Adjust Your Fidelity

UX on a budget.

Adjust your Fidelity

During the Q & A session for CS & UX: Putting the Pieces Together, my friend Josh Feig had a smart, very practical question (paraphrased) that I wanted to expand on:

How do you best apply the UX process to a project that has a tight timeline and limited budget?”

Whether you’re designing a digital product at a startup or you’re at an agency building a website for a client, budget and time will always be two constraints that have direct effects on the UX process. Designing an interface can be time intensive depending how much attention you allocate to each interaction. On top of that, explaining to a client how user experience design is an iterative process, which requires even more time and money, is a tough sell.

My suggestion is to lower the fidelity of your UX deliverables. Detailed wireframes created in Omnigraffle (or similar software) can be time-consuming to create while the same design problems can be solved by quickly sketching on paper or a whiteboard. Sketching is an undervalued technique that allows you to visualize tough design challenges without having to jump on a computer. It’s also a communication tool to convey complex interaction to the other members of your team more effectively than an email or wireframes alone.

Many agencies frown on presenting anything less than polished deliverables to the client, which is understandable. Clients pay good money for your expertise, and they deserve refined deliverables that inspire confidence in your abilities. Though, in my experience, clients are accepting of sketches as deliverables if you include them in the sketching process.

That’s right, bring the client in and sketch with them, then capture everything with your phone camera or an iPevo. Not only will you both have a better understanding of the project scope by defining the interactions together, you’ll save valuable time and budget by eliminating the need for formal wireframes, client presentations, revisions, and all the other unnecessary protocol that comes with the traditional agency model.