Drilling Down the Design Process, Part 3: Candy Coating

by Morgan Strauss In the first two phases of our design process, we established interface functionality through sketching and wireframing. In these steps, we paid absolutely no attention to color, design, or style. There are two good reasons for this. For one, once you introduce aesthetics, they quickly become the
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by Morgan Strauss

In the first two phases of our design process, we established interface functionality through sketching and wireframing. In these steps, we paid absolutely no attention to color, design, or style. There are two good reasons for this. For one, once you introduce aesthetics, they quickly become the focus of client reviews, and the most important part of the interface – its functionality – becomes an afterthought. For another, once our artists get going, it can be very difficult to make changes to the interface. So it is vital to nail down functionality beforehand. Now that we’ve done that, the real fun can begin.

We begin the candy coating phase with the “taste test.” Here, we pick one particular screen or function and give the clients ideas of how it might look; working with them to make sure that one screen is absolutely perfect. From there, we use that one screen as the basis for the interface design as we proceed to candy coat the whole thing using Photoshop. However, if you don’t want to pay for Photoshop, there are several free open-source alternatives that you can use, such as Gimp, for instance. At Guifx, we’re very detailed with our art. It’s not uncommon for us to get inches away from our monitors to refine a few pixels and as part of this process and to reduce eyestrain we use special computer glasses.

When the last of the candy coating is applied, the project is optimized and prepared for implementation. At this final stage, the end-user is presented with a sleek, stylish new interface that provides the best possible user experience.

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Morgan Strauss is the president of Guifx, an interface design studio specializing in touchscreen interfaces for home automation and embedded systems. He can be reached at morgan@guifx.com.

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