The essence of the Core Model design process is that you focus primarily on the top tasks of your customers. You make sure they can solve their problem, complete their task. You design inside-out, from the task outwards.

Traditionally, most web design focused strongly on the homepage. However, the importance of the homepage has long been in decline. With search and linking, every page is potentially a homepage. The Core Model is about figuring out what people most want to do and then ensuring they can do it quickly and easily.

The Core Model looks at both the organization objectives and the customer tasks and seeks to align them. The perfect task to design for first is the one that is most important to both the organization and the customer. For a hotel that would be booking a room, or for an airline booking a flight.

Part of the Core Model approach is about focusing on what matters and marginalizing or removing what doesn’t. All the content that is minor, that supports low demand, tiny tasks, gets downgraded or removed. You focus on the core, design for the core.

How do customers find the task? How do they search? You think from the customers’ perspective and design that way. You look at the design from the point of view of the problems it will solve. What are its outcomes? What can people do? After people have successfully completed a task what can they do next? What is the next logical step for them?

Are Halland from Netlife Research has been developing the Core Model approach in Norway for a number of years now. (On September 11 he’ll present a free webinar on the subject.) Netlife Research now uses the approach extensively and have developed a number of refinements.

It uses Core Model in conjunction with Mobile First. It helps its clients prioritize even more, to select what truly matters and remove the unnecessary. Netlife take a strongly multidisciplinary approach. People from content, design and technical departments collaborate together to create a design that solves problems. Netlife works hard with the client to bridge silos and have everyone working together around the customer’s top tasks.

Wireframes or sketches are avoided. There is no lorem ipsum text. Instead, they try to get to a design that works as quickly as possible. It involves a strong focus on function and outcome. The success of the design is measured on how it solves problem. The design is active and evolving.

This is all part of a general trend in management and design. There is less and less focus on the inputs (the content, the systems), and more and more focus on the outcomes. Success used to involve launching the new website or app that looked great. Now success is focused on the customer and making sure things work great. How successful is the customer in doing what they need to do quickly and easily? That’s the question we should all judge ourselves by.