UX London: Parti and the Design Sandwich

by Luke Wroblewski June 14, 2009

In my Parti & the Design Sandwich talk at UX London 2009, I outlined a structure to enable interaction designers to move toward a holistic product design in the face of many stakeholders, cross-functional groups, and diverse audiences.

  • Parti & the design sandwich is a structure for projects that allows you to go from concepts to products using the tools of design.
  • Parti (as defined by Matthew Frederick) is the central idea or concept of your project. A parti is expressed as a diagram depicting general structure and experiential & aesthetic sensibility.
  • In interaction design, that means a core interaction model. The inclusion of a core interaction model to represent the big idea is how a parti differs from product vision -though there are many parallels.
  • Getting a parti requires the consideration of factors outside of design such as technology opportunity, market factors, resources, alignment, etc.
  • Parti should focus on the aspects of an interaction that are unique to a project.
  • The whole team needs to buy in to a parti.
  • Parti is a guidepost for designing the many aspects of a project but the design sandwich helps us make informed decisions that bring a parti to life.
  • At the top of the sandwich are design principles. These are filters for making decisions.
  • At the bottom of the sandwich are design considerations. These are the factors you learn about and weigh when considering options.
  • The middle of the sandwich is where decisions about the design happen. Patterns, best practices, and testing -all can help inform decisions.
  • The distinction for me between best practices and patterns is nuanced –a pattern is a way you can do things in a specific context. A best practice is the way you SHOULD do things in a specific context.

Using parti & the design sandwich to structure a project means:

  • Considering all the things that are relevant to a design decision (design considerations).
  • Making use of patterns, best practices, and testing (when we can) to help inform decisions.
  • Evaluating those decisions by passing them through a filter of design principles so that all the decisions we make support the central idea of what we are making.
  • The point of which is to create a holistic design.
  • Your parti can change but don't give up on having a parti for your project.

Update: A listing of live Twitter messages from my presentation at UX London at disambiguity.com