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Prototyping training pilot

Prototyping training is something I’ve been keen on getting off the ground for a long while now. With the help of ux consultant Marianne O’Loughlin, we ran a pilot of a new training course this week.

It’s a technique I’ve used on website and Polopoly CMS development projects for years. I find it invaluable in clarifying, testing and communicating requirements and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve saved tens of thousands of pounds in development time (technical and editorial) by prototyping early in the process.

Balsamiq prototyping tool

We got the Balsamiq prototyping tool integrated into the wiki service back in 2010 in collaboration with other service teams in IS. A little while after, I developed a training session with Liza Zamboglou which we ran at a Jisc usability event hosted at the National e-Science Centre.

But despite the Balsamiq plugin proving incredibly popular, we never managed to find the time to establish this training into the regular provision of IS. I think it’s testament to the usefulness and accessibility of Balsamiq that it’s so popular without any real promotion.

Working with an external consultant

Enter Marianne O’Loughlin. We were already working together on persona training, so I thought why not? We were already over half way there with the previous pilot session, and Marianne brought her own perspective and over 10 years’ UX consulting experience to finish the job.

She ran a pilot session for 12 colleagues this week, providing a seminar intro to prototyping before setting attendees a design challenge that they began on paper before moving on to Balsamiq.

The session was very well received:

A very good as a starter session… [and] …definitely of value to a novice.

The session was very useful especially the practical elements…

Great introduction to the time-saving and thought-provoking concept of prototyping. When exposed to technical tools like Balsamiq, it’s easy to get lost in tinkering with the possibilities; using paper tools to narrow down the concept beforehand was shown to be a considerable time saver.

And I’m really pleased to announce that Marianne will be running the session for us a further three times between now and the summer, during which time we’ll refine the course and hand over for UWP colleagues to continue to deliver on an ongoing basis.

Dates will be confirmed soon via the usual email channels.

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