What are the objects in the users mental model?
What are the objects’ relationships to each other?
What are the capabilities the users have to act upon the objects?
What are the attributes that make up the objects?
To begin the process, we start with Object discovery, which is conducted by reviewing documentation for nouns relevant to the users. For this project, I accomplished this by reviewing the current MUFON website and MUFON's Wikipedia page. After considering each object's structure and context and its importance, I came up with seven main functions.
Objects are defined through relationships with other objects. If a relationship exists between two objects, one object should be accessible through the other object, a path is perceived between the objects. Real world relationships should also define digital navigation.
Organizing and prioritizing attributes early in the process allows for more intentional design and consistency. It avoids errors such as changing objects, identical objects, disconnected objects, or broken objects. When objects are well defined, each object is distinct and recognizable, therefore easily usable. Attributes are the elements that make up the structure of an object:
name, email, title, description
location, category, date/time, status
These calls to action are affordances that an object offers to a user. Task flows start with a trigger, and that is usually a button. These calls to action need to be visible and reversible and part of a flow of incremental actions that receive immediate feedback.
create, delete, buy, follow, submit, add
In order to organize and document the requirements, I created a Trello Board with all of the objects, attributes, and calls to action from the discovery phase. This allows for easy reference, collection, and collaboration.
Next, I reviewed all of the objects and attributes and added additional context and requirements. Objects have mechanics, cardinality, filters, and dependencies, and attributes include various details, including how the attribute functions as well as possible content.
It's time to make tough choices. What is the immediate priority, and which objects will be added to the roadmap and prioritized for a later date. For this project, there was some overlap between Case and Evidence. The MUFON user will want to search content through a Case, but the users may wish to explore the Evidence alone outside of a Case. This user may want to conduct their own mini investigations. As a phase 1, the Case object is integral to the organization's structure, and Evidence would add delight and flexibility, but that feature is not necessary for the initial release it is a nice to have.
So, for this project, I had to descope three objects: Evidence, Post, and Journal. They will undoubtedly add greater engagement, but to deliver, they will need to be prioritized for later phases of this project.
The Trello board can be a bit inflexible when documenting the calls to action (CTA). So for these requirements, I created a CTA Spreadsheet. The requirements for CTA's are best done in two phases. In the first phase, I documented Who uses the CTA's, When, and the Why. Once that was completed, I reviewed all of the information and was able to add the Where column, which is the user's priority and how it aligns with the hierarchy, and the Phase column, where we consider the business priorities.
As we move from prioritization and before we finally begin to sketch, it’s essential to take a moment to review how the objects will intersect with each other to ensure holistic and natural navigation.
Finally, it’s time to sketch! In the sketching phase, the goal is to align three different views of the same object to represent the information and consistency we have worked hard to collect.
This view is a snippet that represents an instance of the object. If that object has a detail page, the module leads to the full detail view. The module view includes only the most crucial information about the object.
A top-level list view will represent many objects. Some objects or nested objects may only have a list view; other objects may navigate from here to the full detail page.
The page (URL) includes all of the attributes of the objects.
Case Object Sketch
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Article Object Sketch
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I incorporated an updated color palette that is a modern take on a very classic alien aesthetic. I thought it was important to claim all of the work that made MUFON the oldest and largest civilian UFO investigation and research organization worldwide. As we design for the future, it's essential to design for all. As you can see, ADA (American's with Disability Act) color compliance has been designed into the new brand palette.
The current MUFON logo needed some updating and had such a design opportunity already there. The UFO that is part of the organization's name is a statement, so I made the word UFO a little out of focus, which symbolizes their purpose of understanding this phenomenon. The slab serif font selection for the name is a nod to classic government documents, and the modern san serif represents the future.
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Consistency and scaling are some of the biggest challenges in software development and design. This approach introduces more rigor before the actual sketching begins, but a little more work on the front end has massive payoffs and is well worth the effort. Having so many details accounted for as part of the initial work allows for more alignment and fewer unknowns as we dive deeper into a project. The OOUX/OCRA approach can unmask meaningful or missing requirements much earlier in the process. Other benefits are increased cross-functional understanding of the project and faster development since clear and comprehensive documentation is available, lower cost, and, most importantly, happier teams and users.