Results for category "UI Prototyping"

Is the PRD Dead??

Although I don’t agree that a PRD is dead, I do agree that wireframes/prototypes are essential. Even in the article they state that a PRD has its place. However I do agree that fast and rapid wireframe prototypes are the way to go to allow you to express and iterate on many designs. Don’t go straight to high fidelity working html prototypes as they will take longer and you won’t be able to explore as many UX ideas.

Here is an article on the creators of Foundation (competitor to bootstrap), expressing their pov on the PRD being dead.


UI Prototypes V.S UI Storyboards – choose carefully

In this post I will share my experience with using UI Prototyping versus using UI Storyboarding. Fist let me start off by saying I think that both types of deliverables have their place.

UI Prototypes: Take longer to create, resulting in less options created and reviewed.

UI Prototypes are great at visualizing more clearly any unique and complex user interactions. In past projects I have used them for this purpose, but I have to say the need for this has been rare. Creating UI Prototypes in my experience always takes longer than UI Mockups or Wireframes put together into a UI Storyboard, allowing more time for creative changes. Also there seemed to be a greater resistance to change the user experience in the prototype because it just took longer which lead to more emotional attachment and less willingness to spend additional effort to explore other options.

UI Storyboards: Can convey more requirements than UI Prototypes

One problem I have always had with UI Prototypes is that it does not walk the reviewer through the user interaction flow. Instead the reviewer must explore and “find” the requirements by hovering, clicking, swiping etc. This can lead to some of the user interaction requirements being missed by the review. The second problem I have with UI Prototyping is that most tools used to create these interactive prototypes are not good at capturing and communicating additional information such as field size, validation rules, security requirements etc, that can easily be added to a UI Storyboard created in tools like PowerPoint. This means you typically need to create a supplemental document that references screen shots from the prototype, which creates additional work keeping the document and the prototype in sync.

UI Prototypes: If you are going to do them, use the dev tools!

I guarantee there are other valid views on this, but my view is that if you are going to go to the effort of creating UI Prototypes, it should be done using the dev tools you will eventually use to create the product. If you are building a web based product then this would be HTML5, CSS3, JS for example. You can create prototypes very quickly in most development tools with visual editors or even if you need to hand-code all of the UI, a good front end developer can create prototypes very quickly. This has the added benefit of kick starting the actual development work, and also positions you well for making changes to the prototype and integrate that with the on-going development work.

UI Prototyping is a very popular trend, but you should think carefully about the investment it requires and its true value compared to the more flexible, less time consuming approach of using UI Storyboards in common products like PowerPoint, which can convey more details about the requirements and not rely on reviewers discovering features hidden within UI Prototypes.


UI Design like a Comedian!

Improv Comedians have a very unique skill of creativity and it got me thinking, is there something about how they approach their work that we could apply to Creative UI Design?

The idea came to me today as I was listening to CBC radio where a comedian was talking about how he approaches improv. He described the process as “putting something out there and then listening to the audience to decide where to take things next based on how they reacted or didn’t react“. It struck me, this is how creative UI Design should be done!

I am not really thinking that we put our UI Designers up on a stage and heckle them (never say never – see below), but the spirit of the rapid ideation, listening and quick response turnaround is something that I do believe really fosters creative thinking about UI Design.

I have seen UI Designers take the opposite approach and from my point of view this truly limits their potential. I recall when I was CTO at another product company and we had hired a UI Design expert, who really did not want to show his work until it was polished and completed. In fact when asked to see it, he would just say….it’s not ready yet. When he did eventually show the work he was so emotionally tied to the idea he came up with, he was extremely defensive about the design and was not really open to other ideas.

Never say never…

Who knows maybe we should have “improv UI design sessions” where you are given a topic (ie. A feature) by the audience and you have let’s say 4 mins to create the design broken up into 30 second intervals. i.e the first 30 seconds you draw something on the whiteboard and the next 30 seconds you get feedback from the audience, and then you have the next 30 seconds to respond, and you keep going for 4 mins. In other words you get 4 iterations on the design.

On a related note…

I have often said and even written about how creating highly interactive UI prototypes is something that should be done later and not as your first step in UI Design, because these Highly Interactive UI Prototypes that have real user interaction behavior and real data etc, take much longer to develop than simple static wireframes with annotations. I also believe that if you are going to go to the effort of creating these highly interactive ui prototypes (ie. Not just static wireframes) then you really should do that in your development toolset and not some prototyping tool, because that way you get reuse of the design in development and you can continue to iterate on it even after your development has started.


Martin Crisp
CEO, PowerStory