user experience. This has to do with how accessible…

Skip to main content