Screen shot 2012-06-27 at 3.45.33 PM Theory

The Usability ABC – part 6

This week, let me complement our lists of definitions by the following five terms: Brainstorming, Mind map, Wireframe, Mockup, Pilot test. Again, these items are added to our growing page of usability related terms.

Brainstorming
Brainstorming describes a creative process to generate ideas around a defined topic. You can brainstorm alone or in a group. Brainstorming in a group is handy because several people are likely to have more ideas than you have on your own. Besides, in a group, brainstorming can help to match up ideas about a certain topic and put everyone into the same perspective.
Mind map
A mind map usually visualizes the results of a brainstorming. You start with one central term and going from there, you add all ideas that come. Link the once that seem to be connected by grouping them or drawing a line between them. A mind map
reflects connected ideas around a certain topic, as they are memorized in your mind.
Wireframe
A wireframe shows a user interface in an early and conceptual stage. Wireframes can be simple sketches, or digital drafts. They structure the interface and indicate the positioning and size of navigation and content elements. This step of the design process is very helpful to test the structure of a user interface at a low level of design and development costs.
Mockup
A mockup is the followup step after a wireframe. They include the actual design and therefore represent the final user interface. Mockups can either be static images, or simulate functionality to different degrees. Mockups can be used to test the user interface at low development costs.
Pilot test
A pilot test is a pretest that is performed to conform the quality of a usability test. Just like you test your user interface to make sure you focus it for your users, make sure to design the test for your participants. By pretesting, you can identify if you focus on the right target group, if your questions are understood, if the extend of your test is appropriate, etc.

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