Gain insight from user experience design
If you are new to the software development process, it can be hard to fathom all of the decisions you’ll eventually have to make. After working on over 300 projects, we’ve concluded that strong user experience design is central to the success of a software project.
The Importance of User Experience Design
Some of the most important decisions for a software project involve user interface design and user experience design – but why? This is in part because a successful user interface design is a result of smart decisions about the strategy and scope of your project. And good user experience design will lead to high engagement and returning users, while poor design will guarantee your users won’t come back.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to evaluate these user design choices until you see them in action. Interacting with a software prototype allows a level of engagement that a wireframe or mockup cannot convey: on-screen behaviors, transitions, form interactions, viewport resizing, and conditional display of elements based on screen size are all benefits uniquely provided by the prototype.
Having a clickable or tappable mock-up of your project can also force you to confront the areas that you haven’t thought through as thoroughly and can help you articulate the solutions in a concrete way.
Our Prototyping Process
We’ve designed a prototyping system that walks you through the development process from the beginning. It’s called ClickModel. During a ClickModel engagement, We consider five key areas of focus. Choices made in each of these areas depend on and affect decisions made in the surrounding areas. Building a ClickModel software prototype makes it possible to consider these key areas holistically.
Without prototyping, you likely won’t notice misalignment across the key areas until money has already been invested to build with the wrong requirements or to respond to the wrong business objectives.
This is because these problems usually arise in the user experience arena, which, traditionally, comes too late in the development process to preemptively correct mistakes. The result: cost overruns and missed deadlines!
But with ClickModel, you’ll know that your time and money is going to the right place. We work our way through each of the areas with you, making sure that the user experience of your software concept is sound and well-planned.
Our approach starts with why and who.
- The why is the business objective: Why are you building this software in the first place? What problem are you actually trying to solve?
- The who is the intended audience or the intended users.
This two-fold discussion guarantees at the outset that your custom software will answer the right questions and meet a demonstrated need.
Once the focus of the project is established, we move on to scope. Scope in prototyping deals with the functional specifications and content requirements of your project.
How much of the defined problem are you planning to solve? What features do you absolutely need for a successful product? When do you cross that line into unnecessary bloat?
A Functional Structure
Now that we’ve defined a backbone, we can start to get more concrete. How will one feature communicate with the others for maximum benefit? How will all of the information be stored? Do you need outwardly searchable databases? Password-protected content? Are there sequences of events or workflows that must be correctly ordered for the user to achieve a specific goal or activity?
Building a Skeleton
Next, it’s time to consider the layout of images, textual content, buttons, and controls. The skeleton optimizes the placement of these elements to provide an efficient and intuitive experience across multiple devices and screens. For example, the consistent placement of the company logo reinforces the brand messaging, and the careful placement of an “add to cart” button results in optimal user engagement during a purchase transaction.
The Surface (AKA “The Fun Part”)
After you’ve made all of the important foundational decisions, you finally get to think about the visual design.
The “surface” of your software is the most exciting to ponder, but it’s useless until you’ve thought through the first four key areas. However, that also means it’s that much more rewarding to make choices about button color and icons once you know that everything running behind them is exactly right.
The surface is where your prototype really comes together, and if you’ve done the legwork with the strategy, scope, structure, and skeleton, you won’t be disappointed.
These five key areas form a conceptual framework for discussing user experience challenges. They also help to identify the right tools to solve challenges as they arise.
Level by level, as we travel from the abstract to the concrete, the decisions become slightly more specific and entail greater levels of detail.
As we move through the process, we acknowledge that each section is dependent on those that precede it. Because we anticipate the interconnected nature of these decisions, your development team won’t have to hack together components that just don’t fit. You’ll be more likely to meet future deadlines, avoid cost overruns, and get your software in front of the people who need it.
Though each project has unique stakeholders, users, requirements, and constraints, the ClickModel software prototyping methodology produces sound foundations for a successful development engagement and final outcomes.
Now that you’ve seen how ClickModel gives you deep insight into your project, take a look at our process to learn how UX design gets you these answers fast.