UX Documentation 2.0: Designing the Rich Internet Experience

I recently had the chance to present at two different user experience conferences. While the venues were different, the subject matter was the same—user experience documentation for rich interfaces.

First was the Web 2.0 Expo in New York, back in September. I had a packed house for a three-hour workshop. Then just a few weeks ago, I covered the same topic for a smaller crowd, in a one-hour presentation at Web Builder 2.0 in Las Vegas.

Why this topic? As the work we do at Roundarch moves away from the “page” metaphor and toward richer, more interactive experiences, we designers are faced with moving beyond the site map and static wireframe. We need to be able to communicate more fluid interfaces and interactions.

Sometimes this means documenting very detailed functionality and almost infinite “states,” or representing motion in a static medium. But it can also mean stepping back to paint a broader picture—establishing and communicating the fundamental approach for a site’s interactions – to build consensus before the detailed work begins.

My presentation covered several highly-visual documentation techniques, which attempt to communicate the exact right amount of information—to the right stakeholders—at the right points in the project. From presenting a high-level concept map or user experience brief to an executive, to producing a usable functional spec for visual designers and developers, to building a proof-of-concept prototype, we touched on a wide range of deliverables. Supporting each example were tips on when and why to use a particular documentation method, best practices for design, limitations and challenges, and special considerations for rich Internet applications.

Links:
Web 2.0 Expo

Web Builder 2.0

For an outside perspective on the New York workshop, take a look at this attendee’s blog entry.

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