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Bill Buxton on sketching and prototyping user interfaces

In this 1.5 hour video, Bill Buxton talks about sketching and prototyping user interfaces.

To Bill Buxton, sketching is fundamental to ideation while prototyping is an evaluation technique. In ideation, the goal is to come up with many different ideas. In evaluation, you narrow down choices of ideas. Sketching is a way of "getting the right design" while prototyping is "getting the design right."


  • Bill Buxton's talk on sketching and prototyping Open link in new window
  • Jared Spool's summary of the talk Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 03, 2007 - via UIE Brain Sparks

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (119)  Audio and video (48)  Talks and presentations (18) 



Do we need user research?

Current thinking in user-centered design prescribes that all projects should include initial user research. To Dan Saffer, this is a false dogma. Lots of projects, such as the Mac OS X, have turned out fine without any research at all.

According to Dan Saffer, we should only use design research when:

1. We don't know the subject area well
2. The project is based in a culture different to our own
3. We don't know who the users are
4. The product is one we'd never use ourselves
5. The product contains features for specific types of users
6. We need inspiration
7. We need empathy
8. We don't have much design expertise

These guidelines could apply to every design project. But the point is that we should "...stop thinking of it as a necessary approach to design and start thinking of it as just a helpful tool."


  • Research Is a Method, Not a Methodology Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 18, 2007

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See also: User research (23) 



Book: Effective Prototyping for Software Makers

In January 2007, a new book on prototyping was published. It's a practical step-by-step book on how to create rapid paper and computer generated prototypes.

The book covers issues such as choosing prototyping method, deciding on fidelity, diagramming flows, evaluating prototypes, and how to create prototypes using different approaches and tools. It also has a short chapter on interface design guidelines.

The book is impressive 624 pages. The authors have reached this high volume by operating with a somewhat broad definition of what a prototype is (for example card sorting is called prototyping) and by explaining prototyping as an process composed of a myriad of phases and steps.

The exhaustive step-by-step approach might be educational for those new to prototyping. To me, it makes prototyping appear as an overwhelming and rigid undertaking rather than a creative and playful one.


  • The book at Open link in new window
  • The book at Open link in new window
  • Companion website with sample chapters Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 21, 2007

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See also: Books (47)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Usability improvements are worth money for non-commercial sites and intranets

According to Jakob Nielsen, it's a fallacy to believe that only commercial sites can profit from usability. The public sector can realize economic value from making people able to complete self-service transactions, non-profits from increased donations, and intranets from increased employee productivity.

Government agencies typically benefit significantly from usability improvements because they have a large base of users. In one example, Jakob estimates that a state agency could get a return-on-investment of 22,000% by fixing a basic usability problem.


  • Do Government Agencies and Non-Profits Get ROI From Usability? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2007

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See also: Cost-justification and ROI (27)  Intranets (3) 



Turn Photoshop projects into working prototypes

Altia has released a new tool called PhotoProto that translates Photoshop files into clickable prototypes. By arranging screens and widgets in layer combs and naming them with special keywords, PhotoProto can automatically turn projects into working prototypes.

The prototypes can be viewed in a browser with the ProtoPlay browser plug-in installed.


  • Altia PhotoProto Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2007 - via IxDA

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See also: Tools (106)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Free usability reviews of web sites

The site is an interesting concept. Submit a site and get the participants' views on your usability questions.


  • Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 11, 2007 - via DigitalWeb

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See also: Tools (106)  Expert reviews (11) 



Do we read web pages in an F-shaped pattern?

SURL has done an eyetracking study to investigate whether users follow the F-shaped pattern suggested by Jakob Nielsen when reading and scanning web pages.

Findings from the study:

- When reading or scanning text, users appear to follow by the F-pattern
- When scanning a page with a grid of product pictures, the F-pattern doesn't seem to hold true
- On the product picture pages, the area above the fold received significant more attention than the area below

The authors suggest that we should structure web pages so that important content falls in the F-pattern and that important or featured products on picture pages should be positioned above the fold.


  • Eye Gaze Patterns while Searching vs. Browsing a Website Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 30, 2007

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See also: Research (129)  Web page design (40)  Eye-tracking (14) 



How to create working prototypes with OmniGraffle

Michael Angeles has created a little video showing how create working prototypes with OmniGraffle (a Macintosh diagramming tool) by linking drawings together and exporting them as HTML or PDFs.


  • Creating prototypes with OmniGraffle Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 25, 2007

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See also: Tools (106)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Introduction to paper prototyping

Over at A List Apart, Shawn Medero has written a nice introduction to paper prototyping that covers the basic why and how.

"Though some people shy away from paper prototypes because they feel they will not be taken seriously, I argue that many people are intimidated by a formal, highly technical design process and that the less "professional" nature of paper prototyping is a great way to lighten the mood and engage a more diverse group. Just offer plenty of paper, pens, scissors, and other materials for anyone to grab and use. If anyone feels nervous, let them eat the paste."


  • Paper prototyping Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 24, 2007 - via Usability in the News

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (119)  Primers (14) 



Study link popularity on web pages

Webmasters Eyes is a tool that shows how popular links on a web page are based on Google's PageRank. Type in the page you want to study and it will display the page with little PageRank bars next to each link.


  • Webmasters Eyes Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 21, 2007

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See also: Web traffic analysis (12)  Tools (106) 


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