We introduce informal prototyping tools as an important way to speed up the early-stage design of mobile interactions, by lowering the barrier to entry for designers and by reducing the cost of testing. We use two tools, SUEDE and Topiary, as proofs of concept for informal prototyping tools of mobile interactions. These tools address the early stage design of two important forms of mobile interactions: speechbased and location-enhanced interactions. In particular, we highlight storyboarding and Wizard of Oz (WOz) testing, two commonly used techniques, and discuss how they can be applied to address different domains. We also illustrate using a case study: the iterative design of a location-enhanced application called Place Finder using Topiary. In this chapter we hope to give the reader a sense of what should be considered as well as possible solutions for informal prototyping tools for mobile interactions.
Key Terms in this Chapter
User Interface Prototyping: A practice of creating user interface mockups to test some aspects of a target interactive system.
Informal UI Prototyping Tools: A type of UI prototyping tool that fluidly supports an informal UI prototyping practice. These tools maintain an “informal” look and feel, use fluid input techniques (e.g., sketching) and can automatically generate testable, interactive prototypes.
UI Prototyping Tools: Electronic tools supporting a user interface prototyping process.
Speech-Based Interfaces: A type of user interface in which the user input is submitted mainly via speech. A computer system responds based on either recognized words or vocal variation of the speech. The interface output is typically auditory (e.g., when it is on a phone) or visual.
Location-Enhanced Applications: Computer applications that leverage the location of people, places and things to provide useful services to users. For example, based on the user’s current location, show the nearby restaurants or friends. By using the location context, this type of application reduces explicit input required from a user (such as mouse clicks or typing).
Informal Prototyping: A type of user interface prototyping used in the early stages of design in which designers explore a design space by focusing on key interaction ideas rather than visual (e.g., color or alignment) or implementation details. These details are often better considered when creating hi-fidelity prototypes at a later stage. Paper prototyping is a representative form of informal prototyping in which designers draw interfaces as well as interaction flows on paper.
Graphical Storyboarding: A technique that informal prototyping tools often employ for designers to describe how an interface should behave. Like a state transition diagram (STD), it has the concepts of states and transitions. However, in graphical storyboarding these states and transitions represent high level UI components or events rather than the computational elements found in a traditional STD.
Wizard of Oz Testing: A technique for testing an incomplete interface mockup, named after the movie the Wizard of Oz. In this technique, a wizard (often played by a designer) fakes an incomplete (or nonexistent) system component to conduct early user evaluations, (e.g., a wizard can simulate speech recognition when testing a speech-based interface or location tracking when testing a location-enhanced application).
Sketch-Based User Interfaces: A type of user interface in which users interact with a computer system by drawing with a pen. The drawings can be recognized and interpreted as commands, parameters or raw digital ink. This type of interface has shown promise in supporting domains such as UI design, mechanical design, architectural design and note-taking.