PUX Explorer

University of Cambridge 2024

Brief Description

PUX Explorer is a meta-design tool for UI designers and visual language creators, derived from the Blackwell's Patterns of UX (PUX) framework, which uses recurring design solutions focusing on user activities, experiences, and trade-offs.

This project presents the PUX Explorer, along with PUX Matrix and PUX Personas tools, that build on critical frameworks for notation design, informed by a general theory of design ideation.

Icons Sample

More information

Introduction to PUX

The PUX framework provides a structured approach to notation design by focusing on user activities, experiences, and the trade-offs involved in making design decisions. The framework supports designers in creating user-centric notation systems by systematically exploring and prioritising different aspects of user interaction and experience.

PUX Explorer Deconstructed

PUX Explorer

PUX Explorer provides an interactive diagram for designers to explore and prioritise user experiences and activities in notation systems. It offers a dynamic interface that helps avoid design fixation by encouraging the exploration of alternative solutions and trade-offs.

PUX Matrix complements the Explorer by providing a detailed, systematic overview of the relationships between various activities and experiences. The Matrix offers a structured, grid-based representation that highlights the interconnectedness and trade-offs between different design choices. Although it is less interactive than the Explorer, the Matrix serves as a quick reference tool for designers who are familiar with the PUX framework, enabling efficient navigation and comparison of design elements.

Icons Sample

Creating Mnemonic Icons

The PUX Explorer tool features unique icons for each experience and distinct colour coding for activities to ensure clear visual differentiation. The process of creating these mnemonic icons involved generating design ideas using a large language model (LLM), refining the concepts, and finalising the designs with a consistent visual style.

Initially, the PUX descriptions of each experience were input into an LLM to create three different design concepts for an icon. These concepts were used as prompts for a Stable Diffusion (SD) model with uniform style descriptors to generate the icons. The design team then selected the most appropriate icon for each experience, refined the selected designs, and integrated them into the PUX Explorer tool.

Creating Mnemonic Icons

PUX Personas

PUX Personas assist in long-term design projects by creating user profiles based on activities and experiences. This tool helps in understanding the diverse needs of users, ensuring that the design decisions are well-informed and user-centric.

PUX Personas

Evaluation and Results

A controlled study was conducted with six specialist music notation researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of PUX Explorer and PUX Matrix. The study demonstrated that PUX Explorer is accessible to meta-designers without extensive technical expertise and is effective in uncovering new design insights and confirming existing issues. The PUX Explorer's dynamic, interactive interface was preferred for its engaging experience, while the PUX Matrix served as a valuable quick reference tool. The PUX Personas tool was highlighted for its ability to create detailed user profiles, aiding in user-centric design decisions.

Evaluation Results


The PUX Explorer, along with the PUX Matrix and PUX Personas, provides a comprehensive set of meta-design tools for notation designers. These tools build on critical frameworks and offer a structured approach to exploring and prioritising user experiences and activities. The project demonstrates the potential of interactive design tools in enhancing the meta-design process, making it accessible and effective for designers without requiring specialist technical expertise.

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