Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Communication with Clients

One of the first political stumbling blocks we encountered with our wire- frames in project A was their use in client discussions. Our aim in initial client meetings was to arrive at agreement about how the site would work in terms of navigation, and the kinds of content for each page such as photos, text, tables and so on. However, because of the apparently realistic content and dynamic behaviour, the client tended to focus on small details of content rather than broad views of the navigational and content structure - the very aspects on which we wanted feedback. For example, we put fictional prices with their products, and used fictional attributes to illustrate how real attributes would be displayed. While this approach saves time in developing prototypes, as real values do not have to be researched, the client latched on to these specific parts of the prototype asking questions such as "do we really sell them at that price" and "I didn't realize that product came in that colour". Constantly explaining the rough nature of the prototype meant that we concentrated on small details rather than discussing the overall nature of the proposed web-site.

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In terms of our dimensions we would suggest that at this early stage of our ideas the prototype was too high in fidelity for the target audience (the clients). In retrospect, it would have been better to use rougher prototypes at this stage with the client, e.g. paper prototypes, or clickable paper-looking prototypes using a computer to show the navigational flow.

In Project B the wireframe worked relatively well as a communication tool with the client. It made it relatively easy to explain and discuss ideas of information structure and functionality with the client as the wire frame made it very concrete. The problem with the wireframe in Project B was that theclient thought the wire frame was close to the final site but for us it was not. This led to problems when communicated to the external graphic design agency (see Communicating with Graphic Designers). We had different interpretations of the fidelity of the wireframe which led to political tensions.

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