Communicating ideas as a UX designer is a vital skill.
Yet sometimes, I find myself struggling with it. Especially discussing design ideas in meetings without anything tangible for people to react to can be a waste of time. Discussions remain theoretical, thereby missing an element of focus and productivity. Frustrating!
I believe the prototype is the single best way to communicate ideas for UX Designers. Here is why:
Tangible Beats Abstract
I have gotten so much value out of the design sprint methodology by Jake Knapp. Among other things, Jake built the Design Sprint framework because he was annoyed by long and unsuccessful meetings. Without structure and a framework, discussions tend to wander – with no outcome.
While not every meeting needs a workshop or a facilitator, I like to live by the design sprint principles every day. My favorite principle is ‘tangible beats abstract.’
A prototype puts a stake into the ground. You can agree with the outcome or not, but the conversation focuses on user experience and the customer.
The Prototype is The Language of The UX Designer
In architecture school, my teachers taught me that sketching is the language of architects. I loved it. So in every meeting with my friends or teachers, I had a sketchbook with me, and we discussed ideas with pen to paper.
Whenever I present design ideas to stakeholders, I never show stand-alone mockups or wireframes. I always put it in the context of the experience user journey – ideally in high fidelity.
With a prototype, Designers have a common ground of understanding. Upon which you can build new ideas.
Whenever you present your work, create a small prototype. In my experience, once there is something tangible to show to a customer or stakeholder, ideas start to flow. People talk about user problems and have ideas, and the project moves forward. Avoid lengthy discussions about things people can’t see.
To end on a thought-provoking note: Maybe Rapid Prototyping is more critical than User Research?
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