STEP 4) UNDERSTANDING THE TARGET DEVICES /PLATFORMS – PART 4 OF 4

“Sell this pen to me…” says Jordan Belfort in the movie “Wolf of Wall Street”. Let’s put aside the personality profile of Jordan for the moment, and concentrate on the “selling” aspect.

“Designing a solution is 30% of your job. Communicating and selling your design is 70%” were the wise words of my mentor.

You can be a great designer, doodling in isolation and toying the product with great tools. Your design will never make it to the market if you are not able to showcase your designs with a story.

That’s right. You have to orchestrate your story about the design to your audience – who are willing to guide it, nurture it with their money and resources.

Let’s say that you have quickly sketched out user journeys for key user tasks. You might be working in a agile model of software development. You want to validate the designs created – e.g. iPhone app for banking consumers. There are 3 key tasks in your sketches – view balance, bill payment, add a new credit card.

This is how I would present the paper prototypes to the audience and get their feedback:

1) I will invite all key decision makers & influencers (product manager, development lead, business analysts, system engineers, etc) in a conference room with a 30 minutes time slot.

2) On the soft board, I will pin up paper sketches in a sequence.

3) I will have another design team member, preferably UX researcher – to take the notes of the discussion. It is important that one talks (me) and the other (UX researcher) jots down the points as design inputs.

4) I will summarize what the session is all about to the audience. I will set a context first, when and how the user is going to use the app – what time of day, what place, and what is the trigger point of launching the app.

Since we are talking about a mobile app, I will use specific usage behaviors to weave the story and the sketches – e.g. how users people are motivated to finish a goal, how users prefer shortcuts, how the content takes precedence over navigation in mobile apps, how users’ mind wander 30% of the time, how users make mistakes, etc.

When you cite these examples, it is good to have a workable solution in your sketch. The audience is there to hear you narrate different scenarios they have NOT visualized. As a designer, it’s your job to make them VISUALIZE and give their inputs.

Do not just restrict your presentation to pinned up sketches. Take out the phone from your pocket and show your audience some noteworthy examples. If needed have another photo-essay running that connects the sketches with the user context. You may also compile and get some user research data and quote. Get anything in terms of products / examples / packaging designs / tools / applications that connects with your sketches and triggers the audience’s reaction.

So what do you once you have gathered inputs from your audience?

Tweak. Tinker. Iterate.

Build a story, and sell.

Once you have a feeling that design on paper is great, step into Axure, Adobe Fireworks, Sketch and iRise to create digital wireframes.

That concludes all the segments of how to create paper prototypes. In the following posts, I will share the actual sketches I have designed for some projects.

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