Review of ProtoFarm

27 May 2009 - 1:32am
4 years ago
6 replies
305 reads
jstanford
2003

I just attended Protofarm this evening and had a few comments about the
event and how to make future Farm events more effective.

Overall, there were a few good presos - I particularly enjoyed Tellme
talking about the Mobile Phone Sleeve and bringing their paper prototype to
life with a live demo, the talk about the Person prototype for GPS research,
the Axure prototype, PPT prototype, and Arduino. These were all good because
they actually showed off their working prototypes!

Sadly, lots of people did not really show prototypes in action or spent the
majority of time talking about their design process. The five minute time
slot was supposed to be focused on prototypes so I was disappointed that the
time was not used primarily for that.

Here are a few ideas for how to make things better in the future:

1) Strictly enforce the time limit. There was a five minute time limit
on presos and it was not at all enforced. Given the number of speakers, the
time enforcer needs to be a total slave driver, keeping people on track.

2) Have people arrive early to test their computer setup. There were
numerous IT issues with projecting; Yes, I know this always happens but one
solution is to require that speakers come early and test out their set up
with the projector so that they figure out what resolution/set up is going
to work in advance. Given the number of speakers, this is super important
for next time.

3) Make it clear what people should focus on in their presentation and
create a list of dos and don't in advance. I was expecting the presentation
to show off prototypes. Some people did that but a lot of people spent a lot
of time talking about their process before the prototype (i.e. ethnographic
study, requirements, blah, blah, blah). I was really interested in seeing
the prototypes and hearing how people MADE the prototype, not how they came
up with the design. Only a few presenters did that which was disappointing.
In the future, I would like to see some guidelines about what people should
present in the five minutes they are allotted to make things go smoothly.

4) Some people were presenting wireframes, not prototypes. Again, I
think this had to do with the lack of guidelines for content of presos.
Although straight non interactive wireframes would be interesting in a
WireframeFarm event, this was ProtoFarm. If you have a paper prototype, than
the thing to do is to show how you used it in an innovative manner like the
folks from Tellme did instead of just showing the wireframe on a screen.

5) Ask for more info when selecting speakers. People signed up for
Protofarm by adding a comment. To enhance the content, it would be nice to
ask people to answer a few questions about what they are presenting to make
sure that people are really presenting something that is on topic.

I'm sorry if I come off as grumpy but I just think the event had a lot of
potential and could have been a tad better if things were more concrete.

Julie

_____________________________________________________

Julie Stanford
Principal, Sliced Bread Design

650-969-0400 x706

Comments

27 May 2009 - 3:52am
Damon Dimmick
2008

Did anyone videotape this event? I'd love to see how Tellme handled it.

Thanks!

Julie Stanford wrote:
> I just attended Protofarm this evening and had a few comments about the
> event and how to make future Farm events more effective.
>
>

27 May 2009 - 5:23am
Jaya
2009

Did anyone videotape this event?

27 May 2009 - 10:35am
Elizabeth Bacon
2003

I have a different perspective on the ProtoFarm event than Julie,
which I was fortunate to attend last night as well as being myself a
presenter, like her.

For my part, I don't see much value in watching people show off their
prototype all by itself. Without knowing the context behind the
prototype and the design process people employed, the prototype is
just a shiny object. (Or not so shiny, as the case may be.)

Additionally, there was guidance given to the speakers--the event was
about conveying tips and tricks for prototyping. To me, this meant
that we should emphasize the why's and wherefore's and most especially
how use of the prototype unfolded in practice.

I do agree that time management caused some issues. The first bunch of
presenters seemed to have more like 10 minutes to speak & answer
questions, where the last few (Julie and myself among them) were kept
to the 5 minute mark. I was just about to display my prototype when I
heard that my time was almost up. At this point, I chose to abandon
display of it altogether in favor of continuing to discuss the design
situation, prototyping techniques I used, and outcomes as well as
learnings. Personally, I believe that the latter set of information
would be more globally useful to the group than showing off my
prototype would have been. In retrospect, realizing that the 5-minute
time was now being enforced, I might have shown the prototype the
whole time while talking through these points, but...c'est la vie.

Nice event, IxDA San Francisco! It was a super-useful topic for the
community, I think. And Adobe made for a great host.

Cheers,
Liz

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Vice-President, IxDA / www.ixda.org
CDO, Devise / www.devise.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On May 27, 2009, at 1:52 AM, Damon Dimmick wrote:

>
> Did anyone videotape this event? I'd love to see how Tellme handled
> it.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Julie Stanford wrote:
>> I just attended Protofarm this evening and had a few comments about
>> the
>> event and how to make future Farm events more effective.
>>
>>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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27 May 2009 - 12:26pm
Peter Merholz
2004

>
I'm not surprised by Julie's commentary, as much of it can be applied
to Vizfarm. Clearly, there's a pattern here in how designers talk
about their work.

Reacting to specific commentary:
> Some people did that but a lot of people spent a lot
> of time talking about their process before the prototype (i.e.
> ethnographic
> study, requirements, blah, blah, blah).

It's getting to the point where I think we should simply ban such
discussions. We talk about process because it's comfortable, and
pretty much unassailable -- people are far less likely to be critical
of your process than they are of your product.

But, honestly, process is worthless if the product is poor. And, also,
the "process" that has been discussed at interaction design-related
events since, oh, 2002, has not really changed. Yes, we get it, you
should talk to users early! And often!

> 5) Ask for more info when selecting speakers. People signed up
> for
> Protofarm by adding a comment. To enhance the content, it would be
> nice to
> ask people to answer a few questions about what they are presenting
> to make
> sure that people are really presenting something that is on topic.

This is key. These Farms are a great idea, but if they are to become a
truly valuable, and sustained event, they need to be more selective
about the presentations.

--peter

27 May 2009 - 12:48pm
Joshua Porter
2007

On May 27, 2009, at 1:26 PM, Peter Merholz wrote:

>
> But, honestly, process is worthless if the product is poor.

Well said, Peter.

27 May 2009 - 1:15pm
BonGeek
2009

Agree with Peter, I was there and kind of getting drifted while seeing the
working model and then trips and tricks. For Tips & Tricks, there should be
separate event, and I think the "Interaction Design 101" is the perfect bit
for those who really love to show the trips and tricks.

But as in ProtoFarm context, it should be about the "Prototype show-off".

Overall, it was a great experience, and it was my first IxDA event ever!

Thank you IxDA of San Francisco to arrange it.

Take Care,

Mudassir Azeemi

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