Low fidelity prototypes for learning
Early in the design process, it’s valuable to generate and iterate on ideas quickly. Low-fidelity prototypes are a good tool for this, since they don’t require a lot of time spent on visual polish. They have other benefits as well. Here are some examples from projects I've worked on.
List filter prototype
Axure has a nice feature that I like to use for certain projects that will let you make your prototype look “sketchy” while keeping all the interactivity of a high-fidelity prototype. This isn't the best way to generate ideas quickly, but it does help reassure users that they’re looking at an early concept and not a real product, which sometimes generates more honest feedback.
This project was about applying filters to a list, and then having awareness of which filters had been applied.
Email opt out concept
A simple prototype to test a workflow for email recipients to set their communication preferences. We put it in front of some communications directors to see if they liked the way the options were presented to the user. We also guerilla tested it with coworkers around the office to get a sense for whether the options made sense as presented.
This was built using Sketch and Invision.
High-fidelity prototypes for usability testing
For validating the usability of a near-finished design, it’s best to create a prototype that looks and behaves exactly like the finished product will.
Family data entry
Some of our church customers faced a problem: it was taking a long time for the Sunday school staff to enter data about new families dropping their kids off for the first time. Because the system's child safety features rely on accurate data, it was crucial that staff with minimal training be able to quickly and correctly enter important data about each family. I worked on a design to streamline that entry process.
This prototype was built to test the part of the process that creates relationships between the family members. It features built-in instructions about the scenario to ensure it could be used with minimal facilitation.
Time picker control
This was a component that I designed for inclusion in the SKYUX open-source component library. We wanted to have a time select control that functioned just as simply and naturally as our date select control, and was easy to use on mobile/touch devices.
The prototype, which was designed to be shown on a mobile device, includes three different methods for selecting a time. Users were instructed to select a time with each and when all three were completed, the moderator could click the “Show results” button to display how long each selection took.
You can see the finished version of the component on the Blackbaud developer page.
Documentation for controls and components
When I create documentation about controls and components, it really serves as content for two different audiences. My fellow UX designers want information about the purpose of the component in their designs and guidelines for its use; the developers tasked with building the control want details about the interactions and visual styling.
Here are couple examples of component documentation I built in Axure that use a hybrid approach: an interactive demo to show behavior and more traditional documentation to explain how to style the control and when to use it.
This component confirms deletion of an object with a lightweight inline message that keeps the user in context and doesn't require a disorienting full-screen modal message.
You can see the finished version on the Blackbaud developer page.