One concept or several?

How can I determine when something is a single concept, or is actually a composition of multiple concepts? Eg, is Siri a concept? Or is it built out of a series of smaller ones? Are there definitive ways to determine the proper concept unit?

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Welcome to the forum, Akiva! That’s a really important question. In my book, I give a bunch of criteria, but it’s not always an easy question to answer.

You may start out with a single concept and then as you develop it, realize that it’s really multiple concepts composed together. One of the ways you discover this is by noticing parts of the functionality of your concept that appear in other apps, and then you realize that they are really independent concepts.

For example, you might come up with a concept of a Forum (ha!), and include within it the way in which a user who posts something gets an email message when someone else responds to it, but eventually you’d realize there’s a separate concept at play, such as Subscription, in which users get messages when certain events occur that they’ve (explicitly or implicitly) subscribed to. And then you might notice that even this concept is really two concepts, and you can separate out Notification from Subscription. And then you realize that you embedded the notion of email messages inside Notification, so there’s a separate Email concept, and so on. When you’ve been through this process, you have a collection of simple and reusable concepts that are composed together to make your app.

I don’t use Siri enough to know what it’s concepts are. What do you think? At the very least, there’s some question/answer concept; there’s also obviously a speech-to-text concept; and maybe another concept to do with executing actions in behalf of the user?


Re concepts in Siri, to add to the concepts DJ identified:
Between receiving a question and providing an answer, Siri would have to

  • understand or interpret the question (interpretation is a concept)
  • search for the answer (search is a concept).
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