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There’s more than one way to skin a Web site

As I was going through our course material this week, I got caught up in trying to determine what the design process meant to each of the authors. While they all seemed to have the end user’s best interests at heart, it seemed like there were a lot of variables in their production paths.

Here’s a quick attempt to get to the essence of their their production processes.

Aidlin’s process is something like this:

Whiteboarding and Sketching –> Source Control and Project Management –> Project Management: SCRUM –> Functional Wireframes –> and then on through to the finished product.

Aidlin’s process appears to rely heavily on brainstorming at the beginning, picking the right way to deliver the product, and then moving quickly through the other phases and into the a shortcut that actually begins to be build a site. Since he’s primarily working with Web sites, I think this is a great model. I’ve been involved in building a few sites over time and there’s nothing more frustrating than getting a concept to an advanced stage only to find out a key change forces you to rethink the entire site. A friend of mine that builds lots of sites told me recently that wireframing was a key to his process and I can see why.

Cooper insists this is the only successful process:

Cooper

Considering he can’t figure out how to work his alarm clock, TV, an ATM or his car, I’m not sure how much weight I’d give his input on this or any other topic. His disdain of most product design made it tough to get to his message and the labeling of users as apologists or survivors (victims) was offensive (especially to an apologist like myself).

Saffer sees various paths, mainly based on the user’s needs and the designer’s skills. His contribution here isn’t so much a process as it is a thumbnail guide to determining a starting place:

Saffer

I especially like the Genius approach, where the designer “is the source of inspiration.” He cites the iPod as an example here and it’s tough to disagree. Before its invention, did any of us need this gadget?

And Kangas offers variations used on a couple of projects:

Kangas1

Kangas2

Neither process was ideal in the end, but I thought the concept of paper prototype testing was interesting, maybe something akin to Aidlin’s wireframes.

While Kelley didn’t really show a formal process, the Dilbert project suggests he’s also big on brainstorming and conceptualizing.

So the question remains: What’s the best design process?

It probably depends on the product. But based on the readings, I’d have to suggest:

  • The benefits of significant research and planning
  • Using a flexible modeling scheme, and
  • Getting as much user input as possible during the production.

For our projects, that suggests something like this:

Site concept (Kangas’s initial feature requirements) –> Competitor product analysis (Kangas) –> determine user needs and goals (Saffer) –> whiteboarding and sketching (Aidlin) –> wireframe (Aidlin) or paper prototype (Kangas) –> programming (Cooper) –> simultaneous bug/user test (Cooper) –> refinements/change requests (Kangas) –> resulting in user-centered design (Saffer).

It’s a work in progress, but we’ve already completed the first few phases. On to the next.

Category: Weekly Readings

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One Response

  1. Pat Daddona says:

    Thumbs up! You’ve really reduced the readings to their essence! I particularly like the commingling of ideas at the end. In short, take the best, lose the rest.