Real-Enough Feedback

Our design team at Lucid has been involved in creating clickable prototypes using an in-house, dynamic, HTML component system called Lucid Particle. The purpose of these clickable prototypes is to provide an experience for our customers that is “real enough” to elicit “real” feedback. As the product design and UX industry has evolved over the last few years, low-fidelity mediums as viable methods of feedback collection have become increasingly more dangerous. And in the hands of inexperienced designers, these low fidelity tools often produce insights that are incomplete, misleading, or false.

Why are low fidelity mediums a dangerous method of collecting viable feedback? Because they aren’t real enough to participants – they don’t transport the user far enough into their own working world to drive feedback and conversations that are representative of that depth and thoughtfulness.

Obviously, ideal testing methods and situations would be to test real, working version of software with the user’s own data, in the user’s environment. The problem is the cost of such testing is simply too high. What we’ve tried to do at Lucid is to develop a prototyping system with clickable components that are “real-enough” to complete the illusion of “real”. Thus eliciting feedback from users using low-cost, reproducible HTML components are a) more easily built, b) easily absorbed within production processes and c) more completely specified for engineering.

I found a metaphor around this idea of “real-enough” at a local natural history museum nearby in Provo. They have a pretty cool collection of large animals that have been mounted in poses involving a dynamic “life struggle” between prey and predator. The most interesting of these exhibits are those where they exemplify a particular situation (of high stress or energy). These “action snapshots” seem more real than just animals posing for a photo. One exhibit presents a pack of wolves that are trying to hunt elk. Another shows a bear attacking a moose. Lions and cheetahs leaping towards prey.

To some extent, such exhibits offer a moment in time which is probably not possible to observe in the “real world”. It’s within this world of “real enough” that the illusion becomes complete. Like these animal exhibits, our prototypes contain enough response, reaction, and workflow patterns to gather real specific feedback. Additionally, because we’ve designed and created our own components, our design work isn’t limited to the interaction patterns baked into another tool.