When you’re working on a new project, the only thing that can kill your excitement and creativity is- DEADLINE. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You realize that all that design jargon is kept aside- the design principles, the empathy chatter, usability testing. There is no time to research, to schedule user interviews, to discover needs of the user or understand the nature of the problem that they are facing.
You realize that the only thing that you are worried about is-
- Drowning deadlines, and
- Desperate client
Happens to all of us, right?
Take it easy.
In this scenario, wear your problem-solving hat and start thinking. What are the aspects of design that you can probably skip for now and take up in the next iteration? Identify the design steps which you just can’t miss. There you go- “Divide and Rule.”
Just keep one thing in mind- Saving time and doing things to meet deadlines is not synonymous with making sloppy designs which demand double iterations and rework in next stages.
I am not a big fan of lo-fi designs, but with my little experience in UX, I can say that they help you get to the solution fast and improve upon your designs. Following are the steps that I believe are essential to make a better product even when you are sweating with deadlines.
Understanding requirements is like learning to swim before you dive into the ocean. The biggest blunder that you can do while designing mockups is making assumptions. Understanding and gathering the requirements is an important part of starting any project. It helps us to perceive the needs of the users and to better understand the problem that we’re trying to solve. We can consider these requirements as “limitations or restrictions” around which we need to define our solution. These “limitations or restrictions” also help us understand the users and their work environment, which in turn leads to a better design.
Once we’ve understood the users the next step is to create a persona. Personas help us to have an idea of what type of users that will be using the product. It is created to help us understand our user in terms of their work environment, their area of expertise, the problems they face, and their goals. Personas represent a group of similar people. For example- users of age group 20-30, working as designers and expert in using Sketch. These personas assist us while designing the user flow for a particular set of users that would be using the product.
A user flow provides an overview of the start and end of a process for a specific type of user or a task. It helps in identifying the pain points of the user and eliminating the errors or hurdles that a user could come across during the process. By creating a user flow, we may even identify some not-so-obvious but necessary requirements that we could not identify earlier. So, defining a user flow assists in creating a seamless design with minimum chances of error.
After we have defined a user flow it’s time to sketch out the design and create wireframes. Sketches and wireframes provide a rough idea of how the data and information would flow in the application. It gives an idea of how much and what kind of data would be represented in a flow of the application and how it would interact with other elements in the flow. Wireframing shows a complete scenario of the flow of a specific process that is being carried out before we can start investing time in the visual design. It helps us in understanding and finalizing the flow and make sure that we are going in the right direction.
While there are a lot of tools available these days to make wireframes, the fastest process is sketching on a paper. This gives you a lot of liberty over your ideas and you can quickly drain everything on a sheet of paper. Not that good in sketching? Don’t worry, read this blog about how you can improve your sketching skills.
This is the most important part of any design process. Without feedback, you are bound to make mistakes. Feedback tells us whether we’re moving closer to accomplishing a task or not. You can take feedback from the stakeholders as well as end users. They can tell you things which might have slipped your mind. Like a misplaced button or a hidden action item. So at every step, it is important to adapt the feedback regime in order to make meaningful designs.
It’s not necessary to create high fidelity mockups when you’re in a hurry. Sure, high fidelity mockups are always better than low fidelity ones. But, you can only create hi-fi mockups if you have the time. Like it’s said, UX is not about pretty pictures, it’s about how things flow in a process. A low-fidelity sketch or wireframe of user flow gets the job done when you are running short on time.