Sketching & prototyping: are we losing time and money?
All problems are because of misunderstanding. And every mistake in the development process is really expensive. We asked in the title: are we losing time and money while creating a detailed clickable prototype?
A mistake is to commit a misunderstanding. - Bob Dylan
So if you are lazy to read the full article we can answer you right now - no, we are losing time and money in case of skipping a prototype process. A lot of our customers are asking - is it really a “must have”? Can we skip it? Can we start designing? Take my money and give me my pixel perfect .psd file! Yeah! We know that your goal is to save time and money and to get the perfect result in as short terms as possible. In fact, the development process can start from a sketch on the napkin. But if it goes about user experience, if it goes about some client-oriented and user-friendly interface - do not skip a prototyping.
How prototyping can help us to create a high-quality project?A prototype can give us a pure understanding how the project will perform to a user. But the main thing is that prototype can show us what is unnecessary in our project. If you are working on a product that will have a lot of interactions, effects, current changes - prototype can save your life. It is much more faster to make changes in prototype, test it and rework with updated ideas, than to rework all pixel perfect .psd files. A prototype is flexible, easy to change and always valuable for all your team. Without prototype teammates will ask you a lot of questions like which interactions, in which case it performs like that, which condition of cursor while we are on this element and so on, and so on.. it can go further. Worseof all if your team is working in different countries and you are not their neighbour in office. Also if there is a time difference - it is becoming harder and harder to communicate and make a fast deal about details of interactions. Sure if you are professionals and your mates are close to you in the same office it is not a problem to make everyday stand-up to talk about all this stuff, but your stakeholders are not technical people. In many cases, they have no idea how it works. And here we are - prototype makes all your ideas and conceptions alive. Indeed, this is magic.
Preparation for prototyping
Recommendations for interface sketching
- Every page should have few versions. Continue to sketch and try to make it as clear as possible with all necessary functionality.
- Do not pay attention to details. Easier said than done. Designers are always saying: there are no details in design because every pixel matters and all is a detail. But if it goes about colors or fonts - leave it, functionality is the first.
- Try to change locations of elements. Every second sketch should have a conceptual difference. Change a shape of element, size, form. Change the position. Make something that is unusual in the industry that your client’s product is from. Very often we can find a solution in the place that we had no idea about. Do the same with your elements. Turn it all wrong, shake it, put it together, then relocate one more time. It seems stupid but how can you know when you will find a solution
- Keep in mind the idea of purity. Space on a screen should give to your respondent some air to breathe. The user should have a pleasant feeling while he is launching some goal. Think about movement of his eyes on a screen. Just try to put yourself in his shoes. If your eyes are running from one corner of a screen to another - it means that your future user will likely forget about launching some deal. He will get a new job - to understand and to remember where the hell was a sign up or what this strange icon will do if I`ll click on it. The user should feel comfortable with his thoughts about elements. Absolutely true that good design is when you do not see any design.
- A sketch is just a sketch. Do not let yourself fall into uncontrolled abstract artistic rabbit hole. Your sketch can be really beautiful and nice but the sketch is for future prototype and prototype is for future design. And the design is for high quality of development workflow. Our mission is to define good seeds from unnecessary rubbish.
Every change encourages us to clean a paper with a rubber. And be sure it is much more easier than to delete a few groups with a lot of layers. Also, sketching can help you to avoid unnecessary interactions. As a stage before prototyping, it is really useful for the development process.
Prototyping is an implementation of basic functionality for the analysis of the system as a whole. At the stage of prototyping with small efforts, we create a working system or minimum valuable product.
Experience of development can provide us with all possible information that we need to launch the idea and create a good product. Yes, prototyping is not necessary. Yes, we can skip it. Yes, we can jump into the development process with a hope that:
- Bridge is not so high
- Somebody will catch us
- Dudes before us have jumped and survived so we will do the same.
- Maybe this is just a nightmare and it will finish soon.
As you see, the overall picture is not so joyful. In fact, prototype is our insurance. It is a guarantee that development process will be more solid.
Recommendations for creating a clickable prototype
1). Fabricio Teixeira.Storyframes before wireframes.more info here: https://uxdesign.cc/storyframes-before-wireframes-starting-designs-in-the-text-editor-ec69db78e6e4