Start Smarter with a Concept Diagram

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Concept diagrams are one of the best bang-for-buck deliverables available to today’s UX designer. In its most basic form, a concept diagram uses nouns connected by verbs to describe a system, idea, or application. It can be a sophisticated deliverable or a quick-and-dirty sketch. The technique is not unlike diagramming sentences in elementary school — though it tends to be quite a bit more fun.

This is a fast-paced primer on building better concept diagrams and using them to understand relationships between ideas in new ways. In particular, we’ll examine how to use concept diagrams to represent domain expertise and create a mechanism for transferring knowledge between stakeholders, subject matter experts, and designers.

Learn the simple rules for creating concept diagrams, when you will and won’t want to create one, and what to do with it once you have it. Understand how concept diagrams differ from similar techniques such as affinity diagramming and mindmapping, and when best to apply each in your process.

Variations on this talk have been presented at the 2014 Information Architecture Summit in San Diego, MinneWebCon 2014 at the University of Minnesota, Web 2013 at Penn State, and the 2014 University of Illinois Web Conference.

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Start Smarter with a Concept Diagram

  1. Start Smarter with a Concept Diagram ! This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter
  2. From the film “Ten Bullets” by Tom Sachs http://vimeo.com/34901903
  3. From the film “Ten Bullets” by Tom Sachs http://vimeo.com/34901903
  4. From the film “Ten Bullets” by Tom Sachs http://vimeo.com/34901903
  5. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter There’s nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. - Ansel Adams, photographer
  6. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter
  7. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Clarity is empowering.
  8. When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson Rework p. 44, 2010 @scottrocketship | #startsmarter
  9. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Isness vs. Oughtness
  10. How do we know we’re finished?
  11. Where does this project fit?
  12. It’s a good idea, but is it “us”?
  13. I don’t understand.
  14. Never delegate understanding. - Charles Eames
  15. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Concept Diagrams Defined
  16. Concept Modeling is a results in Concept Diagram(s) Process
  17. Nouns connected by Verbs Concept (noun) Concept (noun) Proposition link (verb)
  18. knowledge is assimilated in the framework of what we already know @scottrocketship | #startsmarter CONSTRUCTIVISM BASICALLY...
  19. Concept Modeling is a results in Concept Diagram(s) Process
  20. Software SystemsBusiness Systems can represent in Concept Diagram(s) SaaS applications iPhone apps e- commerce site MOOC survey tool brand standards marketing campaigns project processes event plans the business itself
  21. “the diagram before the diagram”
  22. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Building Concept Diagrams: A Five-Step Process
  23. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Ask a question.
  24. Novak, J. D. & A. J. Cañas, The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them, Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01 Rev 01-2008, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, 2008
  25. How do we know we’re finished? Where does this project fit? It’s a good idea, but is it “us”?I don’t understand.
  26. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Make a list.
  27. Nouns Verbs
  28. 3 Zones of Assessment on your person immediate surroundings within a short distance
  29. Materials Review Expert Interviews Competitive Research Mindmapping
  30. B.R.E.A.D. browse read edit add delete
  31. Nouns Things you can name. Dog. Love. Pencil. Transaction. David Bowie. Actions. Capture anything that’s unique, interesting, or colorful. Verbs
  32. Tips: • collect collect collect! filter later • don’t start with a blank page • cluster variations • show it around— lists are easy for others to riff on
  33. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Make connections.
  34. Monopoly is Familes play Board game
  35. Tips: • plural nouns make it easier • colorful verbs are great • aim for three or fewer words • stuck? add a bunch of lines, then fill in verbs • leave it messy
  36. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Arrange the pieces.
  37. Photo by Flickr user Jay Malone http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcorduroy/
  38. Tips: • circles are easier when working digitally • 15-25 pieces are a good start • give yourself some space • a bit of grouping is okay, but be open to change
  39. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Refine and test.
  40. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Building Concept Diagrams: Focus Gather ArrangeLink Refine
  41. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Concept diagrams in practice.
  42. A POST Replies Title Body Type Question Feature Topic always has a always has a written by the written by the belongs to exactly one is described with zero or more such as Issue is the anchor for any number of Userchosen by the User chosen by the Categories organized into User which are NOT selected by the Interface that are only part of the Any User written by Body which only have a re es Consumer Products Wolfram Tones Physics Transportation such as which can be browsed and followed the same way as will not (in version one) affect the ? ARTICULATION
  43. A POST Replies Title Body Type Question Feature Topic always has a always has a written by the written by the belongs to exactly one is described with zero or more such as Issue is the anchor for any number of Userchosen by the User chosen by the Categories organized into User which are NOT selected by the Interface that are only part of the Any User written by Body which only have a re es Consumer Products Wolfram Tones Physics Transportation such as which can be browsed and followed the same way as will not (in version one) affect the Groups April 20, 20
  44. COORDINATION
  45. COORDINATION +
  46. brand company CONVERSATION
  47. Website Portal available at idealer.co/ dealername is built by is a Service for that powers Native Mobile Apps for Auto Dealerships used by Dealership Customers De to enh and used to manage Auto Dealers designed for who access brand company
  48. @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Use concept models for yourself. Ultimately, they are the most selfish, introspective, and self- indulgent artifact... - Dan M. Brown Communicating Design, 2nd Edition, p.65 CONVERSATION
  49. DOCUMENTATION
  50. DOCUMENTATION
  51. EVALUATION ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
  52. FACILITATION
  53. FACILITATION
  54. :) @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Thanks. http://kubie.co Search Icon: Gianni Clifford, from The Noun Project List icon by Charlérik Lemieux, from The Noun Project Puzzle icon by Irene Trautluft, from The Noun Project Repeat icon by Greenwave, from The Noun Project Idea exchange icon by Luis Prado, from The Noun Project Question icon by Marc Orro, from The Noun Project Bread by Jon Testa from The Noun Project
  55. ? @scottrocketship | #startsmarter Questions? http://kubie.co Search Icon: Gianni Clifford, from The Noun Project List icon by Charlérik Lemieux, from The Noun Project Puzzle icon by Irene Trautluft, from The Noun Project Repeat icon by Greenwave, from The Noun Project Idea exchange icon by Luis Prado, from The Noun Project Question icon by Marc Orro, from The Noun Project Bread by Jon Testa from The Noun Project

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