Iterative process and the need for play making in design

Traci Lepore has just written her article Putting Together a Production: A Rehearsal Strategy for Design for UX Matters. Intelligently, in a captivating and easy to follow manner she likens design iterations and the need for an iterative process to her own personal accounts of being an actress. She has to learn the lines while getting over her own shyness and discomforts in order to work through the initial stages of what is required of her. Soon the shyness disappears and the acting refined over several iterations. The iterations are play making, trying out new ideas and discarding those that fail. This creative space for trial and error is essential to the refinement of the final play. This cycle, as she depicts through flow diagrams, is a helical process rather than linear. The steps in taking on board what is required, learning the script and refinement of acting are completed over several iterations, it is then up to the director and audience to judge.

Too often project scope constrains a linear process on web design. Qualitative and quantitive market research results are outputted to persona creation. Persona creation in turn output to user journeys and flows. User journeys and flows develop site maps and wireframes. Wireframes become prototypes and design scamps. Before we know it, the website is coded and pushed live. Let us just break this linear approach. Let us iterate the design processes and not be scared to revisit a step and feed new ideas and information back into the production. What needn’t be in the design at all? Iteration will refine and develop an idea into a solid concept.

I have been getting excited about comic prototyping recently and how it has the ability to reflect the feelings and aspirations of the end user to the client. Rather than emphasis on the interface and placing it centre of attention based on analysis, comic prototyping is end user centric. This, in my opinion opens up new design avenues. And, because the fact that what is being created is a comic, an understanding of the values, aspirations and feelings from using the interface rather than the product itself, it encourages the notion of play making. The comic prototype will never feature in the final product, the end user will never see it. There is nothing precious around the prototype and it feeds into the further iterations around the design process. I believe this is a good place to start to get the iterative process working but we must try and continue this throughout the lifecycle of the design too. But when should we stop? Until the product is at a stage where it is suitable for production? Or time and budget restraints are exhausted?

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Tags: comic prototyping, ia, information architecture, interface design, traci lepore, User Experience, ux, ux matter

This entry was posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009 at 10:57 pm and is filed under Interface, Prototyping, User Experience, Web design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Iterative process and the need for play making in design”

  1. Traci Lepore Says:

    June 9th, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Hi, I like that you’ve grasped and taken the iterative train of thought even further! I totally agree we need to break the linear chain. The room for trial and error is so crucial to actually finding innovation. You need to find what fails before you find the breakthrough in most of my experience.

    The comic prototypes are a great tangible end representation of design that is more empathetic and truly user-centered. Some other thoughts of mine are around how character development exercises can help develop more deep and empathetic personas and scenarios.

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