UI/UX design and prototyping

Most people think of User Interface (UI) design as simply being concerned with the layout and presentation of controls on individual screens, pages, or windows. And while that's partly true, designing a software product or web application for maximum usability requires a more fundamental approach involving consideration of the following aspects:

  • User Experience (UX) design considers all the factors that contribute to the impressions and experience that a user has as they interact with a product. UX design encompasses things like the overall visual appearance, the "feel" (including responsiveness and feedback) of controls, branding, documentation and help, the product acquisition experience (e.g., signing up for a service or downloading and installing an app), packaging (if applicable), and even the structure of interactions with the organization's sales or support staff (if applicable).

  • Information Architecture (IA) design is typically conducted during requirements engineering activities and deals with the structure of information managed by your application: What are the information objects, tasks, and activities and how are they organized? How are they named or otherwise identified? How are they interrelated? What search functionality is available?

  • Interaction Design (ID) extends the Information Architecture design and deals with practical questions like: How are tasks and activities presented? What is the flow of tasks? When are tasks considered complete? How is navigation presented? How is context information (like the current location) and feedback presented? How are data validation and error reporting handled? What transactional states exist for information objects? At what point is data considered to be "saved", and how does the user know this? What can be undone? In multi-user environments, what data is visible to whom and editable by whom? How does the system react when multiple users attempt to modify the same data simultaneously?

Specification and prototyping

How can the UI/UX design, information architecture design, and interaction design be communicated to the team members responsible for building and testing the product?

GUI designs and the broader application concept design can be specified in style guides and specification documents of varying degrees of formality, together with prototypes. The right combination depends on your particular project team and product requirements, as well as the degree to which you are comfortable with agile approaches.

Low-fidelity prototypes

Low-fidelity prototypes are mockups of user interfaces sketched on paper or with computer-based sketching tools. Low-fidelity prototypes are intentionally "rough", for instance, using hand-drawn simulations of user interface elements rather than photorealistic images. They are easily changed and serve to facilitate discussion and debate about the best layouts and interaction designs. Low-fidelity prototypes are valuable for exploring concepts and gaining consensus on approaches before time and effort is invested in implementation work which is costly to change.

High-fidelity prototypes

High-fidelity prototypes are realistic mockups of user interfaces that are rapidly implemented in software or as a web page, and which simulate or demonstrate limited aspects of functionality, such as navigation, or a walk-through of a task scenario.

Kevin Matz has a broad experience with a variety of languages, GUI toolkits, application frameworks, and GUI design tools for both web and desktop applications, allowing the quick production of high-fidelity working prototypes that your team can evaluate, interact with, and extend.

Pragmatic and feasible design

Visual designers without a technical background are sometimes known for designing pretty but fanciful interfaces that are not realistically implementable, or which look attractive as static snapshots but for which the interactions and special cases have not been carefully considered.

Kevin Matz has years of experience designing and implementing web and desktop applications and is careful to design interfaces that are feasible with your UI toolkit and other technical constraints.


Can Winchelsea Systems help your project succeed? Contact Kevin Matz for current availability.

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