Producty goodness – May 13, 2010

Interesting post by Andrew Chen:
Min desirable vs. Min viable product. He advocates that a desirable product is better in some cases (high growth consumer-facing) than a viable product at the outset.

From his slideshare: the IDEO human-centered design toolkit. They offer 2 free downloads as part of the HCD:

  1. HCD Toolkit (PDF)
  2. HCD Field Guide (PDF)

From Dave McClure: startup metrics for pirates. A very in-depth slideshow on metrics that you can match to business success.

Matt Singley’s super fast, simple implementation of the easy power of the new Facebook APIs. I need to slap some of this Facebook stuff on Dub n Reggae – it’s summer so people are using the site! I’m considering using this Facebook Connect plugin for WordPress.

I’m also considering bumping CycloneRanger up to WP 3 so I can play with all the new toys. Also looking at Elastic Themes for design. I know it’s completely non-semantic, but most CSS layout frameworks use this methodology these days. Pragmatism 1, artistry 0.

I just got an iPad and am thinking about these “overlooked lessons about the iPad.” They’re not entirely accurate – the iPad responses aren’t snappy, there’s a significant border of nonfunctional screen space, and Win tried using the famous “Cat in the Hat” book app but couldn’t stop turning the pages backwards. Seriously, who designs an app for little kids and chooses provide “page forward” and “page back” functionality and then distinguish them only by the direction of a gesture? Sounds like a case of grown-ups designing to impress Oprah instead of designing for the end user (kids).

Also, while the point that the iPad represents a new generation of “lean back” devices (yay for media producers), the Good Experience blog overlooks the real strategic objective isn’t touch interfaces, it’s thin clients that are locked into closed cloud-based platforms. Touch screens will be commodity hardware in 2-3 years, if not sooner.

Wireframe porn

Update: See Will Evans‘s extremely thoughtful response in the comments – there’s a method to this madness that I was unaware of when I wrote the post. Thanks Will, for calling me to task so kindly.

Sketches, wireframes, and mockups are an essential part of the product development process and popular standards are beginning to emerge for web/mobile app design. These 4 videos will walk you through the process – they’re follow-up from the “Right Way to Wireframe” seminar at the recent Interation10 conference.

Will Evans, one of the presenters, recently posted 2 great articles on his blog – they more thoroughly describe his process:

I think it’s important to remember, especially in a resource-strapped startup, that nearly everything described in these videos amounts to procedural overhead – the actual end user (customer) never sees these, so they’re only valuable insofar as they help you create great products. Which can be tricky, because as you’ll see, wireframing is fun to the point of distraction. As soon as you’re building wireframes, documents, or any other procedural component at the cost of building the actual product, your ship is sinking.

As a complement (antidote?) to these videos, I’d strongly recommend 4 chapters from 37Signals’ Getting Real ebook:

And now, the wireframe porn
Good explicit definition of the full process, though the wireframes are a little too pretty for my taste. They’re spending a lot of time spend designing a throwaway mockup, which is poor ROI (this is likely a project with big overhead, so they can afford to fall in love with disposable process artifacts). There’s another, arguably more important cost to pretty wireframes: they have a coherent brand and design that can seem so similar to a finished product that they distract the decision makers from the final design and create unintentional biases (e.g. for minimal, grey and blue designs).
The hand-drawn placards are a nice touch, but this one is a bit vague regarding what’s actually going on. Process porn? There is a nice reference to card sorting and site map design as a prerequisite for individual pages, and the focus on hand-drawn sketches initially is a welcome addition to all the wireframing technophilia. Finally, the repeated start-to-finish flows from sketch to wireframe to page mockup help explain the transformation of a UI through each step.
This video skips over explaining requirements and how they become page concepts, which makes it far less useful than the others. The actual page requirements are pretty lightweight too, so there isn’t a whole lot to learn here. Also falls into the category of too-pretty wireframes. Man, I wish this UX calendar were a real project though!
This last one is from the aforementioned and soft-spoken Will Evans. God bless anyone who includes “motherfuck” in a description of the wireframing process. Also nice that he links to the tools usedOmnigraffle and wireframe stencils from Konigi.
Will starts with sketches before moving to the computer, and 1 standout item is the flow arrows that link the initial thumbnails – it’s an excellent alternative to traditional sitemaps and better suited to application-oriented experiences (as opposed to document-oriented). Also unique in the bunch is the inclusion of blue callouts in the wireframes, explaining each feature and grounding this process in a larger dev flow.
Will’s blog post, Shades of Gray: Thoughts on Sketching, does a good job of explaining the role of hand-drawn sketches in this process, which is arguably the most valuable lesson to take from all of the information in these videos.

Thanks to Josh for sending me the initial link.

Know of any other good “how to wireframe” videos? If you share them here I’ll work them into the post.