Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Interaction Guidelines

What is an interaction guideline?

Interaction guideline is a document that captures the behavior of an interface. This includes all tiny and minute details for all sort of controls (buttons, dropdowns, links, etc.) that a developer will require to design with perfection.

Why do we need an interaction guideline document?

Use cases primarily captures business flow. However, in this project BAs are capturing screen flows and are writing screen field properties too. Since, the screens were designed by UX folks and not BAs, obviously we know better about the screens than anybody else. After all, prototype is our baby.

Things like dynamic panels - when to display and where to display; when to display a value as a drop down and when as text; what is the meaning of secondary sort, whether the sort is forward and reverse both; when an element becomes a link and when it is text?

For e.g. Number of Share is a numeric link but when the value becomes zero and there is no number to be displayed, display as text.

For e.g. What if the address of the user is not on file, how the information will be displayed there?

There are many such instances that will go unnoticed and undocumented, if we did not create interaction guidelines.

Who are the intended audience?

All team members reading the usecases and designing the system are intended audience.

Myth: We can do everything with the usecase

We went with the same myth in one of our projects and stumbled upon. UX team were asked to create interaction guidelines at the very last minute. Hope you guys do no repeat history and learn from mistakes. By the way, I do not churn pages and pages of interaction guidelines for fun :)

Of course, I have better ways to pass my time.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Design Myths!

Many people talk about design without knowing what exactly it is. These so called designers think that knowing photoshop, Axure or iRise is doing design. How wrong they are...

Design is a creative and collaborative process. It starts with the generation of ideas through brainstorming. Then, you sift these ideas to find the best among them. Then, you work on these ideas to generate concepts. Later, these concepts are tried and tested many times with real users until the concepts shape up in meaningful and usable designs. This process is repeated many times, therefore, the process of design is iterative. Jumping to prototyping without going through the design process is both fatal and futile.

You will be surprised to hear this but a successful design is done by the user, with the user, for the user. The role of the designer is just to facilitate the design process. Also, as a designer one should not forget that the product "must" meet client's strategic goals too, otherwise, it will be a business failure. Balancing both client and user's needs is very critical for a good designer. One wrong move and the design is doomed.

Design is fun. It is an intrinsic part of life. Enjoy every second of it.
Here are some of the examples that are the outcome of the design process through meetings, discussions, JAD sessions, focus groups or whatever you want to call it. I call it brainstorming.