Capturing the common “interaction pattern” ensures consistency across all applications and reduces redundant documentation & programming effort.

Definition:  A use case is a series of related interactions between a user and a system that enables the user to achieve a goal.

The Use Case Guideline ensures that similar information is presented consistently and eases redundant documentation.

The Best Practices “standards” document captures the bottom-line operational attributes of the system from a UI perspective.  Much of this behavior can be described as “patterns” that recur again and again.

Use Cases

… often focus on:

  • Important functionality (business perspective)
  • Steps to a goal (user perspective)

They’re sorta like ‘scenarios’, but more technical

Defining a use case effectively is important if you wish to communicate successfully with the implementation team

for Example:

Here’s a couple of  use case interaction patterns that we see regularly throughout our sites.  These are basic, necessary, repeatable functions:

Search by Criteria

  1. Choose search criteria
  2. Run the search
  3. Display the results
  4. Select a result
  5. Preform an action on the result

Edit a Form

  1. Set your context
  2. Fill in the blanks
  3. Save (check validation: Reset, Cancel)

A visual interface is based on visual patterns — Allen Cooper

The wireframe screenshots shown here are from FISA CityTime, a 2004 project to integrate Timesheet and Payroll Management services across 80 New York City agencies with more than 200,000 employees.  A big part of our challenge was to design a standard look & feel for CityTime’s common services across multiple agencies.

Our solutions ensured that information was well-organized, reflected the workflow and was presented in an easily accessible interface.

The Behavioral Use Case simplifies design

Such a Behavioral Use Case (BUC) is “global” in the sense that it is re-used throughout the site.

Laboriously redefining the Behavioral Use Case again and again is inefficient and inconsistent: the BUC should be defined as a unique Use Case.  Once this has been done it can be easily referenced when appropriate.

By identifying and capturing the commonly recurring “patterns” we can reduce the workload, increase effectiveness and ensure consistency.


the Pattern as a Guideline

Describe a commonly used pattern as a guideline by writing a use case for that particular workflow “pattern” of interaction.  The Behavioral Use CaseGuideline demonstrates the “best practices” for writing a use case for a similar pattern of interaction.

The use case guideline that describes a pattern of behavior should always

  • use consistent terminology
  • identify specific, relevant information
  • describe process in a predictable order


Patterns => Best Practices => Intelligent Design


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