Design Glossary

The Glossary contains definitions for terms related to User Experience as they are used within the Fluid Project.

Component Progress Definitions

Future: The feature is planned, but has not yet undergone design.

In Design: The feature is currently undergoing design, and has not yet entered development.

In Development: The feature is currently undergoing development; does not completely conform to specification.

Stable: The feature performs to specification, and has undergone Usability, Accessibility, and QA testing.

User Experience Definitions

Contextual Inquiry:

Contextual inquiry is a cross between interviews and observation and combines the strengths of both. In a contextual inquiry, the interviewer goes to the user and interviews them where they do their work.

Context of Use: Contexts in which Fluid components may live. Contexts are applications, tools, and workflows we need to think through in order to understand the user experience of our components as integrated.


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Design Pattern: A proven solution to a common problem in a specified context.

Personas: "A persona is a user archetype you can use to help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions, and even visual design." (Kim Goodwin,

Storyboard: A visual and textual story describing interaction through a system.  Storyboards are walkthroughs of the behavior of each major interaction of an activity.   They are also key to the Fluid design process in helping us understand the user experience of components in various contexts.  We create storyboards for several "contexts of use" identified for the components.  The Fluid storyboards typically cover more than the behavior of the component (what happens leading up to the use and after the use of the component) since it is important for us to understand the entire context and experience a user will have with a component.  You can also think of them as serving as a lightweight specification.

Storycard: A description, in story form, of a requirement (or requirements) for components.  The design team writes them to describe implementation to the development team.  They typically have storyboards or wireframes that go along with them as the visual representation of the requirements interaction.

Usability: "Usability means that the people that who use the product can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their own tasks." (A Practical Guide to Usabilty Testing, J. Dumas and J. Redish, p. 4)

User Testing: User testing, also sometimes referred to as usability testing, is a technique for evaluating usability, working with an actual or potential user of a product or system.

UX Walkthroughs: User Experience Walkthroughs; a Fluid-created product evaluation method based on best practices in heuristic evaluation, cognitive walkthroughs and accessibility evaluations.