Posts from "September, 2012"

10 Great Prototyping Tips

Too many people think that creating prototypes is a quick fix to ensuring that a final application will be user-friendly, but the truth is that prototyping tools can only take your project so far. To create successful functioning applications, you must first take some basic steps to get the most out of this valuable design process.

1. Know your purpose
Whether you are sketching out paper wireframes or want to create a higher fidelity interactive mockup, you should have a clear mindset of what you want to achieve from prototyping and what the requirements of the application are that you are prototyping.

2. Get your team involved
Prototyping is a process that does not require programming. This means that anyone you think can bring value to your concept should be involved in the creation process. With collaboration, you can get the perspective from different teams, which will help you look at your concept objectively.

3. Communicate
There are so many possibilities nowadays for communicating, wherever your stakeholders are. Make sure that you take advantage of this. With prototyping software, you can comment in the prototypes to show where you want to make changes, or to make things clearer for others.

4. Be critical
It might be that your design doesn’t make the cut. Often you have to balance the needs of the client with those of the user. This can make design a difficult task. Try to be objective when you look at your prototypes. Remember honesty early on in the development process pays off.

5. Experiment
Prototyping is the most cost-effective part of your design process, so take advantage of this. Create multiple wireframes to show your stakeholders. Remember these can be used in A/B testing later. Another advantage is that it can be easier for your stakeholders to articulate what they want when they are given options.

6. Consider your use cases
Too many times people create prototypes without considering the actions and processes of the user. Use cases can be drawn up quickly and often put in a diagram, so you can think about the different functions your users will want to carry out. For more information on use cases, click here.

7. Carry out user testing
Even with use cases, you will often be surprised by how your user responds to your UI. Whether you choose to carry out remote user testing, or watch your user click through the prototype in front of you, it’s invaluable to see how your user interacts with your design.

8. Think of the next step
Remember that your prototype will be used as a blueprint for other designers and programmers. Make sure this is a useful guide for them and be aware of their requirements for the prototype.

9. Document your processes
This is especially important if you are working for a client. A specification document of a prototype is a record that both parties can refer to. This means that if your client demands more features, you can make it clear that this is outside the initial agreement.

10. Don’t throw your wireframes away
Not all wireframes and prototypes should be discarded after a project. You may end up working for the same client again, or want to take ideas from your existing prototypes. Remember, it can be nice to take a basic existing prototype so you don’t have to start with a blank page in your next project.

Do you have any great prototyping tips I have missed? Feel free to comment below.
 

How to Survive as a Project Manager

Being a project manager can be tough. You’re the person who needs to know about all aspects of the product, from its conception and development to sales and customer support. Last week I went to a talk given by Karsten Rieke – former product manager at Xing. From his presentation and the discussion afterwards, I want to share some tips with you for being a successful product manager.

Respect your team
Trust and respect goes a long way. Appreciate that you have a talented team who are experts in their fields and be prepared to listen to what they have to say.

Know your stuff
If you want respect from your colleagues, you will also have to learn how to speak their language- this means knowing your numbers or some key programming concepts. This will help communication and get people to take your suggestions seriously.

Know how others like to work
The slides from the presentation categorize how people in different departments behave and what their work styles are. Not everyone will fit into these stereotypes, but it is worth thinking about how your colleagues work best and how you can fit around that.

Get your team to communicate
At Pidoco we have scrum meetings every day across all of our departments, so that the marketing team knows what the programmers are working on. We also encourage everyone to ask questions, which creates an open atmosphere. It also helps us to see how our individual tasks make up the bigger picture in moving our product forward.

Go outside for inspiration
As product manager, you should be pushing for your product to move forward. Meet with current customers to see how they use your product and how they would be affected by the improvements you have planned. Other people in your industry can also inspire you to try out new things.

Thanks to IxDA Berlin for organizing this event and click on the link below to access the slides.

You can find out more about Karsten Rieke on Xing.