The Second stage of the User Interface Design Brief has been a difficult process. Working in a small group has its difficulties, but the sheer amount of information that we have created, and included in the brief has made it impossible to maintain an organised narrative.
Added to that, despite many of the details being already in writing from stage 1, we still all have slightly different views on how to implement the details. It is only once we started creating prototypes and visual elements that this became clear.
Fast turn around
The relatively quick turn around of this stage has also meant that we have had limited time to work in person, as a group. This has resulted in alot of online collaboration, where there are lots of opportunities for misunderstandings.
The limited time for this stage has also meant that the actual design stages were performed somewhat in parallel, further exacerbating any differences of option or ambiguities in the previous design brief. We have also had to limit the number of iterations of the designs due to the time constraints.
The lessons I take from this is to ensure that each part is thoroughly complete before moving onto the next. Going back to alter previous designs can result in errors in later work. For example, a minor change in the structural design will have implications for the visual design.
It also became clear that the user research is critical. While we have more user research than most, we are still lacking in sheer quantity, and sometimes our research sample size (of 23 eight and nine year old children) is just inadequate to prove something statistically. Nevertheless, the power of user research and personas has become clear.
Clear connection to other courses
It has also become clear how this course relates to a number of other courses. At the present moment, I am studying System Analysis and Design as well as Web Programming. These 3 courses have a clear interconnection, and there is some crossover. Many of the visual modelling techniques taught in System Analysis and Design have been used in both of the other courses. For example, the Structural Design diagram has been used in both User Interface Design, and Web Programming.
The value of User Research is clear, and it is also apparent that there is a gulf of difference between a project where this process has been completed correctly, and one where it has been ignored or done half heartedly.