Top 3 Talks at UX Conference “Make Stuff That Works”: Part 2

“Using the Core Model to Make Stuff That Works” by Martha Lyngnes

The second talk in my list of top 3 talks was given by one of NetLife Research’s own interaction designer, Martha Lyngnes. She gave a great introduction on how to use the UX design method called the Core model.

FACT: Users are decreasingly entering a site’s page from its homepage!

It’s undeniable that nowadays, users will usually find a page by searching through Google, click on a link from Facebook, or whatever other way they can find to navigate to the page they deem relevant. As Martha kindly pointed out, 99% of pages on your site are irrelevant to the user!

Martha Lyngnes

Martha Lyngnes giving her talk

The Core model:

  • Identifies Core pages, where your users solve their tasks and the company reaches their objectives
  • Uses paths, not hierarchies
  • Has no dead ends
  • Allows stakeholders to get involved

Traditionally, organizations would start designing their site in a hierarchical manner (i.e. most important department/information on the homepage, etc), usually reflecting their organizational structure. This means that the business goals of the company is usually right up there, front and center (vision statements anyone?), but unfortunately for them, it is very likely that business goals does not equal user goals.

The Core model encourages organizations to have a more beneficial attitude toward users, asking the question: what are the goals of the user, and where can we send the user after they solve their problem?

It comes as no surprise that the Core model focuses on two key components:

  1. Business goals: What does the company want to achieve?
  2. User tasks: What task is the user trying to complete?What information is the user trying to obtain? (found through research and prioritization, of course!)

Once these two components have been defined, the company can identify the Core pages – where the business goals and user tasks overlap:

Core workshop

A great way to use the Core model is by running a Core workshop to identify:

  1. Core pages: Business goals + user tasks
  2. Inward paths: How do the users get to the page?
  3. Core content: The information to complete both the business goals and the user tasks
  4. Forward paths: After the user has met his/her task, where does the business want to send the user in the context of user tasks?
  5. The prioritization of Core elements using Mobile-First thinking: If the user only has a small screen available, how would the content be organized?

Worksheet for steps 1-4

Worksheet for step 5

Find another great example on how to use these sheets in the workshop here.


The workshop is an easy, low-tech way to get stakeholders from different areas of expertise to buy-in and participate in the re-design.

It is important to start with mobile first before the full-version site since users will do anything from their mobile site and the core activities is the same on all devices.

Did you guess what gets designed last? That’s right – it’s the homepage. In addition, as it so happens to be, the Core pages tend to end up as being the navigation menu on the site!

Google’s Richard Gingras has argued that shifts in audience flow mean that we ought to be reconsidering “the very definition of a website,” and the possibility that it’s time to put “dramatically more focus on the story page” rather than the homepage.*

In summary, to make stuff that works:

  • Identify objectives and user tasks first
  • Start with the core pages
  • Get rid of dead ends
  • Be creative about your “forward” paths
  • Home page last, not first!

Stay tuned to find out the last of my favorite talks! Hint: it includes kittens.

To find out more about the Core model, check out this awesome post by Ida Aalen.

*Quote from: Coming in the side door: The value of homepages is shifting from traffic-driver to brand

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