The core model

On Wednesday, I wrote about using Google Analytics to document design interventions.

Design documentation isn’t just about noting changes after the fact, though. Design documents can be helpful in planning changes, too.

Take a look at this core model worksheet:

Core model worksheet

(Note: I first read about the core model in this article by Ida Aalen in A List Apart in 2015. I encourage you to read that article. It describes the core model process in detail, and shows specific outcomes, such as significant conversion rate improvements for membership drives.)

The core model brings together all kinds of stakeholders — subject matter experts, designers, even customers.

I love the core model because it forces people to separate business goals from user goals. One of the hardest things for employees to accept is that user goals may be different than the organization’s goals. Employees aren’t dumb — it’s just that we all struggle to read the label from inside the bottle.

The core model worksheet also encourages people to think about the user journey. People work together to identify where visitors may be coming from and where they might go after encountering the content in question. Without the core model worksheet, it’s easy to create dead ends for visitors. The exercise forces people to answer questions like:

  • What is the next action for the visitor?

  • What if they don’t complete that action? Where might they like to go next? Where might we want them to go next?

Even if you’re the only person developing content for your company, you can use the core model worksheet to start creating content that focuses on the intersection of business goals and user needs. Do that, and you’re on your way to developing an effective content strategy for your organization.

Thanks for reading,


Kyle Bowen