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Using Object Maps in Design

Came across this post from Adobe and I’ve been tossing the idea around in my brain for the last few weeks.

Using Object Maps in Design

The core idea is simple, an object map is essentially a visual representation of the relationships between the objects (people, places, and things) that exist in a product.

I really like this as a fundamental step in discovery, prior to any sort of exploration or ideation. The act of creating an object map ensures that you and your team understand the underlying relationship between the elements that you’re exploring.

A great example of this could be a class roster system. When thinking about classes, students, teachers, etc. it can be helpful to break down and understand all of the different objects and their relationships. Some questions that may come up when creating the object map are:

  • Do students belong to classes, or are classes a simple grouping of students?
  • Can a teacher have a list or group of students that are not in a class?
  • We know that students can exist as an object without a teacher, they’re both user types, but is there a requirement to always have some kind of relationship between them?
  • Is the relationship between a teacher and a class nested or linked? Can a class exist without a teacher, or are classes independent objects that are simple “available” to teachers?

There’s no right answer to any of the above questions, it all depends on what the goals of the system you’re creating. Creating an object map allows you to identify these questions, and begin answering them as part of the design process.

It’s easy to jump into Figma and start adjusting or manipulating interfaces based on assumptions, but stepping back and using something like an object map creates space for those assumptions to be tested and validated.

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Adam Sedwick

I work on Design systems and Advocate for Accessibility on the web.



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