Make

Create a testable solution.

Design pattern library

What

A collection of UI elements used frequently across a design system, consisting of the base patterns and helpful information about how to use them.

Why

To aid in designing a solution that uses UI elements consistently. Maintaining a set of approved, reusable patterns makes it easier to produce new features or make updates to the current solution.

Time required

1–2 hours per pattern; ongoing maintenance.

How to do it

  1. Start identifying common components as early as possible, ideally while you and the team are creating new design elements. These common pieces form the patterns that you will create guidelines for. Specify the components that make up each UI pattern and note possible constraints or restrictions.
  2. Describe or visualize how someone will use the pattern and how it should respond to the user. (For example: how a button renders on load, hover, and click.) Provide any data as to why it is good for the end user.
  3. Include any code or snippets that front end developers can use to implement the pattern.
  4. Show examples of how the same pattern could work in different solutions.
  5. Publish the design pattern library in an open, accessible space where the product team can use and extend it. (Common implementations of a design pattern library are in a wiki or brand style guide.)

Applied in government research

No PRA implications. No information is collected from members of the public.

18F

Prototyping

What

A rudimentary version, either static or functional, of something that exhibits realistic form and function.

Why

To enable direct examination of a design concept’s viability with a number of other methods such as usability testing or a cognitive walkthrough. Static prototypes (often paper) are helpful for gaining feedback on users’ intentions and various design elements. Functional prototypes (often coded) are helpful for observing how users interact with the product.

Time required

4 hours

How to do it

  1. Create a rudimentary version of your product. It can be static or functional. Think in the same way you would about a wireframe: demonstrate structure and relationships among different elements, but don't worry about stylized elements.
  2. Give the prototype to the user and observe their interactions without instruction.
  3. After this observation, ask them to perform a specific task.
  4. Ask clarifying questions about why they do what they do. Let the user's behavior guide the questions you ask. It can be helpful to have them narrate their thought process as they go along.
  5. Iterate! Prototypes should be quick and painless to create, and even more quick and painless to discard.

Applied in government research

No PRA implications. The PRA explicitly exempts direct observation and non-standardized conversation, 5 CFR 1320.3(h)3. See the methods for Recruiting and Privacy for more tips on taking input from the public.

18F

Wireframing

What

A simple visual representation of a product or service interface.

Why

To prioritize substance and relationships over decoration as you begin defining the solution. Wireframing also gives designers a great opportunity to start asking developers early questions about feasibility and structure.

Time required

1-3 hours

How to do it

  1. Build preliminary blueprints that show structure, placement, and hierarchy for your product. Steer clear of font choices, color, or other elements that would distract both the researcher and the reviewer. Lightweight designs are conceptually easier to reconfigure. A few helpful tools for building wireframes are OmniGraffle and Balsamiq, which purposefully keep the wireframe looking like rough sketches.
  2. Use this opportunity to start listing what UX/UI patterns you will need.
  3. Review your wireframes with specific user scenarios and personas in mind. Can users accomplish their task with the wireframe you are sketching out?
  4. Use the wireframes to get the team's feedback on feasibility and structure.

Applied in government research

No PRA implications. No information is collected from members of the public.

18F