Using Prototypes to Build Consensus

17 Apr, 2013

At the cusp of an important decision about how to move forward with the architecture and design of our mobile application, the team was deadlocked. Tech was looking for a design solution to mitigate architectural issues that were causing instability. Design, while equally concerned about app performance, wasn’t interested in making a quick fix—potentially adding superfluous UI elements—for the sake of expediency.

I needed a way to describe how the new navigation could potentially solve our problems

I wanted to propose a potential solution that would involve an evolution of the app navigation. The new navigation pattern was something the design team was already exploring, and it seemed to have the added benefit of ameliorating the architectural issues that were causing the app to become unstable.

I needed a way to describe to a distributed team how the new navigation could potentially solve our problems. Naturally, I turned to prototyping as a method to clearly communicate my design vision.

Of course, time was of the essence. I didn’t want to spend a great deal of time building and perfecting a prototype for something that was still a relatively new and unapproved concept. I opted to use my Keynotopia PowerPoint stencils to build an interactive wireframe in less than four hours. The low to mid fidelity prototype was capable of demonstrating user flows, and some interaction design. It was also built in PowerPoint which made it very easy to share and present to our distributed team via a conference call.

The interactive wireframe proved to be extremely useful as a means of communicating the design vision to our technology team. After walking through the proposed flows, and asking questions, several team members commented that the visuals were a huge help in terms of articulating exactly how the proposed design could solve our architecture problem. Our business sponsor also wanted to use the prototype to help him document requirements and write user stories.

Remember that prototyping isn’t just for usability testing. It’s an outstanding method for communicating to your internal stakeholders and building consensus.

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