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Ditch the Printouts, Prototype Instead

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Back in the day, I used to assem­ble my wire­frames and designs into a pre­sen­ta­tion deck, printed it all out, and then reviewed the work with my team/clients. Many design­ers still do this today, and it’s a bad habit devel­oped in the agency world where every­thing is printed out and put up on a board for review. Some folks might not print every­thing out, but they’ll still view the sta­tic screens side-by-side on a com­puter screen. This might work for designs meant for print, but it’s a lousy way of review­ing prod­uct designs meant for devices.

Here’s why.

First, it’s impor­tant to view your designs on the actual device they’re intended for. This puts your work into con­text and in its envi­ron­ment. You get a feel for the tan­gi­ble things that you don’t get with a print or sta­tic screens, for exam­ple, if a but­ton is posi­tioned in a loca­tion where you can’t eas­ily reach it with your thumb, or how scrolling with your fin­ger feels a lot dif­fer­ent than doing it with a mouse on a mon­i­tor. This kind of stuff isn’t vis­i­ble in your designs, but it affects the over­all experience.

Sec­ond, an inter­ac­tive pro­to­type gives you a bet­ter sense of how the expe­ri­ence flows from one screen to another, in both direc­tions. A proto also allows you to expe­ri­ence the tran­si­tions and inter­ac­tions by actu­ally tap­ping on stuff, and see­ing it react. Paper or sta­tic screens don’t offer this feed­back. There have been plenty of times when I’m review­ing wire­frames in Sketch, and every­thing looks and feels great, and then I dis­cover issues in the design when actu­ally view­ing it as a prototype.

Wire­frames and UI designs should be reviewed as a pro­to­type with basic inter­ac­tions, and on the device they were designed for. The time you usu­ally spend assem­bling and print­ing a deck, use it to build a pro­to­type instead. Tools like Invi­sion, Mar­vel, Atomic and Pix­ate allow you to cre­ate func­tion­ing pro­to­types in min­utes. These ser­vices also make it really easy to share your work with your team or client, so every­one can view it and add comments.

Why have a sin­gle sta­tic screen on paper, when you can have your entire user flow, with inter­ac­tions, on an iPhone. You can’t beat it.

 

Textquelle (24.09.2015): http://www.aisleone.net/2015/product-design/ditch-the-printouts-prototype-instead/