Friday, June 22, 2012

Waterfall neither works for User Interface design

For a recent project we hired a design agency to help us create and design an attractive user interface for our users. So after some meetings with our end users, a few weeks of designer magic, the big moment was there, they going to present us ‘THE DESIGN’.

So I entered the meeting full of anticipation, eager to learn about the cool things the designers have created. So after a few PowerPoint slides, we got to see nicely designed and polished screens of our user interface, followed by the obvious question; “And guys, what do you think?”. There wasn’t much we could say, it certainly looked nice and the whole design was finished. But it doesn’t seem there was much room left for discussion or change.

After leaving the meeting, I didn’t feel satisfied. Although the result looked good, something was missing…


Last week at NDC I had to think again about this meeting when I was following the Creating User Experiences: Unlocking the Invisible Cage session by Billy Hollis. In this session he explains that the design agency we hired took a completely wrong approach. By doing all the user meetings first and then creating a finished design(doesn’t this sound like waterfall to you?), users feel it hard to discuss about the core concepts of the application. Instead they discuss about some colors and maybe the position of a button here and there. But they’ll never discuss the concept itself: ‘Is this the correct design for this application?’.

Instead applying Agile techniques to the design process will lead to a far better design and user experience. By first creating multiple very simple, sketchy screen mockups, trying out completely different approaches, you’re giving the users room for discussion. They can talk about what designs they like, what designs they don’t like, why they like/dislike it, and so on. This is far more useful feedback than saying ‘this button should be green instead of red’.  The designer can then take all this input and create a new set of designs applying the concepts the users liked in the first session.

Of course this will probably take some extra time, but we end with the application the user need instead of the application the designer ‘thinks’ the user need.

1 comment:

User Interface Design said...

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User Interface Design