It wasn’t long ago that customers had to wait until the alpha or beta version of a piece of software was complete before they could see a concept in action. They then could provide a developer with their ideas for how they thought the program would look and work. In turn, developers would spend many hours developing the idea, hoping that it was what the customer was looking for. It wasn’t until the very end of a project that the client was able to see the program in action. If things were not as they hoped for, the process would have to start from the beginning. User interface (UX) driven design has changed that.
UX-driven design is accomplished through a few steps. First, the client and developer go through a content development phase, in which they work together to flush out what they’re trying to build. Next they build storyboards. Storyboards are a major component of UX-driven design. Many tools now exist to help build storyboards, but the goal is the same: to create a visual mockup of the project. After this is completed, the project moves on to the building of wire frames, or the skeleton, of the program. From the wire frames, the next step is to work through the UI or user interface. Just as there are many programs that help with storyboards, there are also many tools to create clickable UIs. When this step is complete, is the client essentially has a prototype of the program. The entire process is a means of traditional rapid prototyping.
These tools are not new but in the past were very rudimentary, whereas today’s tools are much more refined. Implementing this process can help bring products to the market faster and allow for user input in the first 20% of he development life cycle instead of the final 20% of the project. Clients begin to see the project through the storyboards and wire frames, giving them the ability to edit, change and improve on what they are seeing while the project is in process.
Not only can a company implement their project sooner, this process also saves time for developers. It also enables software architects to make better informed technical design decisions before development begins, thereby leading to more robust systems and efficient development cycles. By the time the final project is rolling out the pipeline, it has been crafted and revised a number of times from both design input and architecture refinement. It may feel more cumbersome to have users making suggestions and changes throughout the lifecycle of the project, but in the end it can save hours, days and even weeks of work. At the end of the project, users have a touchable, clickable prototype that provides a rich experience. Only minor adjustments and changes are generally needed in the final stages before release.
The implementation of UX-driven design has changed the landscape in development and has proven to be a win-win situation for users and developers.