21 June, 2008

Sketching in Code: Magic of Prototyping -A List Apart

One of the obvious developments in the web application world that has made prototyping approaches more attractive has been the rise of Ajax and rich internet applications (RIAs).With the rise of Ajax however, wireframes started to come up short. When we leave the world of page-based interactions, how do you document all but the simplest interaction? Even with a single interactive element on a web page, we often have to generate multiple wireframes or use extensive annotation to convey the different possible states. When there are multiple, possibly mutually interacting elements on the same page, the problem is exacerbated. Even when we do manage to convey all the possible states, we lose a sense of timing.

the situation gets worse when we start to consider not just design, but development as well. Development involving Ajax and RIAs requires closer communication between developers and designers, and this communication often has to be iterative. The only way to convey this facet of interactive applications is through an interactive prototype.

Another clear win is in presentations to decision makers. Prototypes can help you sell a decision that is fundamentally or radically different from the client’s current solution or application. The traditional approach is to create a compelling story and a riveting PowerPoint presentation, and spend a day arguing for the wisdom of your approach.

Finally, let’s not forget the users. Just as we, in our role as designers and developers, can’t always foresee the implications of our decisions until we see them played out in front of us, users are governed by the same constraints. Users can request features they “need” only to discover when using the new application that the feature in question was not actually helpful. Putting interactive prototypes in front of users is a great way to get effective and accurate input.

1 comment:

Shalini said...

interesting indeed