Motivations on using the (Modified) Core Model to Create Purpose on your Site from Scratch
Note: This is under the series of “My Opinionated Way of building Performant Websites”
You can see my plan here: Building my Site my (performant) way
So I want to build my website. To recap, as also the client, this is what I want.
I want to show who am I and what I do (something of a branding)
I want to show case my latest work on the first page that you visit
I want to show a summary of my latest blog post (to entice them to read more…)
I want to show a list of my past research publications (because I am an academician and researcher by profession)
and I want them to be editable on my own dashboard.
So you want to build a website?
But where do I start? As I was scouring the net with a good set of methodologies to start, I came upon OOUX or Object-Oriented User Experience. In essence, OOUX allows us to plan the information architecture of the site so that it will be easy to focus on the essential data objects to be shown on your site. It allows us to identify the needed attributes and actions and rank them based on some priority. And it usually starts with user stories to identify those objects.
The Current Problem with OOUX
Actually, I already gave a shot on how to use OOUX on building the very thing that I want to build in this series. If you think about it (or at least just for me).
But something is amiss.
After doing some real projects over some course of years, I feel that doing OOUX is just doing the information architecture on the backend (or even the frontend), without really nailing how the user would use it. Where should they come from? Where would they go? What is the goal of them visiting the website? I can see the pages: a person’s page, a blog page, etc… I can see the critical actions that they can do…
But the actions and attributes of each data object lack a deeper story.
It’s like the actions and attributes are there, and you can see the connections, but you can’t tell a story on where people will start, where people will go, how will they travel along that path, and did their travel satisfied them?
But isn’t the user story enough to know the story of the user?
Looking back on our example user story from my previous article…
We can see here that it gives the motivation on creating a blog site. It also lists out the actions that can be done by users.
But it still doesn’t tell the whole story. It likes list all the possible actions the character can do or take but doesn’t tell how these are all interconnected, or where will the character come from, why did they arrive in that possible position, why would they take an action available, where will that action take them, and would it have satisfied their need.
In essence, OOUX for me is something akin to just auditing the objects and behaviors that a user can use. We can have reasons and user paths added there but it doesn’t translate well to the end output of the OOUX for the designers or developers to take into account while developing.
Then came the Core Model
I was scouring the net on alternatives to the OOUX and found the Core model, which was presented in the IA Summit of 2007. The whole process can be found in a lot of places:
- A List Apart: The Core Model — Designing Inside Out for Better Results
- A Core Model in 5 steps
- What is Core Model Process: How it works
- Core models: a surprisingly simple solution to content-driven design
For me, the essential point here are these:
- Identify the core pages via matching the business goals/objectives and user tasks
- Define inward paths: How does the user get to that page?
- Determine the core content: What are the content the users need and the business goals meet when they arrive at that page
- Define outward paths: Where do you want to take the users that will ultimately lead to your business goals
- Rinse and repeat to other core pages.
How the Core Model should be done
It is usually a workshop done with a facilitator and a set of stakeholders who has a say in the content and business goals, some potential users, designers, developers, etc…
But there’s a catch…
What the Core Model isn’t telling when it comes to my case
I still don’t have a sitemap… or a list of pages to work on. One of the things that is needed is a working site structure or a sitemap. And then use the business goals and user tasks to do some sort of an Occam’s razor to identify the core essential pages.
So in essence, it feels like it isn’t serving well for plans that will start from scratch.
So, with most of the methodologies out there, I tweaked it to serve my purpose…
- I would still list down my list of business goals (or for my purposes, my personal goals of having a site). I would also list down a list of user needs (or even perceived user needs).
- My small modification of the Core Model comes in on cases that a project still doesn’t have a set of pages like mine. I would start with the home page.
- We do the usual core model procedure, and then list down the pages that will be needed for the outward paths of this page.
- For each new page, we just do #3, until there’s no more page to do.
In essence, we just start with the logical starting point which is the home page. And the logical output would be a sitemap with the minimum core content that we want to meet our needs (or business goals) as well as the needs of the users.
Now, take note that this is my experiment on using the Core model to create a sitemap and core user experience of moving around the site. My next post would be applying and see what we learn about this (and if it needs further tweaking).