Why prototyping beats wireframing.
- You???re making, not documenting. You can feel the thing you???re making.
- You???ve got a thing you can start testing, in all kinds of ways, almost immediately. Prototyping is more like experimenting than describing your grand design.
- It doesn???t have to look good to be effective. It???s easier to keep it rough which helps people give better feedback early on.
- You start out with the barest structure of an idea and gradually build in the detail as you play with and test out the thing you have made.
- You???re learning useful things (like how to better translate your ideas into code).
- Stakeholders and clients get excited about prototypes in a way they never do about wireframes.
- Prototypes are concrete where wireframes are abstract.
- Prototypes create the impression of real progress???of something actually happening???in a way that wire framing never does.
- Prototyping is addictive???you have to pull yourself away from it (rather than forcing yourself to stay in your chair and finish annotating your wireframes).
- Prototyping encourages cross-disciplinary teams from the earliest stages of design. You get to work with smart people who can make your work better.
- If you???re on a project where you feel like you have to wireframe extensively, there???s probably a better way to be doing that project.
Less wireframing, more prototyping.
Title: MIT Creates Amazing UI From Levitating Orbs
Context: When we talk about the future of the UI, let???s stop being so modest in our assumptions.
Synopsis: Some brainbox dude from MIT has built a brain-melting prototype of a tactile 3d user interface using motors, cameras, electromagnets and steel balls. But that???s not what I want to talk about (even though it is super-cool and you should definitely check out the video). No, I want to talk about prototyping. Everyone has great ideas, and unfortunately that???s exactly what they usually remain: ideas. This mostly happens because the effort involved in realizing these ideas are often perceived as insurmountable. The words ???can???t??? and ???impossible??? are often thrown around as justification for leaving a promising notion on the drawing board. And while it may be true that manifesting the actual concept into full-bore reality is not possible, more often than not we can prototype it ??? or at least part of it ??? or at least a simplified version of it ??? or at least a smoke and mirrors rendition of it. Rather than spending a single iota of time thinking about why things cannot be, we would be much better served by building what we can and using that as a stepping stone to making those things of which we dream.
Best Bit: ???I think it is important for all of us to reflect on what our essence is, and discuss what kind of world we would like to live in as a human. Asking ???what if??? questions and prototyping such futures can bring the future a bit closer.???
Title: ABC Nightline – IDEO Shopping Cart
Context: What the redesign process of an everyday object can ??? and probably should ??? look like.
Synopsis: This Nightline special must be over a decade old but it is still relevant from a process perspective. A cross functional team of designers, psychologists, marketing folks, biologists and what-have-you???s bang heads to re-imagine one of life???s most accursed objects: the shopping cart. Never mind about the end product (other than the 90?? shifting wheels, I don???t think too many of these innovations have actually made it into our modern shopping carts), it???s the group dynamics that are interesting here. A level playing field where the strange and unorthodox are embraced while the hierarchical and conformist are given short shrift, proving the axiom, ???the point of a journey is not to arrive???.
Best Bit: ???Enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius.???
Title: Wireframes are dead, long live rapid prototyping
Context: Prototypes may be harder to make, but do they make a UX designer’s job easier in the long run?
Synopsis: As software design becomes more complex and time to market becomes ever quicker with each iteration, the pressure points in the product development lifecycle invariably increases at the UX design stage. While there are many reasons for this, we have to be fair and ask ourselves if part of the pain is be due to our own design processes and documentation practices. Keeping pace with the momentum of a project may require us to streamline our output in order to bridge the gap between ideation and realization with a working explanation in the form of a prototype rather than the traditional explicit instruction of the spec document. Of course this requires we UX designers to be the ones to adapt at the conceptual phase of the product workflow and to think in temporal terms about our output, not just in static pixels. But hey, UX designers showing flexibility to make other people’s lives easier is par for the course, right?
Best Bit: “If wireframes are so flawed what’s the alternative? Simple, the alternative is to bypass wireframes altogether and either go straight from sketch / outline designs to developing working code (in an Agile fashion), or as is more use common use a rapid prototyping tool to create a prototype.”
Also check out this page for a comprehensive list of prototyping tools: http://www.adaptivepath.com/blog/2009/03/24/rapid-prototyping-tools/