I'm David Little, a user experience researcher and designer

Deciding in the browser

Posted: November 28, 2013

I attended the Lean UX London on “Deciding in the browser” last night in which we worked in teams of three or four on a design brief for the multiple sclerosis support network shift.ms. ┬áIt was a great opportunity to try a very quick lean approach to getting ideas off paper and into the browser as soon as we could (we had about an hour and half in total so there was no messing around).

The gist of the brief was to design an area for those living with MS to discover resources and have discussions, arranged around themes such as work, family, mobility and lifestyle. Considering the time limitations I think we did ok considering, although our final prototype was missing a lot of the finesse of some of the other teams’ (no pictures and no icons!).

We basically created three screens, only two of which we managed to get into the browser. We concentrated on providing entry points to discussions and resources thematically and looking at ways in which we might reduce the friction for someone wanting to get involved in the conversation themselves. One influence for the discussion area was a Stack Overflow type approach of allowing questions and answers (or comments) to be voted up or down. We started to think about how we might mark discussions as moderated, e.g. by a more experienced member of the community or a health professional, but again only managed to make a start on that.

On top of this we also gave some thought on how we might feature stories of those who’d been living with MS and how these stories might provide inspiration for others. We thought these might work well as “sidebar” content, possibly also voted for by the community.

The team consisted of me, an IA and UI developer. I basically took on the role of sketching, although we took a generally collaborative approach (with the exception of leaving our developer at the helm of the laptop!). We moved quickly from some basic IA work, through sketches to basic html prototypes, created with Bootstrap.

As an exercise it was really interesting, although personally I’m not sure I’d be that in favour of working in this way in my day job. It’s great to see ideas coming together so quickly, but one problem of diving straight into the browser is it could be limiting in terms of the direction you end up taking. Also, I personally prefer to have a little more space for reflection before moving beyond initial ideas into the browser. But, this was an artificial exercise and more about thinking in the browser so maybe I’m being picky!

Shift MS sketch

Shift MS prototype

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