I’m currently reading Kim Goodwin’s Designing for a Digital Age, and I like the way she breaks down project planning for interaction design. When a(n interactive product) project is introduced, whether through an official channel like a marketing requirements document or more informal means, she writes that the first considerations should be:
- the project intent
- whether the project is a redesign of something that exists currently or something new
- the project timeline
- the nature of the problem (are there knowns or unknowns?)
- the project budget
Use these guidelines at the beginning to interview stakeholders, get an understanding of the culture and get a gauge of how the project should be planned.
With small budgets, she says to think pragmatically, and look to where the most value can be found in the process of the project. Goodwin also recommends using these small projects to show the potential for future work and innovation through the design process. Larger budgets afford bigger thinking and more idealized scenarios to use as a starting point.
In understanding the problem, it’s important to get a sense of how all stakeholders define it, and to see if there is consensus around it. If there is not, use research as a tool to help build that consensus. Research also come in handy when dealing with a solution in search of s problem.
A sense of the project budget is important. If it’s unknown (or if people are unwilling to discuss it up front), introduce a scale of potential projects.
A project plan
The variables involved in creating a project plan are experience, skill, support and time. Goodwin notes that planning a project is an iterative process, and advises that one starts with an idealized timeline. Her other advice falls within the typical project management bounds – watching for scope creep, setting milestones and check-ins with stakeholders, etc.
Goodwin sees the process of designing an interactive product or service in five phases:
1. Research. Consideration include, how many people are being interviewed, how much travel is involved and that one week of research needs at least one week to synthesize.
2. Modeling and requirements definition.
3. Framework definition. Considerations include; concept exploration vs. a simple, quick solution, the interaction framework and hardware architecture, the number of unique software interface, how complex or multi-interface the product is and the structural and language design.
4. Detailed design. Often includes drafts of key path scenarios and the visual system. Goodwin advises chunking the design so that engineering can parallel. She feels that as long as the structure is well worked out in advance, fixes should only be minor.
5. Ongoing design support.