Wireframes, round 5 (done but never finished)

In our final Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving class, we presented our fifth (and final!) iterations of wireframes for class scheduling and registration.

After four previous versions, I wasn’t totally sure what to do next. So I printed and hung each wire from Iteration 4 on the wall and I stepped back to look at the whole system. Though I kept multiple paths for people to add, browse/search, and drop courses, I stripped out many of the extra features. No more setting time preferences. Fewer filters. Only the catalog view to see course listings or descriptions (instead of an alternative view when starting from the schedule section).

Which brought me to Iteration 5. (Click image to download PDF.)

To test my wireframes, I set up a hyperlinked Keynote presentation so users could click through the prototype on a computer. While I discovered a couple issues where links weren’t set up properly (or where people tried to use the keyboard rather than click the “glass” keyboard on screen), I think the digital wireframes created a smoother testing process. Instead of trying to sort through and lay down one of 35-40 sheets of paper, I was able to pay more attention to user behavior.

Of the five strangers who tested the application for me, several finished and had a sense of, “That’s it?” As in, “Cool—I’m done? That wasn’t bad at all!” And the snags users did experience were mostly issues related to iPad conventions or elements better addressed by visual design.

So what did I learn from this class? I appreciate the process of iterating and incremental improvement on behalf of a user’s experience. I understand the value of Think-Aloud user testing (and approaching random people in coffee shops to get perspectives I likely wouldn’t get from people who know me). I learned the challenge of designing a comprehensive system as well as considering detailed interactions. I messed around with prototyping tools and templates ranging from markers and paper to print-outs to interactive digital mock-ups. I moved from a set of requirements to a rough thing to a more polished version to something that testers wanted to see made into a real application.

Finally, I learned the difference between done and finished. I could create 82 more iterations if I wanted. I could continue testing and tweaking. These wires aren’t finished. But I learned a lot about incremental problem solving, and I’m perfectly happy putting away these wires and being done with this project.