I recently sent an e-mail to the Information Architecture Institute (Mailing List). I’ve been working on a pro-active project exploring alternative ways to prototype web projects. To quote Tom Wales (Yahoo) – half the documentation we do is “Bullshit”. Bill Buxton (Microsoft) mentioned that we tend to do project documentation just to convince client that the money they are spending on projects are justified by serving up a document that they can’t understand or relate to i.e. “I don’t understand a word!!! These guys must know what they’re talking about”.
I interested in using alternative ways to explain projects to client and internal teams. I want to relay “concept” rather than dictate design or confuse with complicated specifications.
BTW – I took me some time to muster up the courage to send my prototype to the IAI group. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge. I’m happy to report that I received some really helpful feedback from the list and I feel even more motivated to explore this further.
Check out my communication to IAI and my prototype video – I think it explains all.
Designers in the agency I work for tend to get nervous when I attempt to scamp up wireframe models. They perceive what I’m doing as inhibiting their creative license – BUT creativity and pushing the boundaries is something we encourage in our agency all the time.
I’ve been racking my brain about this…
I listened to a podcast with Bill Buxton recently. Just to “disclaim” myself – I have not had a chance to get my hands on his book and might have totally misinterpreted his message. After that I ran across two more podcasts, one with Tom Wales and the later Kevin Cheng, both from Yahoo. I interpreted the shows in my own way based on their inspiring words. Kevin and Tom focus more on the concept side while Bill had a more practical and functional solution BUT the core message from both sides were…. Start DRAWING!
Just a little background…
In my team concept and the BIG idea drive a project. I work closely with the design team and we tend to find and build solutions without the need for wireframes. I will build the relevant taxonomies and work on the strategic elements after that a designer will mock up a look-and-feel based on my verbal brief and the documentation – this is then presented to client.
Designers will mock up all the pages as soon a client sign off on the project specification (and go through several reverts if needed). The mock-ups and a functional specification will then end up on the developers’ desk.
The problem with the initial mock-up stage (1) is that client end up looking at the pretty pictures ignoring all the IA and strategic solutions, and (2) client can’t understand why we take so long to develop our projects especially after we showed them a real-life mock-up of the site in the strategic phase.
So I started drawing…
I’m trying to convince my team manger that we must use Google Maps to serve content for a large development group and thought I’ll explain how I see the mini-project rolling out using my new found drawing skillz.
I put pen-to-paper, snapped the drawings with my little digital camera and popped them into Flash. I’m still working on a mini-document to support the flash component but you’re welcome to check out the result of my experimentation…
Just a few additional observations.
The exercise highlighted some unexpected things like:
- I picked up some logical errors in the process – which I would have completely missed before.
- I had to think about the simple things like when do the user see the “pointer” or the “hand”.
The only negative about using flash was that I had to plan the sequence carefully (maybe that’s actually a positive?). If I had to update the sequence or add elements in the middle of the sequence that might be a headache. I don’t think it’s the platforms’ fault though. I built the sequence directly on the timeline – maybe I could find a more intelligent way to build it.
I love the idea of making the system more interactive, triggering the different elements through user intervention. That’s easy enough, depending on how you implement it.
I don’t want to spend too much time on this process i.e. if it takes longer than the traditional wireframe and documentation process then this concept has lost its appeal.