Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
First Exposure
My first exposure to Excel as a software prototyping tool came while I was working
at PeopleSoft as a senior interaction designer in the Financial Applications User
Experience group. I was assigned to a project that was already well into the early
stages of application design. The project team gave me some printouts of
prototype screens representing the current state of the design so that I could review
them and get up to speed with the design. The paper prototypes that I was given
were clean and accurate, although their representation of the interface was a bit
rough around the edges. Given that this was the early stage of the design process,
the prototypes fulfilled their purpose and clearly described the interface.
While reviewing the screen printouts, I was curious about the tool that was used to
build them, so I asked for the original files. Much to my surprise, Mark Miller, a lead
engineer on the team, sent me an Excel file. This caught me off guard because I had
always thought of Excel as the preferred program of accountants and managers
working on budgets and analyses. Up to then I had never used Excel much and,
unfortunately, had no time to learn more due to the accelerated development
schedule for this project. I was left to review the paper printouts of the prototypes
Mark made, penciling in design recommendations to the team. I did notice that no
matter how quickly I sent the changes in, Mark created new corrected prototypes.
I have always prided myself on being able to quickly turn around changes, so
I was impressed with the agility and speed with which Mark updated these
prototypes. I made a mental note to find out more about prototyping in Excel when I had
the chance.
The early iterative design phase of the project was nearing its end and most of the
pages had been sketched out. It then became my job to convert them to
Dreamweaver as was PeopleSoft process at the time. I gathered up the latest printouts
of the prototypes and spent about two weeks rebuilding them in Dreamweaver.
PeopleSoft had created Dreamweaver design templates, which made the process
relatively painless. When I had finished, I sent them to Mark for review. I received
a very courteous note that thanked me for the attractive prototypes. But apparently
in the time that it had taken me to build them, many of the concepts had been
evolved by the developers and my prototypes were obsolete. I groaned, thinking
about how much work it was going take to update them in addition to maintaining
the Dreamweaver files going forward. I compared my prototypes with the newest
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