UI Design using DAR Models

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User Interface design is a complex discipline with many different tools and techniques. However you get to your design, at some point you need to communicate those design choices to the development team. One model that we’ve found to be very useful in accurately communicating UI design is the display-action-response (DAR) model.

UI Design: UI example
Figure 1 - Screen Design

What is a DAR Model?

A DAR model is a useful tool for precisely documenting the UI elements that appear in screens and how the system responds to user actions. A DAR model combines visual screen layouts with tables that describe the elements on the screen and their behaviors under different conditions. Figure 1 shows a sample page from a website, and Figure 2 shows a corresponding DAR model. The DAR model contains enough details about the screen layout and behavior that a developer can implement it with confidence.

DAR Sample
Figure 2 - DAR Model

When is a DAR Model Helpful?

 It depends on the characteristics of your project.

  • If you are using an outsourced or offshore development team, the DAR model documents your UI requirements clearly and completely, greatly reducing the chances of miscommunication.
  • If you are developing a new product that doesn’t have established UI element behaviors, a DAR model can ensure you’ve thought through the details of how the user will interact with the product.
  • If you are building a product with very complex UI features that need to be carefully designed to ensure proper functioning.
  • If your stakeholders won’t be available to provide feedback through multiple prototyping sessions, then getting the details of the expected UI behavior clearly defined in a DAR model can ensure that their needs are understood and communicated.
  • If you are establishing or updating a UI standards library for your organization to use in order to ensure UI consistency across products, then using the DAR model for your UI design and publishing the model to your standards library can greatly reduce the UI design effort for future projects.

Not every project that includes UI uses DAR models, but we think they can prevent a lot of potential problems and design gaps. Consider giving them a try! If you want to learn more about designing an effective UI, contact us to start a conversation.


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