So what is it that I did yesterday?

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Yeah.. I mean you would ask such as question, as the one above in the title of the post, to yourself when you probably had worked really just a day before and today you happen to be comparatively a little eased. So in retrospection I am posing this question to myself, “So what is it that I did yesterday?”.  Apparently the answer to this question is relatively simpler than I imagined. It is either one activity or the other… something with a well define goal to be completed in a shorter time. However what is interesting me more now, as I look back, are a bunch of new things which I discovered. I was involved with an UI assignment where I was struggling to produce quick prototypes. For those who are not familiar with the domain, UI is an acronym for User Interface. The assignment demands me to create sufficiently detailed prototypes which I can use to illustrate the workflows and individual screens. Fighting against the time I tried couple of things, right from Photoshop to Illustrator, Balsamiq, Pidoco and so many of these. Every link got me to a new product page where I am shown a tutorial video telling me how to use the specific tool. Come on.. I have no time to view tutorials, give me something easy to understand and operate. At least for god’s sake please don’t ask me to Sign Up to try. Soon I realized that perhaps I’m asking for too much or I’m knocking at the wrong door. I could also be blamed as a hurried user who wants things at his finger tips. Whatever, my reality stays with me at the end. I just could not use these tools.

Anyways lets come to the interesting bit. At the time when I started putting off with this show I came across, almost accidentally, a webpage. It showed me simple tools to help one creating paper prototypes. Let me insert that link here. It is simply amazing. What they provide is a set of layouts as PDF files which you can print. These include different graph layouts like equally spaced dots, grids, storyboard etc. These layouts are flexible enough and one can feel at home while creating paper prototypes. The layout which I used is a dot graph. I printed several copies of dot graph on A4 papers. Paper prototyping was so quick with these dotted graph papers. I think I discovered something simple, yet highly effective yesterday. BTW, if you notice the image that I have used at the beginning of this post is one of my paper prototypes 🙂

Here is something else for designers.

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Few of the UI assignments companies ask Designers to attempt

As I ponder on UI design, I am reminded of some of the assignments which I have encountered while appearing for a UX design position with one company or the other. I think these are interesting to list and to share with the audience of this blog. Here are some of those;

1. Design an application interface which could let people plan their circular journeys. The interface should deliver a seamless user experience which will allow users to plan their circular journeys, seek availability through a specific mode of travel (bus, railways or airways) and book reservations. The users should feel in control of the process and close to requisite information as they plan their itinerary.

2. (Re)Design the interface of a social networking game hosted on FB. Start by re-evaluating the existing interface and move close to identifying usability failures. Note down the breaks in information architecture and task flows. Present a complete picture of few of the redesigned task flows and illustrate the user experience.

3. Design the user experience for an online application that lets user browse for a specific medical specialist in an area. Lay emphasis on the geo-tagged medical facilities and their possible discovery by a user who is new to the town.

4. (Re)Design the IRCTC* web interface. Suggest improvements and focus on moments of frustrations and delights that a user goes through while using the interface.

5. Design an interface and list user experience for a universal remote to be used in home settings. Consider the product design of the remote as well. Imagine that the remote has to be used to control an interactive television, a personal computer and a set of multimedia devices.

This isn’t such an exhaustive list of assignments but it seems that these are the latest obsessions of UI design industry in India. I am documenting these for two specific reasons. First to gauge the entire gamut of assignments companies ask their candidates to attempt. Secondly I hope that with this explicit understanding of assignments it might be possible to stretch the imagination of UI design scenarios. May be readers will suggest more!