Critical Path of UX activities
1 March 2011
Critical Path Method (CPM) is a common method of network project activities that must be completed on time in order for the project to meet its deadline. What are the benefits of this method? In its September 1963 issue, Harvard Business Review addressed the issue:“Recently added to the growing assortment of quantitative tools for business decision making is the Critical Path Method - a powerful but basically simple technique for analyzing, planning, and scheduling large, complex projects.”Since then, this method has established itself firmly in the theory and practice of project management.
In the context of User Experience (UX) activities, the visual representation of a website/application is called a network and consists of list activities and priorities. This visual representation allows each part to be related to the whole, allowing the website/application to be easily understood. It is essential that the priority relationships between the activities involved in the project are clearly defined and identified.To be able to achieve this, it’s always advisable to develop a clearly defined and detailed strategy, organize your thoughts and break the project into stages. Each stage has its specific steps, rules, and principles you need to follow to deliver the positive outcome efficiently.
In order to create the critical path the following questions should be answered:
What action you want your users to take? What you want them to do on your website/application?
What elements you want to display on the website/application?
Triggered by the answers, prioritize elements you wish to view, by visual importance. What’s the most important thing on the site? What’s the second most important? The third; and so on. Use wireframes (basic layout and structural guidelines) to connect the visual representation of a website/application to its information architecture.
Some tips for implementing critical paths in design
To create a great Navigation, the information architecture (IA) and the hierarchy of the website must support it. As the sitemap is developed, strive for “flat navigation,” where the user can access the deepest nested page in the site within one to two clicks.
Use links labels and concepts that are meaningful, understandable, and easily differentiated by users. Users should be able to look at each link and learn something about the link’s destination.
Buttons communicate actions that users can take. Buttons allow users to take actions, and make choices, with a single click. They are typically placed throughout the page interface, and they should be easily findable and identifiable while indicating the action they allow a user to complete.
Icons can be a great addition to design and would strongly recommend using them in context to communicate something. They are easily recognizable and easy to remember.
Forms are extremely useful tools for gathering user information and encouraging interaction on the site.
Prototype - The goal of prototyping is to create a user interface that looks and behaves as if it's been fully implemented. In reality, the prototype will support only specific critical user path but because we ask users to carry out these very tasks they often believe they are working with a real website/application.
Observe users in action
Measuring how successful UX cannot be left until the final website/application is complete and ready for launch. The key to an effective user-friendly site is testing each stage of the path during the design, development and implementation process. User testing is critical to UX activities.User testing means giving one or more users access to a website or prototype and observing how they behave when using it. The purpose of this is to discover problems and gain insights that can be used to improve the final website/application.Of course, in the real world, time and budget limitations will undoubtedly have an impact on how much you can test, but our goal should always be to maximize testing, in whichever way you can.