Alpha Cube employs user-centered design approaches to make user interaction with technology simpler. Our goal is to provide solutions that meet the specific needs of your project, while providing the best possible experience to end-users.

  Information Architecture

Information architecture is the structure and navigation of a Web site or Web-based application. A well-designed information architecture provides effective, goal-oriented interactions between users and the Web site or Web application and helps answer questions such as:

  • How will users find information on the site?
  • How many steps will it take to complete a transaction (for first-time and repeat site visits)?
  • How will a user know where they are in a site at all times?
  • Is a site's content just "sitting there," or is it structured to actively drive users toward an end goal?

How It Benefits You

  • Users can quickly understand the structure of your Web site or application. Content categories (taxonomy), navigation structure, and vocabulary (nomenclature) are organized in a way that is intuitive and predictable to users.
  • Users spend less effort finding information they need.
  • Customer satisfaction increases and frustration with the software decreases.
  • Customer retention increases.
  • More users complete their tasks successfully (for example, there are fewer abandoned shopping carts and more completed transactions).
  • At all times, users can easily identify where they are and where they came from within the site.

What We Do

To design an effective information architecture, we first focus on understanding the target user and identifying their goals and tasks that must be supported by the web site or application. For this stage, we use one or more of the following information-gathering activities:

  • Discovery meetings to understand the site or the application goals, branding, and other critical issues.
  • Interview subject-matter experts on your team and/or real application users to understand users' needs and tasks.
  • Goal and task analysis of how various audiences might interact with the system (and identification of ways to streamline that interaction).
  • Create content inventory of the current site.
  • Conduct benchmark usability testing to identify problem areas for users in completing key tasks.

Using this information, we group the site content it into a logical and streamlined organization, using techniques such as card sorting and card-assignment among others. The goal is to organize the site around readily understandable interaction models, with the structure being neither too broad nor too deep, but intuitive and inviting further exploration.

From this site organization, the site's navigation logically follows. Often, multiple navigation paths are provided to support a diversity of audiences and tasks. We also develop labeling systems that provide a strong "scent" for information and invite site exploration. We may also design information on individual pages to facilitate navigational flow by making certain options particularly salient. Finally, we design supplemental navigational systems such as search/browse systems and site maps.


The main deliverable for depicting the information architecture is a site map. Site maps are graphical representation of the site's structure and show the following:

  • the overall content organization
  • primary site navigation
  • secondary and/or tertiary site navigation
  • work flow for "transactional" site areas (e.g., registration or checkout processes on an e-commerce site)

Where necessary, site maps maybe accompanied by sketches of content layouts for important pages on the site such as home page, navigational landing pages, and so forth.

  User Interface Design

At Alpha Cube we believe that an intuitive and easy-to-use interface does not just happen. We follow user-centered design methodologies to create (and improve) usable user interfaces for software, Web sites, Web applications, and mobile devices. We create solutions that communicate effectively through the interface so that some of the knowledge tasks can be delegated to the system... and when that’s done right, the user interface is deemed SIMPLE.

How It Benefits You

  • Users can focus on their goals, rather than being distracted by user interface actions and design elements.
  • Whenever possible, we design instructive interfaces (created to be self-teaching), where users can explore the interface without being penalized.
  • Our team's focus is to minimize or eliminate frictions, which are activities and tasks that users may do which are extraneous to their main goals. Frictions can be a factor for task failures.
  • The user interface is easier to learn and understand, which reduces training time.
  • Improve user satisfaction and make your customers happy.
  • As part of an iterative process, our team can test the user interface with a few users to ensure a high-level of usability.

What We Do

  • The first step to creating usable interfaces is understanding the target users and identifying goals and tasks that must be supported.
  • From this analysis, our team helps develop essential use cases that encapsulate (at a high level) activities users will perform on the site.
  • We give consideration to how navigation should be implemented; possibilities include text link lists, pull-down menus, and icons.
  • We develop a click-through prototype that provides a feel for what information the site or application will contain and how it will behave in terms of structure, navigation, information design, and process flow.
  • We design the final visual aspects of the site (images, icons, buttons, etc.) and deliver comps (image files) or a high-fidelity prototype.


Depending on the needs of your project, our team can deliver one or more of the following:

  • Visual design comps (page layouts) created with Adobe Photoshop that include images, icons, etc. Your team creates HTML code to create the actual pages.
  • A medium-fidelity click-through prototype that includes all HTML (or ASP/JSP/ASP.Net) source, a site-wide style sheet, and the behavioral functions implemented using scripting languages such as JavaScript. There is limited visual look-and-feel and use of graphics.
  • A high-fidelity click-through prototype that includes the final visual design, all graphics, and HTML (or ASP/JSP/ASP.Net) source.
  Interactive Prototyping

What it is

Prototyping is the process of inexpensively modeling design ideas prior to implementing a final product. These prototype models can then be evaluated, changes made rapidly, and the prototype evaluated again, thus informing the design process.

How It Benefits You

Prototyping Web sites and applications prior to application development and final production carry many benefits, among them:

  • Communicating the design effectively to your team.

    A picture is worth a thousand words; an interactive tool, much more than that. A prototype provides a "proof of concept" for the Web site or application; that is, its features and functionality and how they are expressed within the site structure and navigation, information design, and process flow. In short, a prototype informs a client what the system intends to deliver and what it will be like for users to interact with it. With this knowledge, a client and the development team can prioritize feature and function development, as well as make trade offs to the information architecture.

  • Allowing for participatory design.

    Prototypes can also be made available for input from a wide variety of users, client team members, and development team members. For these reasons, prototypes lend themselves to a participatory design process where many key roles have "buy-in" to the nature and behavior of the final software product. In this way, prototyping helps gain timely sign-offs from clients and developers.

  • Catching mistakes early.

    Ideally, prototypes are frequently tested in formal and informal usability sessions throughout their development. This allows for design flaws (e.g., ambiguous labels, intolerance for user errors) to not only be caught early, but also repaired much more cheaply (i.e., as prototype revisions) than within the costly final production and application development stages. Thus, prototyping reduces risk and helps avoid the possibility that the final product becomes merely a prototype for the next release. Testing within usability sessions also assures that you are focusing on issues identified by actual users rather than those raised by the development team.

  • Supporting iterative development.

    Frequent user testing and subsequent prototype revisions can also support an iterative development process. In this way, the Web site or application interface can evolve (through the process of either adding, refining, or removing features and functionality) until it reaches a stable state, at which time the build stages of application development and final production begin.

  • Facilitating detailed requirements gathering.

    As outlined previously, prototypes provide a common ground of understanding between users, client team members, and development team members. Thus, they greatly help in fleshing out requirements, particularly in developing business requirements and use cases. Ideas for what the system should include or how it should function can be quickly worked into the prototype and then, once agreed upon, reflected within formal requirements.

  • Guiding later development stages.

    Once a prototype is developed and approved, it becomes the blueprint, the common communication tool guiding stages of the Web development process. Creative composites (or comps), which model the visual look and feel of a Web site or application, use prototypes to inform navigation and information design. Application developers can use the prototype as a live representation of the use cases (even to the point of using prototype pages as a test front-end to their code) and to understand how the system is intended to interact with users. Similarly, production team members can use the prototype to identify the information layout of each Web site page, as well as the graphics and content that need to be gathered.

What we do

The term "fidelity" refers to how closely a prototype resembles a final product. Prototypes come in different forms ranging from paper sketches (low-fidelity) to high-quality HTML representations (high-fidelity), complete with visual look and feel, graphics, and in many cases, and some back-end functionality.

  • For most projects, Alpha Cube develops medium-fidelity prototypes, which are text-driven interactive tools that communicate the site's information architecture but contain no visual look and feel and few graphics. Their advantage is that they provide a feel for what information the site will contain and how it will behave in terms of structure, navigation, information design, and process flow. But they do not contain specifics about visual look and feel and extensive graphics, which can be a distraction during decision making. Back-end functionality is simulated, so that your team gets a real feel for how the site will behave.
  • For other projects, we deliver a high-fidelity click-through prototype that includes the final visual design, all graphics, and HTML (or ASP/JSP/ASP.Net) source.


Alpha Cube delivers click-through prototypes that include all HTML (or ASP/JSP/ASP.Net) source, a site-wide style sheet, and the behavioral functions implemented using scripting languages such as JavaScript.

  Design Patterns Development

Design patterns address recurring problems in the user interface of a Web site or application. They explicitly focus on a problem within the context of use and guide the designer about when, how and why a solution can be applied. Patterns describe these solutions in a formal way, abstracted from specific examples. Although they embody high-level principles and strategies, design patterns are very practical and describe instances of "good" design.

To address design problems in Web designs, many corporations develop user interface design standards documents or "look-and-feel" guidelines. However, despite good intentions, design guidelines are often too general (not providing enough information to assist in decision making), too specific, or may conflict with one another. Furthermore, their validity or appropriateness always depends on a context, which is often missing limiting its use. We believe that design patterns can complement design guidelines by addressing many of these concerns. Patterns can be used to create better (and consistent) user interface designs and improve usability.

How It Benefits You

Specific benefits your team will gain from using design patterns include:

  • ensuring consistency across your Web site or application.
  • addressing recurring problems on a user interface, implementing similar solutions.
  • promoting reuse of design elements and the code involved in creating them.
  • supporting project requirements specified through use cases, user interface specifications, and interaction design diagrams.
  • making it easy to communicate ideas among team members, especially when patterns are demonstrated through an interactive click-through prototype.
  • applying patterns regardless of the software development methodology used by your team, from waterfall to iterative and agile approaches.
  • improving usability and the time it takes to build and maintain resulting Web sites or applications.
  • complementing "look-and-feel" guidelines or standards documents.

What We Do

We create a collection of design patterns that your developers use when they need to create related objects or functions. For each pattern we include:

  • description of the problem,
  • usability principle the pattern supports,
  • characteristics of the context of use (in terms of the tasks, users, and environment),
  • forces or events which may constrain or suggest a solution,
  • description of the "core" solution (other sub-patterns can be used to solve sub-problems),
  • description of how the pattern actually works, why it works, and why it is good (impact on usability),
  • example showing how the pattern has been successfully used,
  • in some cases, an anti-pattern, or real example when the pattern should have been applied but was not applied.

We find it valuable to create patterns both at the macro and the micro level. Specifically, we identify patterns at the interaction level, the page level, and the site level:

Example: Interaction Pattern Interaction patterns represent the interaction between objects and actions to provide the desired functionality.
Example: Page Pattern Page patterns provide a visual representation of the layout of the user interface elements to be used on a page.
Example: Site Level Pattern Site level patterns provide a representation of different components (or pages) for a Web application.


Although documentation is useful in communicating patterns and their use, we have observed that illustrating pattern use is most effective when demonstrated through an interactive click-through prototype. This is especially the case during the initial stages of development when patterns are being built and refined iteratively. That's why we will provide your team with a collection of page patterns in HTML (or ASP/JSP/ASP.Net) that demonstrate the interaction behavior of specific areas of the Web site or application.

  User Experience Evaluation

Our team evaluates the user experience design of your product (or prototype) to assess how well the design is meeting user goals and established business objectives. The user interface is assessed to identify compliance with recognized usability principles and industry best practices, and areas needing improvement.

How It Benefits You

  • You get results fast because users are not involved in this evaluation.
  • Our team identifies major usability problems and provides you with solutions to fix them.
  • Identify what areas are affected by the problems – specific user tasks (such as login), design elements (such as navigation), etc.
  • Improve user satisfaction.
  • Gain insight about the strengths and weaknesses of your product in comparison with competitors or industry peers.
  • The evaluation can be performed at any stage of your software development cycle.
  • Results can be used immediately or as input for an iterative process.
  • You save time and reduce development costs because design issues are detected early in the development, rather after deployment.

What We Do

Understanding your customers is crucial to evaluating a usable and useful product. After learning about your customers' needs and the particular objectives of the project, our team:

  • examines throughly all aspects of your product's user interface, including screens, functionality and features in the context of tasks
  • identifies, classifies, and ranks usability issues based on their severity and how badly they affect users' experience (for example, is it a cosmetic error or a problem that has to be fixed before the product is released?).
  • creates a report with specific recommendations to change affected areas, as well as recommendations for further research.


A presentation (with associated diagrams) describing solutions to issues encountered, priorities, and suggested remedies for future enhancements. This deliverable will give you a chance to discuss findings with your team.

  Usability Testing

Are your customers getting what they need? Or more importantly, can they use what you offer? You will learn the answers to these and other questions when real (or representative) customers participate in a usability test, using your Web site or application while performing a number of predefined tasks. During the test, our team observes the paths users take to complete tasks, the reasons why users may get confused or frustrated, whether users succeed in doing the task, and how satisfied they are with the experience. The objective is to identify problems that users may encounter so they can be fixed immediately or as part of an interactive process.

Benefits To You

Specific benefits you will gain from improving usability include:

  • Identifying problems early in a representative setting, where your team observes users performing real tasks.
  • Producing designs that are more accurate and with a better quality.
  • Making the user interface more intuitive and easier to use.
  • Increasing customer revenue.
  • Increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Improving customer productivity by increasing efficiency and effectiveness
  • Increasing customer loyalty and retention.
  • Reducing training and support costs.
  • Reducing development and maintenance costs.
  • Making the user interface faster to learn and understand.

What We Do

  • Recruit participants that are representative of your target market (if needed, we can also recruit and test your product with Spanish speaking customers).
  • Develop test scenarios with representative user tasks.
  • Develop satisfaction questionnaires administered after each task ends, and after the test session ends.
  • Facilitate test sessions.
  • Perform usability tests in a variety of environments: at your location (for example, in a conference room), in a fixed laboratory setting, or remotely (at the user's location).


Depending on client needs we:

  • conduct a single usability test and deliver a report with specific recommendations to change affected areas, as well as recommendations for further enhancements. A presentation will give you a chance to discuss findings with your team.
  • conduct "Just-In-Time" usability testing.
    • 2 or 3 design alternatives are prototyped and tested simultaneously to determine the best option.
    • Involves testing small aspects of the application with fewer users for a quick turn-around.
    • Goal is to evaluate qualitative aspects of designs to understand how and why people respond to what has been created.
    • We deliver a less formal document with a summary of usability issues and recommendations for enhancements.
    • Based on the findings, we update the "winning" prototype and, if needed test it with new users.

More information

To learn more about how we can design the information architecture of your company's Web site or application, please write to us or call us directly at +1 303-521-0075.