User experience architecture as problem-framing

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of the things we saw from the best designers is their use of prototypes to explore the problem. The prototype is the instrument they used to uncover previously hidden constraints and to see the shifts in the outcome of the design.

– Jared Spool, Exploring the Problem Space Through Prototyping

I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept lately — prototyping as a way to think about the problem — and how it relates overall to my role in bringing concepts to life. Early on in my first full-time job as a user experience architect, I remember taking wireframes and sketches to a feedback meeting and feeling like a failure when, 5 minutes into the discussion, there were so many problems with the concept pointed out.

It took me a while to realize that early sketches, wireframes, and prototypes are never going to be “right.” That’s not the point of making them. I may present them as potential solutions, but in reality I’m creating them to facilitate a discussion about what we’re trying to do and what our goals and limitations are. Only then can we begin to understand what the real potential solutions might be.

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