Saturday, June 12, 2010

Low Fidelity Prototyping and Plain English

When I was trying to cover Social Networking the other night in a business class lecture I tried to prepare for inevitable questions from students that had never seen some of these tools.  It was then that I literally stumbled across Wikis in Plain English.  Have you seen this Plain English series?  They are both entertaining and informative, which in my opinion makes them quite effective.

As I was watching the video on Wikis I immediately started drawing parallels between the Plain English series and Low Fidelity Prototyping (LFP), a.k.a. Paper Prototyping.  I used LFP to capture and present UI and workflow mock-ups quickly, in front of customers.  However, its intrinsic value in my opinion was realized in the information gained and relationships built by engaging the customers directly.   Everyone knows that not all customers are created equal and some customers find it difficult to contribute to project efforts, even though they are the single best resource for defining usability aspects.  In my opinion LFP is the simplest (not to mention inexpensive) and most effective way to get these customers to create with you.

After almost 20 years in IT I have trudged through many different movements in GUI and workflow design session tools and techniques:  JAD, RAD, Wire Frames, MS Visio.  However, LFP has always been the most flexible tool for quickly reaching customers and capturing the essence of their thoughts.  Of course once this information is captured it should then be distilled in to more readable models to ensure that manager types and end-users know that we as IT folks understand their world.

With the CommonCraft Plain English series here is an LFP in motion, with a twist of entertainment added.  If is very effective, conveying the intricacies of Social Networking tools, or even Borrowing Money.  In fact, I see the CommonCraft Plain English series as a aid to help us learn the effectiveness of LFP and how to use it to communicate with high fidelity.

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