Prototyping for Different Audiences

2 minute read

Background

The power of prototyping cannot be underestimated. I prototype using paper, Invision/Sketch and sometimes using code - it all depends on the audience and the problem at hand. Below you'll find a little more insight into my prototyping methods.

Draft version of a recent high fidelity design

What I did

Process

1. Review business requirements and ask several questions both internally and to users

Product owners/analysts presented me with specific product needs which I'd then question in order to get to grips with the "why" factor. This is the most powerful question type you can ask a stakeholder about a given scenario. Ask a user "why" they do something rather than "how" or "what" they do and you'll get closer to the user's needs and jobs they need to get done. I'd ask these questions per user type and follow up by asking "when" would they do such a task.

Sometimes it would help to draw out a simple storyboard of the events that take place in and around when the user/s were likely to engage with our software.

process image

A typical whiteboard where I'd work out a specific interaction flow for a user type while ensuring business requirements are met.

2. Choose an appropriate prototyping method

A lot of my work is based around prototyping. It's level of fidelity usually depends on the type of people that I'm sharing it with. When sharing internally, I love to paper prototype. I've also done this with users after a testing session. Being part of a small team, I needed to maximise the impact of carrying out user testing.

paper prototype

Example of a 2 step paper prototype that was gradually given more detail and polish over time

The best constructive criticism and ideas usually come at this stage. People are more forthcoming with feedback when they know this is not your finished work. It makes people focus on the efficiency of completing tasks rather than aesthetics. You can also make tons of them in a very short period of time.

3. Adjust and enhance its level of fidelity

We then identified patterns in usage, documented our findings per user type and adjusted the prototypes where necessary. It is very important to acknowledge how different users may perceive your designs. It's not just a case of "some will like and some will not." Different user types will have different goals when engaging with your system. The structure of content and layout may look perfect to one user and be completely irrelevant to another.

Results

What I learned