User Experience is more than Wireframes and Prototypes

Jun
7
2010

User Stories Analysis

There seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment, within developmental circles to just add a  few wireframes and develop a prototype or two, and then you can declare you are across the user experience design process.

The thing is User Experience is a lot more than just a few simple techniques, it’s an entire collaborative design process, in a way it’s not just a single methodology at all.

This lack of being a single methodology may be part of the issue.

For too long in developmental circles,  the promise of the perfect project was always dangled as the golden prize for simply following a given methodology step by step.  UX does in a way, pull the rug out from under that old school attitude.

Limiting the Scope

It is easy to understand that the adoption of wireframes can aid in design,  and that prototypes assist in the development process and  can act as an additional communication tool.   This is true.

However  when theses techniques are only applied to staged design approach they just capturing the design alternatives, by an iterative  prototyping process.  This is all they do, they don’t provide anything more.

To consider that these techniques alone take into account the entire User Experience design process is just flawed.

If one just applied these two design techniques, then the entire aspect of the “user” can still be very easily  forgotten.

The adding in of new software tool that allows for wireframes and collaborative client signoff  is providing a greater scope than before, but it’s still not UX design.

Wireframes should be tested with the users, as should the prototype. However in reality it’s just too easy to only reference the client and their response to your design.

Remember the Users

One must remember that User Experience is about the experience of the users.

Not the designers, developers or the client.

Yes I know it’s an obvious thing, but sometimes we  forget this in an effort to find a single methodical solution we can trust.

The core of any user experience process is the design with the users, for the users. It’s about the conversation with the users:

  • The collection of the user research.
  • The non bias user testing, with users, without leading scenario presentation and questioning.
  • The interviewing of users, and the collecting of their user stories.
  • The analysis of their previous trails through a web site and general web analytics.
  • The previous experiences and expectations of the users, the mapping of their mental models.

I can understand that championing of the user and business goals, wants, and previous experiences can be  difficult to comes to terms with.

This is especially  true when you are used to the straight forward cycle of business requirements and client input, and a few intrative cycles.

Also the direct involvement with selected users, for a development team maybe difficult. However this is where User Experience professionals can help, as they can bridge that User, Business and Developer gap.

Still the application of the user research and it’s confirmation via user testing is the critical aspect of the entire user experience process. It has to be done.

It’s not a simple matter of plugging in a few new techniques.  You have to consider the user, talk to the user, “be the user”, develop and design with the user in a collaborative effort.  This is the user experience process.

No matter how much we want to avoid it, we have to engage with the users, anything else is not working with the UX design process.

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