The missing skill: Creating UI Mockups

Jared Spool

December 14th, 2007

I bet you can tell I’m cleaning out my inbox.

Jen wrote:

I enjoyed your December 10th article, on assessing UX skills, so I sent it around to my colleagues. It was favorably received, but the folks on the alias found that one core skill was missing: the creation of UI mockups, particularly interactive mockups.

The places where I saw the creation of mockups implied were: under Interaction design, “creating design deliverables such as wireframes and design priority descriptions.” and in the methods section, “Team members need to understand how to integrate their work with development approaches, such as Agile techniques.”

However, you never come right out and say it’s a skill …

It is indeed a skill. Actually, several, I think.

You need to work with the tools available, whether it be HTML, Flash, paper, or any new tools coming down the pike, like Adobe Thermo. Knowing which tools is best for the situation your in is an important skill.

You also need to know what makes a good prototype and how to get the most from it. Prototypes should be smoke and mirrors — not full running versions. Knowing what functionality to omit from the prototype is a skill.

Another critical skill is knowing how to collect usability data from a prototype. Prototypes that users can actually use (versus just look at and say, “Yah, I don’t like the fonts”) is an important technique during design.

I’d bundle all of these skills under Interaction Design.

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