A couple of weeks ago when I talked about
Feature Bob Invented, I mentioned that we use PowerPoint as an easy way to
prototype UI, especially in the early stages of design. A number of people have asked me
for more details, and so today I thought I'd go through it step-by-step.
We use PowerPoint as kind of a better version of
This technique has several advantages: prototypes can be made to feel somewhat interactive, because the content
is electronic it can be modified more easily than paper, and (best of all) the
usability participant uses the mouse and is on the computer, so it feels natural to them.
In my opinion, paper prototypes always suffer a little bit because of the
weirdness of asking people to pretend paper is the monitor and a pencil is the
mouse. (Although I guess with the advent of Tablet PC's, this is becoming less
Note: The following technique will only work for PowerPoint 2002 and above.
Previous versions did not include sufficient support for transparent AutoShapes.
The way we normally set up PowerPoint prototypes is this:
Now, that your overall prototype is set up, it's time to add interactivity. Let's
say you have a button, and when
someone clicks on that button, you want it to simulate bringing up a menu. Easy
enough, assuming you have added slides containing pictures of both states
(pre-menu and while the menu is up.)
You're good to go! We've found that this technique has yielded some very
useful prototypes with a minimum amount of work.