Our client really liked the work we did on their Technology Teaser and is looking for us to help them make the next big step with an integrated development environment (IDE) they call "Builder" today. Their customers are building these amazing mobile AR apps by hand today, and this tool should help them get the basic UI elements in place even faster.
The current version is home-grown and designed by the development team. It has some amazing functionality, but the designers are too close to the problem to see some of the most basic issues with learning and usability. Users who can mind-read the application developers intent will figure it out, maybe, after watching a few youtube videos.
How might we restructure the IDE so new users can better create and manage their projects, and make sense of the critical development challenges?
If we can hear directly from the client engineering lead, then a lot of the confusing bits of working on this pre-release software can be cleared up. We're starting out with pieces that don't work completely because it's a pre-release build. They're also one of our key stakeholders, so it's really important we learn how to work with them.
Internally, we have some important bias to overcome because we know how to build user interfaces, we have our own ideas about what good design means. Let's make sure we evaluate some contemporary IDE platforms for delivering well-designed experiences.
I've got a picture forming in my head, and that means something here is worth sketching. It can take a few iterations on these before it starts to look like anything intelligible. In this case, let's go fast and get a bunch of versions on paper.
Trying out new tools can be fun and engaging. It can also supply a different set of constraints than you're used to. The result of asking yourself "how do I communicate effectively with these tools" can be an accidental insight. We've got a fresh copy of Adobe Experience Design in beta, so let's see how well that works.
XD turns out to be a decent tool for not getting too far into the weeds. It's under active development, and gets updated about once a month. Take a peek at the prototype
We have a limited window to share our vision and talk about what enhancements we think are the essence of this design. It's part layout, part overall feel, and some select micro-interactions. Since our audience started with the development-UI team showing off their product's current state, we can share the journey we took getting to this envisionment, and all the details about how we think the next major version would work.
It'll be up to them to decide what parts of our envisionment make the most sense to build today, build tomorrow, or build never (that's ok too). The feedback we're hearing is that we have an excellent grasp of the challenges in their application, and a strong take on how to resolve them. From a development team, this is high praise.
- Client: PTC, ThingWorx
- Skills: sketching, ideation, product safari, prototyping, presenting design
- Tools: pencil, Adobe Experience Design, InVision Boards