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The Virtues of Low-fi

The Virtues of Low-fi

With all our fancy tools, many are eager to jump into higher fidelity comps. This talk and mini-workshop on sketching was about staying low-fi for as long as possible in the design process, and treating design deliverables as process rather than product.

Presented at Amsterdam UX Crawl @ Catawiki in Amsterdam.

Stephen Hay

July 25, 2018
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  1. The Virtues
    of Low-fi
    Stephen Hay @ Catawiki
    UX Crawl • July 25, 2018

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  2. Hi! I’m Stephen.

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  3. Design/UX Deliverables

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  4. “The perfect is the enemy 

    of the good.”
    —Voltaire

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  5. Not the thing. Not the thing.
    The thing.

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  6. Design processes

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  7. Short low / long high
    Low-fi High-fi
    “I’ve been thinking about this for a whole hour, and I’ve got a great idea!”

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  8. Gradual low to high
    Low High
    Kinda high
    Kinda high Kinda high Kinda high Kinda high

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  9. Long low / short high
    Low-fi
    High-fi
    “I’m starting to understand the problem.”

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  10. The most important question:

    What’s most important?

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  11. The design funnel
    https://changethis.com/manifesto/show/48.04.DesignFunnel
    Many designers start here.
    Define
    Discover
    Generate
    Create
    Design
    Values & Goals
    Moods & Metaphors
    Ideas, Define a concept
    A Visual Language

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  12. Most of this
    can be low-fi

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  13. Fantasy-fi
    Usually needs high fidelity
    Interaction
    Sensory 

    Experience
    Content &

    structure
    “High” fidelity that 

    doesn’t offer much more
    than low fidelity, but
    requires High-fidelity effort.
    It’s the illusion of reality.
    Many “static” prototypes fall
    into this category. 

    High-fi wireframes also.

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  14. The virtues of low-fi

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  15. 1.
    Iterations are 

    quick and cheap

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  16. 2.
    Low-fi tooling is 

    minimal and flexible.

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  17. 3.
    Low-fi answers 

    questions early.
    “Nice.
    What about (x)?”
    “Oh, shit.”

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  18. 4.
    Low-fi encourages
    quantitative ideation.

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  19. 5.
    Low-fi encourages 

    “most important” thinking.
    It’s a meeting between your brain and
    the problem, with few distractions
    from tooling and processes.

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  20. Things that can be low-fi:
    • Sketching
    • Storyboards
    • Diagrams
    • (Paper) prototypes (but be careful!)
    • Planning
    • etc.
    These are actually subsets of sketching

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  21. Sketching is not art.

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  22. A simple sketching process
    for ideation…

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  23. No detail
    As many as possible
    As quickly as possible
    variety

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  24. Roughs
    PHOTO: Mike Rohde. Visit his blog: http://rohdesign.com/weblog/

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  25. Only a few, max.
    Flesh out your best ideas
    Focus on more detail (but not
    too much)
    Annotate, Ask & Answer
    questions

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  26. Thumbnails -> selection ->
    Roughs -> selection ->
    Comp/Prototype

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  27. Exercise 1:
    Sketch some thumbnails 

    for your project.
    1. No detail; just capture ideas!
    2. Make as many as you can in 5 minutes. It’s a numbers game!
    3. Don’t censor yourself; all ideas are relevant at this point.

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  28. Exercise 2:
    Make some rough sketches.
    1. Flesh out your best thumbnail ideas to see if they hold up.
    2. More detail, but not too much!

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  29. Sketching is one of your most important skills.
    It’s a translator between your brain and paper.
    It’s a note-taking tool.
    It’s a communication tool.
    It’s a thinking tool.
    It’s a filter.
    It’s a wayfinder. It’s the lowest of low-fi. Do it always.

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  30. Thank you!
    @stephenhay

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