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RE: [agile-usability] Visual design -- how is it integrated?

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  • Jade Ohlhauser
    First, what we might call our visual design is a few separate areas with different design methods. Superficial: Things like color scheme, fonts, etc. are
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 23, 2005
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      First, what we might call our visual design is a few separate areas with different design methods.
       
      Superficial: Things like color scheme, fonts, etc. are completely separated from the client-side code using CSS. This includes the superficial elements of common controls and elements. When I'm designing a page I don't worry about the color of a grid, I just add a grid and the correct look has already been determined. Because of this, the superficial design can happen independently of the feature design & development and is also easy to change on existing features. This isn't to say the designs are isolated from each other, on the contrary new features often require new superficial design work, however they aren't really dependant on each other. The superficial design process on it's own is mostly gathering feedback on examples. There are also high level "look and feel" type discussions on overall interface "influences" (who are we going to try and look like, something that helps users) and branding (but we still want our own product recognition).
       
      Interaction: Things like which controls, how are they laid out, message wording, data format returned etc. This is the important design and it's completely tied into the actual code programming from a development point of view. Because we are a web app, we rely heavily on HTML mockups. Every feature starts out as a functional spec and mockups. In the beginning these are pretty rough, and over the course of development both will grow and get more detail. In a way, you could say the visual design is done before the code, except I would never use the word "done". Let's say it's started first. In my mind there's no way to start coding first because depending on the desired interaction behavior of the interface, the same feature concept could require vastly different architecture and algorithms. By the way, our developers have responded vary positively to accurate mockups. Maybe "a mockup is worth a thousand UML diagrams"? :)
       
      Now it just so happens that with our smaller team I am both the usability lead and the visual design lead, so the two can't help but be done together. It's also nice because as the Product Manager I own the schedule, so I can make sure usability and design details don't get "pushed off". I agree completely that even superficial design details can make an important difference in final usability and at this company you could say that the interface is king.
       
      Jade Ohlhauser
      Product Manager
      RPM Software                                 
      www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
       


      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jeff Lash
      Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2005 2:08 PM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [agile-usability] Visual design -- how is it integrated?

      Discussion has been a bit slow lately so maybe this will get some
      interest -- how do you integrate visual design on agile projects?

      I know how I've been doing it, and what has worked well, but I'm
      curious to hear about others' experiences.

      I'm wondering, do you:
      - Not work with a visual design because your applications don't
      require one (e.g. internal system where you don't feel it's important)
      - Do the visual design yourself
      - Work with a visual designer who applies the design to each iteration
      - Work with a visual designer who applies the visual design before a
      release
      - Some other option...?

      And what tasks/deliverables do you associate with a visual designer?
      (It would be helpful to what medium you're talking about -- web
      site/application, shrinkwap software, touchscreen, etc.)

      Obviously, some of the visual design relates more to
      branding/marketing than usability, but it's amazing how much a good
      visual design can enhance (or sometimes save) the usability of an
      interface.

      Jeff


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