Design Party II: Prototyping For All

Summary: We exercised prototyping and learned how pen, paper, a tight deadline and a focus on the process can help generate, share and validate new ideas.

Envato's Design Party is a 2-hour session organised by the Design Team of Envato Market, where non-designers get a chance to practice design thinking. During our very first design party we generated lots of ideas in the form of scribbles, wireframes and storyboards. This time around we ventured even further into the world of clickable prototypes.

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It was exciting to see people who don't usually work together teaming up to find solutions to problems that real users face on Envato Market, and then watching a tester use their prototype for the first time.

The Paper Prototypes

Teams were encouraged to use a combination of pen, paper and InVision to create their prototypes, that we kept delibrately simple because of time constraints: get insight with little cost! This is what the teams came up with.

Problem: Buyers are abandoning shopping carts without purchasing.

Team: Ben Fornarino, Fiorella Rizzà, Ronja Lubeck, Anthony Bordonaro

Idea: Casual users may want to add items to cart instead of using the favourites / collections feature, and then buy one item without losing track of their activity. The solution is to allow users to save their shopping cart list and return to it later.
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Prototype: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/WF20D59RK
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Problem: Buyers have no way to buy instantly via credit card.

Team: Mary-Anne Cosgrove, Matt Grant

Idea: Our remote team came up with two ideas. The first was a simple tweak to the existing flow to enable credit card purchases. The second was a bigger restructure of the purchase flow enabling anonymous users to purchase without having to create an account.

Prototype 1: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/PN20D3CAK
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Prototype 2: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/KB20D537P
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Problem: First-time visitors need to figure out for themselves how Envato Market will help solve their problem.

Team: Matt Doyle, Martin Jagusch, Shevaun Coker, Loan Banh

Idea: Instead of simply listing what each item is and leaving it to the buyer to figure out what to do with it, this solution gives examples of how the item can be used in creative projects. A good example of how contextual placement of information can help engage users better than a generic landing page.

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Prototype: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/NM20D5ER9
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Problem: Header layout and navigation is confusing to new users.

Team: Trung Lê, Pete Yandell, Layla Foord

Idea: Remove the two middle layers of navigation, namely the sub-brands and the categories. Instead of focusing on brands, the focus is placed on item types. The 8 sub-brands are a barrier to entry: users will find an item more easily by looking for the type (flyer, website mockup, stock footage) than the brand (GraphicRiver, ThemeForest, VideoHive).

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Prototype: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/F820D3IGU

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Problem: ThemeForest buyers can’t preview lists of items efficiently (home page, collections, search results).

Team: Luke Meehan, Michelle Robinson, Akshay Sachdeva, Eric Schwartz

Idea: Allow buyers to easily shortlist and preview multiple items without needing to open each item in a separate tab. Buyers can easily remove items from their shortlist, and once happy with the selection, instantly buy all items.

This team made clever use of paper cutouts in this prototype showing just how much is possible with a pen, paper, InVision and a bit of creativity.

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Prototype: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/3920D68BG

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Problem: Item rejections fail to provide the necessary information and direction for authors.

Team: Max Ryan, Fabiano Morais, Stewart Boon, Peter Tsipas

Idea: Kudos to this team for spending a lot of time analysing and reframing the problem. The solution was focused on setting clearer expectations for authors. The goal was to improve the upload experience and at the same time make the author's experience slightly easier to deal with, in case their item gets rejected.

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Prototype: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/4J21BLRY5

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Lessons learned

  • Pick the right tools. Pen and paper are as accessible as it gets. Most people got the hang of InVision, although everyone was caught out by a bug where images uploaded from a phone didn't display the right way up. Luckily it was only a minor hurdle and people were up and running pretty quick.
  • Time box everything. While it’s great to see people being so eager to share ideas and exchange thoughts, it’s important to set a timer for every task - especially when you only have two hours. This doesn’t just allow you to complete the session on time; it helps people to optimise their time and make the most out of it.
  • The goal is the process, not the outcome. It was nice to see all the finalised prototypes. Yet the real impact we were aiming for was to get people involved in design thinking, and see how easy it can be to express an idea with very simple tools.
  • Let individual ideas foster. At the start of the session we placed people into teams. Group thinking can quickly arise from this process. Naturally extroverted personalities were dominating discussions. While collaboration is important, it is worth leaving time for parallel design so individual ideas can be explored fully, before they are merged together.

Next time: Testing the prototypes with real users

Creating a prototype and watching as someone with fresh eyes uses it is a valuable exercise in testing ideas. Our next aim is to involve real Envato users and observe them as they use the prototypes, in order to get more accurate feedback.

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