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Svetlin Denkov is a Chicago-based UX Designer who enjoys building highly interactive prototypes for mobile and tablet devices using different technologies. You can follow him on Twitter, where he posts on UX, Innovation, and Technology. You can also drop him a line via LinkedIn.
Years ago, a kid was trying to fashion a bow by cutting a twig with a knife. Upon seeing this struggle, his grandfather handed him a saw, saying, “Always use the right tool for the job!” As the kid in the story, I learned a valuable lesson in craftsmanship: When you’re picking a tool to solve a problem, there are many good tools, but some are better suited to the task than others!
In recent years, new prototyping tools have emerged, many for mobile design. The landscape is constantly changing, with some tools losing favor with UX designers (or UXers) and others taking their place. While this article will not serve as a complete paint-by-numbers manual for selecting a prototyping tool, we will discuss important factors that influence the selection process.
In a previous article, I discussed using POP to create sketch-based clickthrough prototypes in participatory design exercises. These prototypes capture well the flow and overall layout of early design alternatives.
The same piece briefly mentioned another category of clickthrough prototypes: widget-based mockups that are designed on the target device and that expand on sketches by introducing user interface (UI) details and increased visual fidelity. These prototypes can be used to pitch ideas to clients, document interactions and even test usability. In this article, I will teach you how to use the iPad app Blueprint to put together such prototypes in the form of concept demos, which help to manage a client’s expectations when you are aligning your visions of a product.
As UX professionals, we often lead design exercises with our stakeholders, including immediate team members and external clients. In these brainstorming sessions, participants identify opportunities to improve the design, thereby aligning everyone’s vision and expectations of the project.
During such activities, teams will generate concepts as paper or whiteboard sketches. While these artifacts give a ten thousand-foot view of the emerging design, I would argue that they fall short of presenting the pieces as a whole, because they limit participants from visualizing interactivity and the system’s flow. This is where clickthrough prototypes enter the picture.