Interview with graduating Multimedia 3D Designer who managed to do a visual prototype

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Interview with graduating Multimedia 3D Designer who managed to do a visual prototype

Interview with graduating Multimedia 3D Designer from The Higher Professional Diploma Programme of Multimedia Design and Communication

Ilin Tatabitovski, 23 years old, from Skopje, Macedonia.

Ilin tells about:

  • The final project
  • the visual prototype and testings
  • studying in Denmark
  • group work and projects
  • relationship with the teatchers
  • his plans for the future

"I was working with a real life project - not just something abstract or something for an exam. I was using situations from the real world; companies from the real world, analysing the factors on a larger scale - not just this one-month project, but creating something that will last. And that requires good analysis, good preparation, and good design."

Ilin made his project in collaboration with Eureka Informatika, a Macedonian software company that develops integrated software solutions mainly for forwarding companies and hotel management. He had previous knowledge about the company, as he had worked for them as a part-time technician.

The visual prototype is essentially a 'working picture' of the finished project as it is envisaged at this stage of the process. It is normally built in sketch but could equally be built in printing. Many scientists use visual prototypes to varying degrees and in varying ways. Our employment of this technique is specific to a very specific end. The visual prototype must completely describe not only the look and feel, but also the actual functionality, of the finished product. Any user destined to use the finished system should be able to use and understand the finished system from this point. Clearly, because there is no application at this stage, there is some license in striving for this goal. Actions that will occur upon the submission of a choice, etc are simulated with processing part or simple triggers to illustrate the functionality. Experience shows that this works. The visual prototype is the place where all of the minds involved in this process can meet with an accountable and shared understanding of what is intended. The client is at this point intimately involved in the design process. Note that we show a loop on the diagram that cycles the phototyping and requirements processes. This machine cycle is repeated for as long as required to expose needs and intentions and illustrate them fully in the prototype. Changes and the testing of ideas in this step are comparatively cheap and actively encouraged. Every iteration here adds value to the outcome, reduces risks in the Production Cycle, and generally raises the guarantees on an optimal value outcome.

In pursuing this method, we must have a total buy in from our client. The temptation to 'just start constructing to speed the project up' must be resisted at all costs. At best this is a road to wasted effort, extended delivery times and higher costs. At worst, it leads to disaster.

"I wanted to analyse the factors that influence the decisions made in the conceptualising part for the extranet solutions. I started with a wide range of analysis - from company analysis to organisations analysis; to business, to strategy and market communication going to technology analysis and finally target group analysis. Based on those analyses and the requirements from the company, I created an initial concept of what the extranet should present or represent, and what main features should be included. From this concept I created a concept prototype that I used to test my concept ideas, and based on the feedback ideas that I received from the user testing, I changed it in order to serve better the users."

Visual prototype of a user interface
"I made a visual prototype that was basically an extranet presentation of a web page - just the visual interface, not the whole function or prototype. I thought that was the part where the users could contribute most with their feedback to the concept, because the visual interface is what they actually see and interact with. Of course, I made only one prototype and one testing, but since I'm planning to finish this product all the way, more testing will be done and more prototyping and developing."

Testing on a target group
"The primary target group was the clients of the company that were unreachable for me, as they are in Macedonia, and I have no contact with them. What I did was to test the user interface on the company employees, so basically I did the testing on the secondary target group only. The test was done by sending a questionnaire to the employees and presenting them with the prototype and explaining them the idea. The employees are software/interface-developers as well, so their feedback was very valuable."

Studying in Denmark is a valuable experience
"I was studying in the Electro Technical University in Skopje, the capitol of Macedonia, when I read in a newspaper about this school in Denmark and I just wanted to try, because it would be very different from everything that I had tried before. It would give me a new experience, a new way of looking at things, a new way of adopting values. So I just went for it."

"We have excellent conditions of studying - both as regards computers, books, materials, and supervision. I learned most from "Project Management", "Communication," and "Visualisation". The level of "Programming" and "Interaction Development" is not kept so high, because there are people studying from zero. But as a way of thinking, the way of working in a team, the way of understanding things and projecting it and planning, I learned a lot."

Working in groups and projects
"In Macedonia everything is individual, and there is a lot more theory in it. Here everything is done in groups and is more practical. I think that having knowledge of these two methods gives me an advantage in front of people that work in only one way. I can apply different methods at different times and in different situations. There are definitely a lot of positive things of working in groups and exchanging opinions and learning from each other. All in all it was a really valuable experience studying and working this way."

"Study-wise I would like to have more classes and more theory. I think it's good to know a lot of theories because they ensure better practice. Good practice will get better in time, but if you know the theory, you will probably have a better starting position."

Friendly and relaxed relationship with the teachers
"There is a friendly environment, and the relationships with the teachers and the supervisors are different from the ones in Macedonia; they are more relaxed and on a friendly basis. Although this can be a disadvantage, for sometimes you need an authority in order to study or to absorb some theory. But it's not a bad thing that the relationships are more friendly and relaxed."

An open window of opportunities
"After coming here in Denmark, my window of opportunities opened a lot more than when I was back in Macedonia. I have more choices, and I am a little bit confused of what to choose. There are so many things that I want to try."

Ilin has been accepted at the engineering college in Copenhagen, but he's not sure that he's going to start. "That will require three more years, and now I'm young, so I want to experiment a little bit more." So far Ilin's plan is to travel for at least two months, then work as a trainee in some European company and from September 2005 continue the studies in Scotland at the University in Dundee - probably Multimedia Design. After one year in Scotland, Ilin plans to take a Master's degree in Spain - in the field of open source and Linux operating system.