Indigo Studio

Infragistics, Inc.US

Expressing

Production / Professional

Team

Design/PM: Ambrose Little - IxD and Product Manager, George Abraham PhD - Interaction Designer, Martin Silva - Visual Design Lead/Art Director, Juan Pablo Brocca- Visual Designer, Dev: Diego Rivero- Dev Team Lead/Product Architect, Santiago Aguiar - Product Architect, Andrés Aguiar - Contributing Architect, Helena Muñoz - Lead Developer/Support, Claudio Pi - Developer/DevOps, Ignacio Alvarez - Developer, Gabriel Martínez - Developer, QA/Docs/Support: Claudia Badell - QA/Support Lead, Julio Cesano - QA, Patricia Duarte - Docs Lead/QA

Overview

Despite a proliferation of tools and techniques, designers still suffer a lot wrestling with tools, recreating their designs across multiple tools, and still not, without a lot of effort and fiddling, being able to effectively explore interaction design concepts.

Most of the tools available for interaction designers are either hacks (i.e., using tools for something they weren’t really designed for), don’t do very well at approximating/expressing the desired design for useful evaluation/communication, or are very technical and require jumping through hoops just to get an interaction design idea outside the designer’s head.

Indigo Studio was conceived precisely as a holistic interaction design tool. It empowers interaction designers to rapidly create, evaluate, and iterate on interaction design ideas through interactive, animated prototypes without writing a line of code. It enables designers to express software interaction designs from their users’ perspectives, situates design in user-centered stories, and helps them to think through and communicate the designs they have.

The bottom line is: we want to make those doing interaction design more effective, more expressive, more productive, less frustrated, and more successful, which means better software for everyone.

Audience

The primary audience is interaction designers, but more generally, anyone who does interaction design/UI design and specification.

The team did much upfront research to better understand the needs of these audiences, and we used personas, stories, and some of our own experience to inform us.

Designing for an audience of which you are a part of has its blessings and curses. The blessings are that you can readily empathize and have deep insight into their challenges. The curse is that it is easy to “design for yourself” and sometimes lose sight of the wide diversity of people who will use what you are designing. Also, being a tool that such a diverse audience can use, means you have to be careful to not cater to one particular segment.

Our approach was to focus on best practices and important design activities, to support those as best we could —even encouraging good design in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Being a productivity tool means everyone brings their own baggage, so we have to be careful to look for commonalities and use them where we can while optimizing based on our design principles.

Impact

We have been pleasantly surprised by the immensity of the positive feedback we have received—from interaction designers and also from developers, marketing people, product managers, and others who design software. The buzz on Twitter is almost unanimously positive, and even people who are reporting bugs and making suggestions are regularly very complimentary. So we feel it has been a success in terms of pleasing our intended audience.

Our download rate has been phenomenal, and we are getting great feedback from people on how we can improve. The challenge will be to maintain the positive affective associations as we add more capabilities to the tool to meet more needs in the holistic interaction design process.

Indigo Studio V1 (now Indigo Lite) was released as a completely free product, so profit is not a factor yet. When we demo Indigo at conferences, people always look suspiciously at us when we tell them it’s free, like there has to be a catch. There’s no catch; however, we will soon be releasing V2, which is available via subscription. Time will tell if we’re adding enough value for people to justify the cost, but we’re pretty confident.

Craft

We followed a fairly standard Agile-UX process, with the exception of our significant up front research. We did a lot of prototyping (and trashing of prototypes). Early on we were using a blend of low-fi sketching and wireframing along with coded prototypes. Once Indigo got to a stable enough point, we started using it to design Indigo (a.k.a., dogfooding). Talk about “inception”…

Our internal interaction designers also used it and did a decent amount of ongoing evaluations as we went along. Once Indigo was usable, we were able to iterate more quickly on design concepts, which, let’s face it, is the point!

Given that we are designing a tool for interaction designers, we set a high bar on the UX of the tool itself. To achieve this we of course leveraged our research and experience, but we also set in place some crucial design principles. We were all using it a lot, so we were able to discover a good bit of the annoying rough edges before we released.

The diversity of backgrounds in UX means not everyone is happy with every design choice, but we hope we’ve at least been consistent, following our principles.

ABOUT IXDA

Interaction Awards is an initiative of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), a global network of over 80,000 members worldwide dedicated to the professional practice of Interaction Design. Find out how to join your local group and get involved at www.ixda.org.

FOLLOW US
© 2012 - 2017 Interaction Design Association