Get Clear on Strategy
At its core, strategy is about prioritization. You need to choose and spend time on the key priorities that are going to make the end product AND the prototype a success – nothing else.
Most prototype projects donʼt start out this way. Managers often assemble a long wish list outlining their need for lots of features, an impressive visual design, fast development, re-usable code, etc. But to ensure a successful prototype, you need to:
1. Develop a very specific strategy
2. Make sure everyone on the team – developers, designers, managers – understands the strategy
3. Ensure that little or no time is spent on anything but the key priorities to bring the prototype to life.
It's critical to make sure the strategy for the product offering is clearly articulated and understood by all stakeholders. Usually, the prototype strategy, which also needs to be clearly defined, is targeting a different audience than the product strategy. For example, a product may be intended for consumers, but the prototype might be created for executives in your organization with an end-goal to secure budget, or to key clients to gather early-stage reactions and feedback.
So how do you actually determine the prototype strategy and key priorities? Start by tying things back to your business goals. Are you trying to make a business case to integrate WebRTC technology into your products to result in more seamless, cross-platform customer service? Are you trying to showcase the Metro design of your new Windows 8 migration to get customer feedback?
Tie the features and use cases in the prototype back to business goals. You should be able to summarize it in one sentence or one slide. We donʼt mean this as a general philosophical idea. We mean it literally. Nail this one slide and you empower everyone on the team to make the right decisions independently, and quickly.
Winning Prototypes: How to Capture Hearts & Minds of Stakeholders
A whitepaper by Martin Larochelle, Mary Pionkowski, and Didier Thizy.
About the Author
Mary Piontkowski is a user experience specialist who has worked with high-profile companies such as Adaptive Path, Organic, and Macromedia. Through her strategic approach, creative expertise, and mastery of a variety methods for design and innovation, Mary has helped build robust experiences for Fortune 100 and 500 companies such as Macy's, Levi's, PayPal, Sun Microsystems, Hasbro, Sprint, Allstate, and Microsoft. "I'm a strategic design leader who thrives in ambiguity -- situations that require change and transformation. My defining work revolves around digital experiences. I believe good design and innovation come from collaboration between cross functional teams and through close attention to user insights, business goals, and some instinct. I find that strong leadership requires a mix of soft and hard skills, from emotional intelligence and adaptable communication to strong facilitation and persuasion skills. I understand that the context of a situation must be understood in order to ultimately have influence within an organization and with end users alike. I believe in adhering to standards, but am always looking for opportunities for invention. While I am strongest in a leadership role, I believe that design leaders should always stay involved with the creative process."