Rapid Paper Prototyping
If one wants to save cost and distress when designing a web-project, he should consider using a method called ‘Rapid Paper Prototyping’.
pidoco° uses the web-based prototyping software solution which not only promises saving time but also aims to create better usability and creative concepts for the Internet, Web-Portal and E-Commerce website sectors.
The ‘Rapid Paper Prototyping’ method has already been established as THE way to get a web-application started. The basic concepts of the layout will be put on paper and discussed within the team. This prototype will then be used by the experts and put through a refinement process by implementing the gathered feedback from the different decision makers and of the needed functionalities. This paper-built prototype will be the stepping stone and act as a guide for the whole project – until it is finished.
Some screen-designers use hand-drawn imagery for running usability tests which can already reveal certain problems before starting the actual programming of the project. By using this method, companies often save valuable time and money and do not need to make a lot of changes to their intitial plans.
However, there are some drawbacks to ‘Rapid Paper Prototyping‘. They are difficult to add to the project documentation and also difficult to share between the different team-members. That is why many companies see the need for creating their prototypes directly in MS PowerPoint or MS Visio and have them distributed to the relevant sources. Yes, that way one can share the data more effectively but is not much more interactive than making copies of that piece of paper and handing it to the team. The prototypes still do not show the real functionality and therfore outlines yet another major drawback to ‘Rapid Paper Prototyping’; links, dynamic menus and work-flow can not be reproduced effectively and need to be explained individually. Again, more time and effort has to be invested..
pidoco° has spotted this problem and made it their duty to tackle this problem by providing a solution for such scenarios in form of a prototyping tool. The Berlin-based firm developes a complete usability suite which ties in with the outlined scenarios of ‘concept vs implementation‘.
The pidoco° usability suite consists of three main elements which work in conjunction with each other. They speed up the web-production and optimize the general workflow.
Clickable prototypes are quickly drafted through the drag ‘n drop capabilities of the ‘Prototype Creator’ and which later can easily be reviewd in the ‘Prototype Reviewer’ by other team-members. If there is a need for even more in-depth feedback on individual aspects of the prototype, the solution is to make use of the ‘Remote Usability Tester’. It will surely satisfy the most detailed questions which could arise, since it offers live, one-on-one phone conversations with additional mouse-tracking features. Those features increase productivity and ease communication between the team and they are also easily accessible through a browser window – no installation of any kind is necessary!
Rapid Paper Prototyping in the Web
The ‘Prototype Creator‘ offers many drag ‘n drop interface building blocks (radio buttons, frames, combo-boxes etc..) which can create a complete web or software interface within minutes. There is no need for previous programming knowledge since all the linking and other functionalities are already in place. The only thing one has to do is to connect the elements via the mouse and they are ready to go! This way, the designer can conceive the complete click-patterns of the end-user and evaluate the gathered performance ratios.
Even if screen designs have been made in (eg. Photoshop), pidoco°’s usability suite can be put to use in very effective ways. Ready made screenshots, menu bars and animated gif’s can be easily imported and added to the wireframe outline. This way, making a perfect composition of real-life graphic design and pidoco°wireframe usability is done in just a few minutes. No matter if it’s just a basic wireframe or fully fletched GUI prototyping, all the prototypes created with pidoco° can be shared and reviewed by the relevant members via an invite function found in pidoco°’s repository.
Reviewing the Ready-Made Prototype
By making use of the invite function the designer can get valuable feedback from team-members and discuss the prototype’s functionality. The ‘Prototype Creator‘ can send an invitation link via email to one or more people via a simple mouse click and can also decide whether the invited will be able to simply see, review or even be able to modify the wireframe. The invited will simply receive an instant email with a link to the prototype and can view it as if he was visiting a normal website on the www. He can then use the review function and per drag ‘n drop and point to the specific elements which he wants to comment on. All comments can be viewed by the other party which can be then used for further discussion. The huge advantage: since all comments are recorded and point to the specific elements in question, communication is made more efficient. Also, all decision-making can easily be understood and reconstructed even after a prolonged period of time!
Putting the comments and discussion points into one communication hub, the administration of the gathered feedback is made simple and effective. By exporting the prototypes to different formats (HTML, SVG, CSV) it is then possible to re-use the gathered information on other platforms.
Remote Usability Testing
If you need even more in-depth feedback on the wireframe usability of your web project, you may well want to make use of the ‘Remote Usability Tester’. Its capabilities will ensure future success to your project since it has certain review elements which can test your prototype in several very effective ways:
With the ‘Remote Usability Tester’ it is possible to test the prototype with a proband which can be as far away as India or Peru. Both will be connected via a live telephone connection and a shared screen. The moderator can then ask the proband to make use or solve specific tasks with the prototype and can view via the mouse-tracking module how the different tasks are being executed. Image and sound of the test session is recorded and stored , which gives the possibility to fully evaluate the test session at any later point in time. Thereby, iterative conception is possible before starting to hard code the project in itself!
Prototyping and Usability Testing: All-in-One!
Overall, pidoco° offers an all-round software solution which can be deployed in all kinds of conceptual and practical areas. It speeds up the overall production time and facilitates easy communication and access on a global scale. Website usability testing is made easier than ever before and the pidoco° prototyping tool certainly has the potential to improve your prototype applications whilst helping you to gain better feedback from users and developers alike.