Prototype Your Startup


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This was a presentation given at St. Louis Innovation Camp. The audience was comprised of people looking to start their own business and the presentation offered them some guidance on how prototyping can help them.

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  • NameSt. Louis Born and Raised, on the Illinois SideBeen in the UX field over 3 yearsWorked for clients locally and all over the country
  • Title – User Experience DesignerIn truth that doesn’t really mean much as it’s a bucket titleDepending on the project, client, environment, budget, etc methods and process could be totally differentGoal = Making things easy to use, engaging, and emotionally satisfying
  • Recently a large discussion occurredTwitter -> Google Wave -> SkypeGoal = Explain UX for the both practitioners and for normal folk
  • Rollercoasters provide the best experiencesThese experiences are facilatetedThese image contains actually 6 experiences, though 4 are visibleExperiences can’t be controlled, but they can be designed for.
  • Many methods and techniquesWon’t go into detailed steps, a bit advancedGoing to show the 10,000 ft viewGoing to go fast to give time for Q&APhysical, Paper, and software based prototypes
  • The value of prototyping is greatReduces development timeIt’s naturally iterativeEasily testableSupplements/Replaces Documentation
  • As mentioned, prototyping is naturally iterativeStart generally, and work towards specificsExplore risky ideas
  • Always warned about not doing just because everyone else doesIn this case, we have a lot to learn from othersPrototyping has been part of many industry for years, and though it may go by different names
  • Any car that is produced goes through a detailed processDraftsMiniature ModelFull Size Clay ModelsConcept Cars
  • Architects model everything before even consider buildingAgain we see the process of Drafting -> Modeling ->EngineeringModels are what actually get the job sold, whole process relies on a prototype
  • Drilling costs money, lots and lots of moneyOn top of that, it’s very dangerousAll wells are modeled over and over before drilling startsIf the area is risky enough, a well will be modeling for over a year before anything touches the ground
  • While fairly complete, a Beta is still a prototypeGoogle is famous for leaving things in beta, which just means we are always just using a prototypeThis is a famous step for start ups, but it’s a mistake to make it your first prototype
  • So you’ve got your killer idea for a startupPrototyping gives you the outlet you need to bring it to lifeSomething can look great on paper, but paper is just so flat. It’s not representativeBuild your vision, start playing with it, tweaking it, testing it, and better yet selling it.
  • A detailed prototyping process is something everyone has to work out for themselvesBut there are some high level steps everyone followsAs we saw in the first video, and we will see in the last
  • Went to Danielle Cooley’s presentation yesterday?Even if you spend a day talking to people who could potentially be a user or customerGood research is where a good user experience always startsYou’ll always learn something you didn’t expect, which will always give you an advantage over competition
  • Somewhere along between the ages of 10-20 we become convinced we can’t drawThe good news, is we didn’t forget how to drawThe best way to rediscover our ability to draw is to pick up a journal of some kind, and start sketching your ideas rather than writing them out
  • Sketching allows for idea explorationGet out the obvious solutions, and explore the impossibleDon’t worry about good vs bad ideasThat time comes later
  • Once the well of ideas dries upCatalog all the ideas togetherKill the bad ones, merge the good onesCombine various ideas togetherKeep weeding away until just a handful of complete ideas are left
  • Sketched ideas should be about 80% doneTime to use digital tools to prototype your ideasPrototyping up the best of your ideas further pushes the limitsAlso leads you to the one idea that is best to move forward with
  • Fear notMany tools are WYSIWYG and Drag and DropPrototyping tools do produce ‘code’ but the point of a prototype is to be thrown away at the end
  • Got a crazy idea?Not sure how to make it happen?Fake it, using whatever tool necessary.Some prototyping tools, or even PowerPoint, allow for animations that are next to impossible to actually build
  • The moment of truthTake the prototype and get it out thereMany services allow you to test your concept quickly and at low costMuch of what Tammie talked about yesterday applies directly at this stage of the game
  • What are some tools for you to use? How accessible are they?
  • Axure – Visio like, but made specifically for wireframing and prototyping. Flash Catalyst – Newest prototyping tool available from Adobe. Paper – Cheap, Easy, and Perfect for flushing out complex ideasBalsamiq – Online based, cheap, first video used this toolHTML – Have a web coding background? Build something using available frameworks and jQuery
  • Silverback – Mac based remote testing toolLoop 11 & Usabilla – Online based remote testing toolsEthnio – Online User Research tool, surverys and testing toolsFiveSecondTest – Online gut check, perfect for testing call to actionsOptimal Workshop – Online testing tools, Card Sort tools
  • Can’t recommend these high enoughPerfect for getting started, finding real world examples, and diving deep into the detailsLots of what was mentioned in this presentation came directly from these books
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