Iterative non-functional prototyping

By Gordon Rugg

Sometimes, product development is straightforward. The client tells you what they want; you produce it; they’re happy with it, they pay you, and everything is fine. This is known in the field as the waterfall model of development; once the client has signed off on the requirements, the process then moves irrevocably onwards, like a river going over a cliff.

When you and the client are dealing with familiar territory, this approach usually works reasonably well. Sometimes, though, things don’t work that way. You’re particularly likely to hit problems when you’re developing something that’s new territory for you and/or the client.

One common problem involves the client changing their mind part-way through development.

Another involves the client being unhappy with what you produced.

Communication problems are another frequent source of trouble, with you trying to make sense of just what the client wants, and getting more and more frustrated.

If you’re in that situation, or you think there’s a risk of getting into it, you might want to try iterative non-functional prototyping. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds, and it’s a fast, cheap, efficient way of getting to the heart of what the client wants, particularly when clients don’t actually know just what they want at the start. It involves looping through mockups systematically until the requirements are clear.

This article gives a short introduction to the core concepts and the process. It should be enough to let you get started; there’s supporting material elsewhere on this blog which goes into more detail about the underpinnings, which I’ve linked to within the article.

Waterfalls and loopsbannerv1Images from Wikimedia Commons: Attributions are given at the end of this article

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New Hyde and Rugg website

By Gordon Rugg

The new version of the Hyde & Rugg website is now live, here:

Among other things, it contains a resource section which pulls together our articles on a range of topics, including academic craft skills for students, elicitation methods, requirements, design, and education theory.

There’s also a section about our research, plus a section on the codes we’ve worked on. Again, these pull together our previous blog articles into a structured framework.

Over the next few months, we’ll be adding more material, particularly in the sections on academic craft skills and on our research.

We hope that you’ll find the site a useful complement to this blog.


Seasonal greetings

I’m taking a break from blogging for the next couple of weeks.

Blogging topics for the new year include: Surviving first year university exams; planning good things for when you leave university; more articles about design, planning, and research methods; plus the usual miscellany of interesting concepts from little-known places.

I hope that you have a pleasant, peaceful and happy festive season, and that life treats you kindly in the year ahead.

Gordon Rugg

Monday mood lifter: Alaskan flat tyre

The title says it all…

alaskan flat tire

Compassionate readers will be reassured to know that no animals were harmed during the making of this image – the grin on the face of the man on the sledge is a giveaway that this is just another case of huskies being huskies. If you want to know what “huskies being huskies” means, then you could try doing an image search for “Moon Moon”. The results will be suitable for work, but might make you spit coffee over your keyboard, so be careful…

Are writing skills transferable?

By Gordon Rugg

The short answer is: “Not really”.

The reasons for this answer take us through the literature on expertise, and through some little-known byways of history, including Caesar shouting “Squirrel!” and the strange case of the mesmerised trees.

Those byways should be a lot better known, because they have deep implications for education policy in theory and practice. This article unpacks the issues involved, and some of the implications.

Caesar, a squirrel, a tree, and Mesmerheader pictureImages from Wikipedia and Wikimedia – details at the end of this article

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How complex should models of education be?

By Gordon Rugg

There’s an old joke in the physical sciences, often attributed to Einstein, that a model should be as simple as possible but no simpler. The converse is that a model should be as complex as necessary, but no more complex.

In this article, I’ll discuss what the most useful level of complexity might be for education theories.

golden gate croppedClarity emerging from the fog: Cropped image from wikimedia

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Visualising themes in the Plowden Report

By Gordon Rugg

I’ve recently started looking at the Plowden Report, mainly because of my interest in sociotechnical issues. The method I was using may be interesting and useful to readers, so this article is a quick overview of the method.

I’ve been using the Search Visualizer software, which is available free online. (Declaration of interest: I’m co-inventor of the software.)

The software shows you where your chosen keywords occur within a text, representing each keyword as a colour-coded square, as if you’d gone through the document highlighting every occurrence of your keywords, and then miniaturised the document so you could see large sections of it at a time.

This is particularly useful when you’re dealing with very large texts, since it allows you to see patterns of distributions. It turns out, for instance, that there’s a fair amount in Plowden about furniture, and that most of those mentions are in one section of the report.

The image below shows where the word “classroom” appears (green dots) at the start of Volume 2 of Plowden.

Slide1Image copyleft Search Visualizer, 2014

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