UX during the stages prior to the real product
1 July 2013
User Experience (hereby referred to as UX) is a human experience that affects the way a person thinks, feels or acts when using a system (website, software), product or service. In many cases it is synonymous with a user interface (excerpt from Wikipedia).
A UX, in my opinion, should provide an experience in its simplest form. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the real final product indeed includes the components that create the UX (such as: usability, reliability, esthetics, comfort, easy navigation etc). Yet what happens on the way (which is not always short and simple) to the real product? Do we make sure to provide the interim clients with a presentation of our solutions? Do we even need to provide them with such, and if yes-why?
From my personal experience, the answer is obvious: yes!
Why? When attempting to answer this question simply, I recalled the title of the movie "Play it forward".
What is a product?
A product is a concept from the field of finance that describes goods or service with monetary value; usually goods or service that endured human processing and production processes related to the knowledge and cultural/social settings of the development (excerpted from Wikipedia).
In the World of Knowledge Management products are usually organizational / professional portals or professional material (such as presentations, courseware, procedures, documents, etc). A product is developed due to the need and aspiration that it will indeed answer its final consumer's needs/wishes, yet the stages between the initial need and the final product can act as a meaningful factor in the product's success.
As knowledge managers we are required to present solutions for arising needs. The manner in which the solutions are presented is important and helps illustrate the real product. Therefore, the approach to solution we suggest should be as serious as that to the final product.
Presenting a detailed visual solution which resembles the final product has many advantages:
Our client will have an easier time understanding what we meant.
An illustration that resembles the real product will enable coordinating expectations.
This solution enables performing an early usability test.
We can locate further needs or discard excessive elements before investing time and money in the real product.
We can create a common language with our client.
The client's enthusiasm is usually high which contributes to the product's assimilation.
We (the knowledge managers) are perceived as more professional and overall serious.
So, how is this done?
My tips on:
An organizational/content area/professional portal:
Be careful to regard UX components as early as the prototype: use correct spacing, straightening, and hyperlinks.
Insert text and pictures from the same content world: don't write "text text…" and do not put unrelated pictures. Real text and pictures will connect the user and assist him/her in quickly understanding what you meant.
Aesthetics: refrain from excessive color, stick to the company's brand colors (logo).
Crate a prototype as similar to the real system as possible in terms of visibility and abilities: do not integrate options and components that cannot be applied in the real system. This way, you will avoid needless disappointments.
Be open to changes and criticism: in the bottom line, the most important thing is that the final product answers the client's needs. The prototype is merely to open the discussion.
Integrate suitable pictures: the visual aspect creates an experience and makes the viewers remember the presentation.
Use short substantive
Also here, Aesthetics are important. Avoid excessive coloring and stick to the logo colors.
Be careful to use: straightening, spacing, correct numbering, highlighting, and concise writing.
In long documents: create a visual index that will assist you in accessing the content of the document easily.
It is recommended to hyperlink between the document's different sections (to its beginning or continuous content).
In conclusion, regard the products you produce seriously and creatively, and so will the client!