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Building high-fidelity prototypes

From: Foundations of UX: Prototyping

Video: Building high-fidelity prototypes

Just as is the case, when you build low fidelity prototypes. High fidelity prototypes require a consistent approach to their construction, and a constant attention to the aspects of the project that you're focussing on. As with low fidelity, you only want to build what you need. This is often harder with high fidelity prototypes, as the tendency is to try to build everything to the same level of finish. In this movie, I want to talk about some of the aspects of building high fidelity prototypes and walk you through the decisions that I made while building one of my own.

Building high-fidelity prototypes

Just as is the case, when you build low fidelity prototypes. High fidelity prototypes require a consistent approach to their construction, and a constant attention to the aspects of the project that you're focussing on. As with low fidelity, you only want to build what you need. This is often harder with high fidelity prototypes, as the tendency is to try to build everything to the same level of finish. In this movie, I want to talk about some of the aspects of building high fidelity prototypes and walk you through the decisions that I made while building one of my own.

Since we're going to discuss HTML prototypes separately, I'm going to focus on graphic software rather than on those technologies. As with any prototype, the first thing you want to do is to determine the focus. And in the case of my Meal Assist app, I'm wanting to test out the initial visual design and get feedback on typography, layout and color. I also want to simulate interacting with certain elements, such as the login form, and previewing some of the ideas that I have for animating transitions between screens. To do this, I used one tool that you might expect, and one that you might not.

First, as you can see here in my screen here, I'm going to be using Illustrator to help me refine the visual design. Then I'm going to use keynote, to build the interactive part of the prototype. Now, keynote may seem like an odd choice at first, but remember the goals that I stated. I wanted to simulate how UI elements are interacted with and show some animations. Keynote, and for that matter, Powerpoint, are both quite good at this. Okay, So I'm in Illustrator and I have my prototype file opened up and here you can see some art boards that I've created. That show various screens.

I'm going to zoom up on the Login Screen so you kind of see what I'm doing here. Essentially, here I'm refining the visual design of this. I'm paying attention to typography, I'm starting to use color and I'm trying to create a layout that's going to look almost exactly like the finished application. And so if I kind of scroll through these, you can see that we've got a lot more going on within the interface now. Now, in putting this together, I'm really creating, basically just a mockup. And that's a part of any design process, but when you're building mockups, you can leverage those assets to create prototypes, and a lot of it goes into how you actually going to create it? On this slider, that the little dot here that indicates the controller for the slider is a totally separate piece of artwork.

And so because of that, when I start building my prototypes, I can place it on its own layer or create interactivities specifically for it, apart from the rest of it, to give the illusion that it's moving around. Or in certain situations, I can allow people to grab that and move it themselves. So by, making sure that a lot of these elements have separate components, I can then pull them apart, separately, and then rebuild them in the software that I'm actually going to use to create the prototype. Now, another aspect of this that I want to talk about is, you'll notice that I've placed this in sort of an iPad template.

Since this is the tablet app. When I'm prototyping this, I really like to give at least some degree of environmental fidelity. Since I'm going to be testing this at a keynote, you know, they're not really going to be holding it in their hands, but by seeing that screen, they sort of get the idea that this is a tablet-based app and they're sort of already drawn into that context. Now, to help assist me with the iPad fidelity here, I actually found a nice iPad UI kit from the good folks at iCom library and downloaded that. A little bit later on in the title, we going to talk about resources, I'll show you where you can go find UI libraries just like that one.

Now that we kind of know what's going on here, why I've developed the screens the way I've developed them, the fact that, you know, we have certain things that are separate elements and other things that are grouped together. I'm going to switch over to Keynote and show you the actual prototype itself. Okay, so the first thing I want to do, is actually show you the simulation before I jump into Keynote. Because I wanted to show you the level of fidelity that Keynote and other presentation software are able to give you. It's actually pretty impressive. Here I am in the login screen, and if I was having somebody test this, I would give them some instructions in terms of what to do and what to interact with first.

The first thing we ask them to do, is to click inside username so they can see the log in form being simulated. So, if I go to username, and I click inside of it, I can see the keyboard comes up and my name types in, so that's awesome. The next step obviously would be to go to password, so I'm going to click on that. Password fills in. And then, once I have those two complete, I could hit login, and it logs me into the application. So, again, it's not a pure simulation, you know, I'm not typing that in myself, I'm not using the keypad, but either walked through the application in a linear way, and actually physically seeing what that's going to look like.

The degree of fidelity is only up to a certain point. But it's what I needed for the goals that I had for this prototype. Now the next thing I wanted to show them, is how this slider control is going to work. The fact that depending upon the mood, they might want to try something new for the evening or based on their other mood they might want to try something they already had before. So if they click on this, those watch the slider move back and forth and the same different position. So, they get the idea that this is a slider control that can move and place in the location that matches their mood for the evening. And then final thing that I wanted to simulate was some of the animation transitions.

So essentially, we wanted to make this app incredibly easy to use. We wanted to make it very intuitive, so the first person, somebody fired the app, they could just go ahead and select things. And down below that they tell us, what entree they're going to fix tonight. Is it meat, is it seafood, is it veggies, or do they have a specific recipe that they want to pick? Now obviously these are pretty broad categories, and that was on purpose. We wanted to make it very easy to click and find what you wanted. But once you click on one of these, you're asked to further refine your selection by giving some choices. This way, we're not presenting the user with a million choices all at once.

Well I want to make that interaction fun and I want to animate it and create some interest there. So, when you click on a square, it's going to animate and show the further details. So if I click on, say meat for example, it's going to animate up, and then I get to see the entree detail itself. So, Keynote gives me that ability to preview sort of the idea that I have about these transitions before I go in and actually have to code them myself. Now, if I go back into Keynote and show you guys the slides themselves, I want to show you some of the things that I did in Keynote to make all of this stuff work.

the first thing you'll notice is that on each screen, there's going to be a transparent box that is essentially a link, and it's linking to the next slide. Now one of the nice things about Power Point and Key Note is that you can have links within the presentation that link to the next slide, the previous slide or the slide that you choose. So you don't have to tell your story in a linear fashion. You can create links that take you back to the homepage for example, in a very easy way to do that. Now, the next thing that I wanted to show you, is the transitions that I was using. If I click inside my build here, and go into the more options and click on the 2nd, slide here, you'll notice that the text that I had moving in, the James Williamson that was typing in the password.

I'm actually using an effect called Typewriter and Typewriter does just that. It simulates text being entered in. And it's really nice that Keynote and PowerPoint both have all these sort of built in transitions that you can use so a lot of the things you want to simulate from an application. Are already built to the presentation software. And it's just really easy for you to go in and do that. And then finally, if I go down to the final couple of slides, this was a little bit trickier, to try to accurately preview the animation. And I'm not sure I nailed it, but I got it close enough to what I was wanting, so that somebody testing the simulation would have a fair idea of what that final transition is going to look like.

And to do this, I used a feature inside Keynote known as Magic Move. And Magic Move what that is, is if you have an element on one slide and on the next slide you change it in some way you make it bigger, you move it around, that sort of thing, it'll go ahead and handle that transition for you. But it is a little flaky, so it usually takes a little while to do that. I will say however That this aspect of my application because I have some fairly decent keynote skills. And have worked with it for a while. I was able to knock this together in a very short amount of time.

So, it all goes down to what fidelity you're trying to reach. What it is you're trying to actually show on the screen. And your comfort level with your tools. There're multiple tools that could have done the job for me, and as a designer, you'll have to be the one to decide which tools are perfect for the job.

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Foundations of UX: Prototyping

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James Williamson
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