Prototyping at Rock Health
This week, consultants from Cooper met with folks at RockHealth to discuss prototyping. Jim Dibble, Faith Bolliger, Peter Duyan, and Martina Maleike talked about tools available for creating both low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes. Prototypes are tools to foster communication around the proposed product. So, before deciding what type of prototype to build, you need to ask yourself who's the audience and what kind of communication do you want to foster?
Prototypes can be used to communicate your product vision to stakeholders, investors, or your internal team. Prototypes can also be used to gather information from users and potential users. And finally, you can use prototypes to prove to yourself that the interaction in your head actually makes sense when expressed digitally.
In any case, you want to prototype just enough to foster the conversation you want to have with your audience. Low-fidelity paper prototypes are great for gathering user feedback, especially if you want to let the audience know that your design is still relatively pliable. While you may want to use a high-fidelity prototype to give potential investors a clear sense of your product vision, you may be able to use a low-fidelity version to convey the vision to team members. We have found that building high-fidelity prototypes of small moments of complex interaction can be incredibly valuable for communicating with remote developers about design intent and technical feasibility.
Interface Origami by Jaun Sanchez
The basic idea behind Interface Origami is to get out of the digital space and create a physical prototype. This allows you to play with your concepts in the real world, helping to avoid usability pitfalls by experiencing your concept in real world context. It's a great way to explore ideas without worrying about pixels.
Check out Juan Sanchez great post about the concepts behind Interface Origami.
Prototyping on the iPad with Interface 2
Interface 2 is a great looking prototyping tool that has just been released for the iPad. Interface 2 allows you to create clickable, pixel perfect working prototypes on your iOS device using all the standard iOS components.
Beyond it's excellent toolset Interface 2 allows you to export your prototype as Xcode project that can be shared with your iOS developer. Potentially speeding up your project development time.
Start and Maintain an Asset Library
As an illustration major in college, my professor implored his students to start a reference library of interesting photos, textures, colors and whatever we found interesting. The idea was to create a massive library of photo references that you could refer back to if you ever need to draw a sports car or something along those lines.
As a visual designer I've continued that concept. Except instead of collecting reference photo's I've been maintain an asset library of Photoshop files, Fireworks files, icons, vectors, textures, brushes, swatches, fonts and what ever else I find useful. The idea is to create an asset library of elements that will speed up your workflow and save time, allowing you to spend more time designing.
* Pixa - New app for maintaining your asset library. Public beta.
I recommend every visual designer add an asset library to their toolkit. If you want to learn more about building your asset library check out Erin Nolan post: "Build your asset library today"
Procreate for the iPad
The new version of Procreate iPad app launched last night. I've only been able to play with it for a few hours but if it's not the best drawing experience on the iPad it's right at the top. It features new sketch and inking brushes that look and feel amazing. The smudge tool has also been and will allow you to rock some of those Brad Rigney techniques.
Need a Stylus for your iPad checkout: The best stylus for iPad by The Verge.
Icon Handbook by Jon Hicks
If you're interested in icon design, checkout "The Icon Handbook" by Jon Hicks. This book covers all the basic concepts of icon design and will give you an excellent icon design foundation. The "Icon Handbook" is well written and a easy read. Packed with little nuggets of useful information.
Pixelapse Visual version control done right
We are starting to see the rise of new cloud-based web services directed at creative professionals and one that I'm most excited about is Pixelapse.
Pixelapse address a real problem that visual designers have, version control. Pixelapse uses a visual version control system that will display thumbnails of your work as you progress through your normal workflow.
Similar to Dropbox Pixelapse uses an application to creates a Pixelapse folder on your mac. Once the Pixelapse folder is created everything within that folder will be synced to the cloud. Within the Pixelapse folder you can start working on photoshop, fireworks or illustration files. As you work and save you files normally Pixelapse will constantly sync those files to the cloud automatically creating new versions allowing you to revert to previous versions at anytime.
The other nice thing about Pixelapse is that you can invite people to review your files and make comments as you go. Great for working with clients or in a team environment. Pixelapse is currently in private beta, checkout their site for more information.
Portland/CreativeMornings - Aaron James Draplin
Finally, check out this great talk by James Draplin from draplin.com
"The DDC 50 Point Plan To Ruin/Save Your Career."