article (Sat Jun 22 2013)

Usability - Evaluating Your Own Prototypes

  • #uxdesign
  • #designthinking
  • #prototyping

One of the key problems with designing a system is falling in love with your own designs. While it is good to love your own designs, which works as an ego boost, this design narcissism can sometimes lead to bad user experiences.

As a user experience designer, your prime focus must be on the user, not on the design. This means being open to throw away hours and sometimes weeks of design work in order to provide a better user experience.

But the key problem is how to avoid drifting away? How not to go so deep into the zone that you actually forget the reason why you are doing whatever you are doing?

Through my own explorations, mistakes and failures, I learnt that if you can only do a few simple things, you can avoid a lot of design pain. Below is a technique that I tend to follow during the paper prototyping phase so that I can get the most out of my designs without having to throw away a lot of time an effort.

Define Intents : With what purpose does your user come to the page that you are designing? Determine Questions : What are the questions that the user will ask himself when trying to accomplish his intents. Prototype : Design your interface on paper or any other suitable tools, trying to keep those questions in mind. Evaluate : Do a quick usability evaluation of your prototype by checking if you addressed all the questions identified in step 2. This simple feedback loop is critical to designing any interface. Understanding the questions that people ask when they are on an interface is key to designing the functionality of an interface. True beauty, like everything else in this world, lies in function, not in design. Attempting to address the questions in each iteration of your prototypes will help you to design a smarter interface rather than a beautiful one.

Moreover, you dont need to wait for a long time before someone else comes and tells you that you just got too far away from the original vision.