Monday, December 18, 2006

"The Power and Problems of Prototyping" - Chris Pelsor

By session 4 on day 3, it definately felt like the conference was easing off. Especially since I'd chosen mainly design-orientated sessions to finish off with.


  • Why prototype - Prototyping gives cheap answers to expensive questions

  • Standard project dilemma - triangle with one of these at the points: fast, cheap, good

    • For each project you only get 2 - you can never have 3

    • Pelsor's Collarary: Reduce the size of elements in your project and you can reduce the discrepancy between these factors

  • Who should prototype? - Ideally a designer and a developer together

  • What is it?

    • Representation of functionality not dependent on words

    • It's a tough one to define

    • Examples

      1. wireframe

      2. mock-up

      3. elemental prototype

      4. fully functional prototype (bad - they've got you to make the final product)

    • Everyone has their own names for these things

    • So most important thing at the start is to "agree on definitions"

  • Create a playbook which is a record of the prototyping and design decisions

  • Cheap and dirty is ok

    • Get it done quick to answer the questions

    • Do it properly later

  • Check out Fuse Generator to do animations

  • Designers and developers have a different goal

    • Designer: create visually unique and beautiful stuff

    • Developer: to do it quickly with no bugs

  • Solving problems: http://www.lettekkendecide.com

  • Asked how many people had been in Agile process and hardly anyone raised their hand

    • Prototyping can be weird in the Agile process

    • But it can receive results

    • But you have to be careful that your prototype code doesn't accidently slip into a release by stealth - this would be very bad!

  • Recommended work-flow:

    • Wireframe

    • Mockup

    • Elemental prototype

    • Test/critique

    • Repeat

  • Most common workflow

    • Mockup/designer sketch

    • Elemental prototype/launch

  • Second workflow can be caused by

    • Delivery pressure

    • Lack of understanding by project owners

  • How to avoid this??

    • Keep banging on that this is not production code

    • Stress long-term value

    • "Remember: cheap answers to expensive questions"!

    • Curb their enthusiasm

    • It doesn't have to be right first time - don't get stressed by it

  • Prototyping helps answer (or at least discover) design questions before the hard work starts

  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) - how to get round in interview?

    • Basic functionality tasks

    • Nothing to do about what we're doing

    • Discovering if they can come up with solutions quickly

      • Process

      • Workflow

      • Problem solving

  • Motion can be the hardest thing to convey between developer and designer

  • At this point a plonker in the audience started raving about his convoluted textField class and how it did so much blah blah.

  • A lot of this is about trust i.e. prototyping

  • Its about getting involved early in the process to root out those inevitable design problems.


1 comment:

Beth said...

Prototyping definitely raises relevant questions in the product development process. I agree that, to some extent, it can predict design problems at an early stage which is outstanding, coz' it can cut production cost for the company.

An important step is to make sure that the prototype has the correct specifications. Verifications are done using stringent mechanisms like the Mitutoyo coordinate measuring machine. Detailed measurements help in perfecting the output. If such devices are in place, the company would not have a problem as worst as product recalls and damages.