Developing a comprehensive workflow in user interface design not only provides the backbone of the design, it also improves communication and expectation across the product development team. If not done or not done well, the lack of workflow can result in a costly design process and seemingly endless design loops that never fully optimize the user interface. But what does a comprehensive workflow look like and what does it include? At HS Design, the workflow establishes the control layout and steps required in order for a user to achieve their goals in the use of the device being designed. It establishes every step the user must take and the possible navigational pathways to get there. It also includes a description of informational displays, the potential errors that could occur and the path to resolution. The design process of developing a comprehensive workflow includes a visual mapping of the user interface using symbols and descriptors then increasing fidelity to include screen designs. Eventually all screens can be designed in the workflow thus providing a basis for prototyping and ultimately communicating the design intent to software engineers. The figure below is an example.
Undoubtedly there is a direct tie between the UI/UX design and the practice of human factors; a workflow is the visual counterpart to a task analysis. Equal to communication between the UI/UX designers and software, so too is the communication with human factors. Collaboratively building a workflow with a cross-disciplinary team yields the best result in optimizing screen design for usability as well as getting a jump start on required documentation. Designing the workflow is fundamental as the starting place in determining the information architecture. In medical devices, this can range from the controlling of specific hardware to patient monitoring informational displays to the tracking of required clinical tasks in the process of measuring adherence. The development of a workflow might start as a list of activities a user needs to do and then branch from there in determining what the device is required to do because of user input. In essence, the information architecture responds to human input to determine device output. The workflow purposefully delineates each step in detail. Once completed, design elements such as the use of typography, language, color, imagery, trend/discrete value mapping, icons, etc. can be determined. At HSD, workflows are the holy grail of UI/UX design. It reduces costs in development, improves communication with our clients, and assures an optimized workflow for improved usability.