Goal-Directed Design

I am a strong advocate of Alan Cooper and ideas expressed in About Face The Essentials of Interaction Design. View a white paper summary of the Goal-Directed Design Process.

In order to understand Goal-Directed Design, it is necessary to understand user goals and how they provide the key to designing appropriate interaction behavior. Products designed and built to achieve business goals alone will eventually fail; personal goals of users need to be addressed.

Why is a user performing an activity, task, action or operation in the first place? Goals motivate people to perform activities; understanding goals allows you to understand the expectations and aspirations of your users, which can in turn help you decide which activities are truly relevant to your design.

Goal-Directed Design is a powerful tool for answering the most important questions that crop up during the definition and design of a digital product:

  • Who are my users?
  • What are my users trying to accomplish?
  • How do my users think about what they are trying to accomplish?
  • What kind of experiences do my users find appealing and rewarding?
  • How should my product behave?
  • What form should my product take?

Goals, not features, are the key to product success

Reducing a product’s definition to a list of features and functions ignores the real opportunity – orchestrating technological capability to serve human needs and goals. Too often the features of our products are a patchwork of nifty technological innovations structured around a marketing requirements document or organization of the development team with too little attention paid to the overall user experience.

Interaction design is not guesswork

The Goal-Directed process, with its clear rationale for design decisions, makes collaboration with developers and businesspeople easier, and ensures that the design in question isn’t guesswork, the whim of a creative mind, or just a reflection of the team members’ personal preferences.