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In the course of his 30-year career, David Bernstein has trained more than 6,000 developers at hundreds of companies on how to improve their software design and construction. His company, Techniques of Design (http://www.techniquesofdesign.com), provides customized training, coaching and consulting to software developers and development teams around the world, enabling them to master essential practices, including Agile, Scrum, XP, test-driven development, design patterns and related techniques, for building high-quality software more rapidly. David is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 18 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Prototyping Caveat

10.07.2010
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I am a big believer in prototyping. The quicker I can get functionality to my users the better. I often find that it helps my users visualize how to use the system I am building and often this will lead to useful feedback. However, I do have a caveat when building prototypes for customers—make sure they understand the difference between the prototype and the product.

I remember the first major contract I landed many years ago which was to build online trading system. After we signed the contract I did a little prototyping. A week later I met with my client to show him some panels I had designed and get his feedback on the layout and usability.

As I was walking him through the different screens I could see he was starting to get uneasy. As I talked I could see him becoming paler and tenser, as if he saw a ghost. After a while I asked him if he was ok. He finally said, “You mean to tell me that I just wrote you a check for over $100,000 for less than a week of work?”

“No” I said. “See, I’m clicking the Ok button and nothing’s happening. These are just ideas on what the screens could look like; there’s no functionality yet.”

About 18 months later as we were wrapping up the project I reminded him of that first “demo” and of how far we came since then. He finally understood.

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