XXL Iteration Views

March 18th, 2009


Juhan printed out all historical iterations of a single super sized screen. The awesome thing about this perspective is the quick overview one gains of the exploration performed. One can see very rapidly what has been tried, rejected or accepted, and how the design has evolved through the markings. In comparison to the world of programming, developers also have views such as these and in particular they rely on “diff” tools to highlight changes between code revisions.

Speculating here, another thing which comes out from seeing this (at least to me), is the desire of some designers to communicate a degree of completion. It has been noted in a previous post that it is desirable to control the amount of feedback a presented view affords (ex: by using sketchy styles more comments can be generated). Here perhaps the multiple revisions of a design lined up in such a way can give the feeling of greater completion to the viewer, and thus afford less feedback. If someone was to look at this and see a fifth iteration building on top of the past versions, perhaps they’d think twice before asking to shift the header another 10 pixels. This is not to say that affording less feedback in our deliverables is negative. Contrary, sometimes it is perfectly valid to begin shutting voices out. Otherwise, we’d spin our design wheels and wouldn’t move forward.

Here is the real image on flickr, and Juhan writes:

Rani stands next to the 5 iterations of a single screen we designed (and re-designed) over the last 48 hours. We mark up all the prints and show early adopters for feedback.

We’re close enough to roll to stage… and starting using the damn thing.

Every funky pixel, grid, and design jumps out on big prints.
Print big or get out!

Credits: Juhan Sonin

Seeking Participants for User Testing

March 17th, 2009

I’m planning to do some user testing of fluidia.org this week, and wanted to ask if there were some interested participants in the Toronto area. I promise it will not hurt, it will only take up to one hour, and I can come over with all the equipment. Ideally I would like to run the test this Thursday or Friday. Please email me (email is listed in the right hand column) if you’re up for supporting a little open source IA project. :) Thanks. Jakub

Bubble Frames

March 16th, 2009


Bubble Frames – crudely rounded content areas with labels. Perhaps a merger of sorts between Rough Interface Sketching and Generic Content Labels. Chris explains it best:

Whenever I start a new web project, I want to conceptualize, and fast. Ideas seem to flow at a rapid pace in short intervals, making it hard to capture everything. I’m a huge proponent of rapid prototyping. I want to take as many of those ideas as I can, build a quick prototype, take a step back and then carefully analyze everything.

The best ideas are born in those critical few moments that you rapid prototype. And over time, those ideas can be melded into something that is truly incredible.

A tool that I use as part of my rapid prototyping process is what I call “bubble frames.” It sounds kind of stupid, I know. And it might not be all that unique. It’s really a mesh of things I’ve seen and read. But I thought I’d share it anyway to those who need some inspiration for their own rapid prototyping exercises.

The bubble frame is a watered down version of a wireframe. Instead of constructing exact boxes and labels as a skeleton for the web site, I use quickly drawn circles to represent what types of information will go where. I vary the size of these circles to represent the importance of the information they will contain.

Credits: Chris LeCompte

Sticky Note Pulldown Menus

March 13th, 2009


While sketching a user interface with the client, in this example popup overlays or pulldown menus have been drawn up using sticky notes. This technique has been around for a while (as probably seen in a lot of paper prototyping sessions) since it makes perfect common sense. Sticky popups stand out from the background noticeably and also can be easily removed and reattached as desired, which makes them ideal as a solution.

Credits: Hans Nieuwenburg

Content Sitemaps

March 11th, 2009


While still in a highly conceptual mode of thought during site mapping, already rough ideas begin to emerge as to how particular pages will look like or what they might contain. Often these ideas go beyond a simple one word page label. Here is an example which captures such ideas textually in more detail. This interesting view combines structural page representations with textual content descriptions – a merger of sorts between a site map and a content inventory.

Credits: Lewis Litanzios

UML State Charts

March 9th, 2009


Here is an interesting way of approaching state changes using UML notation, and more specifically state charting. Perhaps the learning curve of documenting such technical interactions is not the lowest. However, once the team agrees on using such an advanced notation system, the represented interactions and state changes can be explored with greater accuracy and detail. Some interesting symbols include: loops which imply refreshes; brackets which suggest conditionals; forward slashes which suggest system actions; and larger rounded area containers representing nested states which are always accessible.

Yohan also sent me two interesting UML references. One simpler PDF reference explains very well the notation used in the above example, and a second extended reference explains additional UML diagramming notations.

Credits: Yohan Creemers

Tracing Paper Layers

March 6th, 2009


Here is an interesting technique which uses multiple pieces of tracing paper combined with sketching and scanning. It kind of reminds me of Photoshop layers except these exist in the real world. First, Jennifer drew various interface elements separate from each other on tracing paper and overlaid them together to form full page screens. These various combinations were later on also digitized using a scanner and then shared with others.

This technique shares some similarities in terms of flexibility with sticky frames. Just as with stickies, the designer can undo and rearrange elements very flexibly. Also, similarly to the sticky frame example where the designer used photography in order to reuse the various elements (and speed up the design process), here a scanner performed the same function. Tracing paper however has an additional characteristic of allowing to represent interesting transparency effects as is visible in the top right example suggesting an overlaying lightbox image. Tracing paper perhaps also affords a little bit more change and rearranging than sticky notes. All in all, such awesome tactics provide us with more speed and agility.

Jennifer writes:

We’ve also found that sometimes taking your design out of the computer screen forces your audience to focus on the concept rather than the execution, which is very helpful if your audience gets hung up on colors and buttons and the like. Frankly, it’s helpful to everyone involved: good design, I feel, serves the content, and all the flashy Flash/AJAX/JQuery what-have-you won’t save a poor design. I also believe that while good web design does not translate into good book design, etc., every designer should learn to use paper and pencil. Like the codex, it’s worked for 500 years; it’s not going anywhere soon.

Credits: Jennifer L. Anderson

Wireframe-Sketch Hybrid

March 4th, 2009


Sometimes the designer wishes to focus feedback and discussion only to certain areas of the interface. Knowingly that firmer and more defined styles suggest completion, while empty spaces and sketch styles invite discussion, the designer here has utilized this knowledge to channel feedback. This sample is a hybrid between a wireframe and a sketch. It has been started off using the computer and then printed out, while leaving a central area blank for sketching with the stakeholders. This interesting combination suggests to the stakeholders very clearly that the computer based areas are more defined and less open to feedback while the empty and sketchy areas are in need of refinement and more open to input.

Credits: Hans Nieuwenburg

FluidIA Sketches Are Up

March 3rd, 2009

As the fluidIA side project is rolling forward, I thought to drop a quick announcement here that some interface sketches about how the new prototyping tool could work, have been posted today. I am doing some quick design this week, followed by some development next week. So if you feel like sketching additional or alternative ideas, feel free to send them over to me and I could post them up as well. If sketching is too much, I’m also open to feedback through commenting (on the fluidia.org site) or by email. Cheers. Jakub

Computer Based Sketchy Wireframes

March 2nd, 2009


Jumping over to the computer does not necessarily mean that the wireframe ought to look rigid and clean, suggesting a higher degree of completion. Occasionally, the designer still feels the need to communicate the interface with a style which invites change by suggesting incompletion. One way of doing this is by means of a more sketchy style. Here is a sample of Hans using Visio loaded with a sketchy stencil designed by Niklas Wolkert. Jonathan Abbett has later on revised the stencil here.

Credits: Hans Nieuwenburg