“What rapid prototyping tools or methods do you use to quickly communicate design during early project phases?”
All projects are unique and are treated individually. It’s difficult to summarize the initial creative phase as no two projects are the same. For example, we’re either creating a complex interactive touchscreen, a 30-second broadcast ad, or a short-motion graphics video. Each one has a different beginning, middle, and end for the process. However, we believe that it is appropriate to break it down into two primary categories – storyboards and wireframes. Keep in mind that this is after you’ve already locked in the project with the client and are ready for the project kick-off.
After a project is signed, the teams involved discuss the entire project in detail with the client. This is either in-person or over a conference call. The kick-off call will discuss the brand guidelines, overall look and feel, and the objectives the client has. After this, call the agency and the client should have a thorough understanding of next steps and what the content is going to look like.
Storyboards (The Big Idea)
Communicating a great idea to a client can be difficult with just conversation and briefs. Sometimes, you need a bit of a visual aid to best explain a video’s story or inspired interactive touchscreen response. This is a job for the storyboard.
Storyboards are shot-by-shot sketches with a script that communicates how a sequence or story will unfold. Roughly illustrated sketches are laid out almost like a comic, serving as a visual aid to show not only what is going to happen, but the composition, angles, and visual details that will be included.
A storyboard is not only a way to communicate an idea, but it’s also a tool for planning how your idea will be produced. Having a reference will help keep you on track by having a clear understanding of how visuals and interactions will play out. This saves both time and energy. It’s much easier to plan ahead than to wing it when under pressure.
While traditionally done by hand, even this process is moving into the digital space. If the idea of showing your chicken scratch stick figures to a client makes you lose sleep, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and XD are all useful programs that offer a bit more finesse and in the case of XD, can simulate basic interactive responses.
Whatever your approach, what’s most important is that you make a clear reference that gets the point across. Including storyboarding in the ideation stage can be a great way to share your idea, communicate clearly, and set the groundwork for planning the production stage.
Communicating a touchscreen concept and how it will interact is difficult. One primary challenge is illustrating how you want the UI/UX to be without going through the lengthy effort of designing it. These scenarios are where wireframes play in our favor.
A wireframe is exactly as it sounds. It’s a simple way to use blocks, lines, and simple illustrations to walk the client through the overall experience. Wireframes can show the homepage, where each ‘button’ goes, and the overall user flow.
Wireframes also deliver a way to lock in concepts prior to having clients see creative. Sometimes it’s hard for clients to look past the overall design and get caught up in a color that’s not typically used in their branding or even down to fonts. These hurdles increase the stress of everyone involved and can impact timelines.
While no scenario or project is the same, each one can have the preliminary concepts locked in by detailed storyboards or simple wireframes.