UML for UX?

15 Feb 2010 - 4:54pm
4 days ago
10 replies
4167 reads
Gail Swanson
2008

My organization is moving toward UML for all of its documentation,
from requirements through development and maintenance. The UX
practice here is in it's infancy and I am now a team of one. While
I'm familiar with UML, I'm skeptical that it will be appropriate
for user flows and any other UX documentation.

Has anyone worked in a UML environment? How did you integrate your
practice into RUP or similar methodologies?

Comments

15 Feb 2010 - 5:10pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

I've found UML to be quite helpful in requirements definition -- the
process enables workflow to be described in a way that is entirely
separate from defining the UI.

The end result is a set of requirements that doesn't rely on UI
elements (which can be defined later, and not baked in during
requirements generation).

-Anne

On Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 8:54 AM, gail swanson
<gail_swanson at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> My organization is moving toward UML for all of its documentation,
> from requirements through development and maintenance. The UX
> practice here is in it's infancy and I am now a team of one. While
> I'm familiar with UML, I'm skeptical that it will be appropriate
> for user flows and any other UX documentation.
>
> Has anyone worked in a UML environment? How did you integrate your
> practice into RUP or similar methodologies?
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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--
Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."

15 Feb 2010 - 8:24pm
Bruce Esrig
2006

Well, I've looked at the diagrams and thought about their implications
for the confluence of technical culture and interaction design
culture. Perhaps this will help ...

Of the UML diagrams
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Modeling_Language#Diagrams_overview

... at a detail level, the sequence diagram aligns best with what
interaction designers like to talk about. You can have several actors
experiencing events and notifying one another with messages.

The activity diagram is basically a flow chart, which can be at a high
level or a low level.

The really delicate one is the use case diagram. If you can come to
agreement with your UML adoption team on how to express scenarios and
how those relate to use case diagrams, you'll have a good time. This
is your chance to advocate for a view that is strongly context-driven,
in which the systems play a supporting role and recede from playing a
determining role in the interactions. You may end up writing the
scenarios separately, or using the use case notation to write
scenarios that come from your understanding of typical uses, or
cross-checking your scenarios against use cases that were primarily
written with systems in mind. It's not that the systems aren't
important, but they can easily dominate the discussion. So it's the
manner of interpretation of the use case diagrams that you'll probably
want to pay the most attention to.

Best wishes,

Bruce

On Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 5:10 PM, Anne Hjortshoj <anne at annehj.com> wrote:
> I've found UML to be quite helpful in requirements definition -- the
> process enables workflow to be described in a way that is entirely
> separate from defining the UI.
>
> The end result is a set of requirements that doesn't rely on UI
> elements (which can be defined later, and not baked in during
> requirements generation).
>
> -Anne
>
>
> On Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 8:54 AM, gail swanson
> <gail_swanson at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>> My organization is moving toward UML for all of its documentation,
>> from requirements through development and maintenance. The UX
>> practice here is in it's infancy and I am now a team of one. While
>> I'm familiar with UML, I'm skeptical that it will be appropriate
>> for user flows and any other UX documentation.
>>
>> Has anyone worked in a UML environment? How did you integrate your
>> practice into RUP or similar methodologies?
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Anne Hjortshoj | anne at annehj.com | www.annehj.com | Skype: anne-hj |
> Hjortshoj is pronounced "YORT-soy."
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

16 Feb 2010 - 2:08am
Bryce Johnson
2007

On Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 5:54 AM, gail swanson
<gail_swanson at sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> Has anyone worked in a UML environment? How did you integrate your
> practice into RUP or similar methodologies?

Hi Gail.

I'm a big fan of the UML (except I hate saying The UML :-)

In my past life I had to do double duty creating UX documentation and
System Requirements. Since the client of my documentation were
developers and test using UML made my documentation easier for them to
consume.

IBM around 2003 were pushing a technique called User Engineering that used
a technique called OVID (Object View and Interaction Design). It was
all very interesting but it was also a lot of extra overhead.
http://www.amazon.com/Designing-User-OVID-Dave-Robert/dp/1578701015

I think that understanding Use Case, Activity, Sequence (maybe) and
Basic Class modeling is all you would need.

A List Apart had some good articles on Use Case Modeling

What’s the Problem?: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/whatstheproblem/

Use Cases Part II: Taming Scope: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/tamingscope/

If you wanted to by a book all you need is the Fowler's UML Distilled:
http://www.amazon.com/UML-Distilled-Standard-Modeling-Language/dp/0321193687/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266302123&sr=8-1

There are some samples below of what I have used the UML for. I hope
this helps.

Bryce Johnson
Tw: @brycej | http://powerpivotor.com

USE CASE MODEL
http://public.blu.livefilestore.com/y1pI1BCZEGrLPre5D8qp1lOhrdJAf_4LvY4IZUgqzaIkGyYIlAxxArvryYsMFudSoPImoL5w74Z86l-PUU6m27G-Q/UseCase.png

DOMAIN MODEL
http://public.blu.livefilestore.com/y1pwxDljU33rX0SbeEn1XiFkP5ZAfFZaIY3k_z5Cr-ZbEYP4O_MXO3OPcCq705A51XtRasimxuPbQMhIW6IZ9sufQ/DomainModel.png

USER MODEL IN UML - this was not very successful, kinda a waste of time.
http://public.blu.livefilestore.com/y1pyq2tWEjLxZdnyFxbvp8thV20UGuiWVwZWsmk33eBOpjqDEZ_rhJdXSfk3p2tkzQw0SA4DOD-O3K0z1PQv-B0XA/mehUserModel.png

SDLC with UX inserted.
http://public.blu.livefilestore.com/y1pyF-ppFZuXsedrk_ntXIXqQqT0BZKkA7fNjD0jMU6RoorCCM1sxSpokqwzqKga9-EYaqEJ9Yu4w3-dlisFbQ2Lw/SDLC-with-UX.png

Visio XML file of the above images.
http://cid-fc38e032fcead65b.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/UML-IxDA/UML-Samples.vdx

Bryce Johnson
Tw: @brycej | http://powerpivotor.com

16 Feb 2010 - 3:05am
Maciej Bieganski
2010

Hi,

I've been using UML and prototyping tools together for years. These
two methods go together in a very nice way. Especially, if you focus
on main types of the diagrams - activity diagram, and use cases.

Why?
First of all, UML requires being strict. It is easier to cover whole
logical flow of the application with UML than with story telling :)).

Using activity diagrams you can indicate all transitions, user's
decision points etc, system messages etc. It improves DEVELOPERS
work, if you indicate EXACT prototypes by linking a them in the
activity/action workflow.

Secondly, it is usable for you as well - to have a complete view of
the business logic SEPARATED from the UI layer.

At some point, I agree with skeptical view. UML based methodology is
rather supportive tool for UX designers. It helps, but does not
replace tool set you are using right now. I don't see it
significantly usable in UX documentation, patterns decs etc.

Finally, UML driven development process is boosting mostly business /
system analyze phase...

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16 Feb 2010 - 9:14am
suewah
2008

When I began doing IA work in '98 we incorporated many types of UML
exercises and diagrams. It was incredibly helping in the requirements
phase to understand how the major components that would make up a
solution would work together. I found by understanding the inner
workings of the application in this way informed what the UI needed
to do from a system persective. These requirements coupled with UX
type documentation (ie personas, IA, usability testing etc.) can only
help create a better product in the end.

Charles Sue-Wah-Sing
www.suewahsing.com
twitter: suewah

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16 Feb 2010 - 9:01am
Rex Kilian
2008

I've used both and find the specific usefulness of each as follows:

* UX is the research and design of a solution.
* UML is the technical specification of the solution that resulted
from the UX work.

It helps me to remember that proper User Centered Design brings a
multi-disciplinary team to the table including Design, Computer
Science, and Cognitive Psychology to find the proper UX solution.
Then that solution needs to be built but a technology team. Providing
the technology team with UML specifications of the solution bridges
the gap that often exists between these two groups.

Rex Kilian
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
rexkilian at cmu.edu

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16 Feb 2010 - 12:36pm
Gail Swanson
2008

Thanks for all of the good input and examples everyone!

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17 Feb 2010 - 2:34am
William Hudson
2009

Hi, Gail. I wrote a book chapter on this very topic about 10 years ago.
The book is called 'Object Modeling and User Interface Design: Designing
Interactive Systems' (mine is Chapter 9, Toward Unified Models in
User-Centered and Object-Oriented Design).

You can find it at Amazon -
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201657899/syntagmltd02

Regards,

William Hudson
Syntagm Ltd
Design for Usability
UK 01235-522859
World +44-1235-522859
US Toll Free 1-866-SYNTAGM
mailto:william.hudson at syntagm.co.uk
http://www.syntagm.co.uk
skype:williamhudsonskype

Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road, Abingdon
OX14 2DS.

Attend our courses on Ajax design & usability, card sorting and web
usability:
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UPA 2010 Conference (Munich, Germany) http://bit.ly/8x9NU

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
gail swanson
Sent: 15 February 2010 1:55 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] UML for UX?

My organization is moving toward UML for all of its documentation,
from requirements through development and maintenance...

17 Feb 2010 - 12:59pm
milan
2005

Have a look at IBM's OVID method. It uses UML to model UX elements
such as tasks, mental objects, views/screens etc. It's old, but has
proven very useful to me to capture complex things, if not applied
too rigidly.

Unfortunately IBM itself took it offline some time ago, but you can
trace it on the web:
http://www-01.ibm.com/software/ucd/books.html
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1120335

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18 Feb 2010 - 4:16am
William Hudson
2009

Milan -

I discuss OVID in the Object Modeling and User Interface Design book I mentioned earlier and update it to use UML notation (Scott Insensee, Dave Roberts and co used one of the earlier OO notations, I forget which).

The OVID book is still available, BTW:

OMUID - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201657899/syntagmltd02
OVID - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1578701015/syntagmltd02

Regards,

William

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