We will start this year with what is called the Developer Dossiers. It is a brand new thematic collection of articles and resources, documenting every stage of the creative process: from conceiving an idea to prototyping, development, and successful deployment. The 4 stages of this process are:
- Brainstorming: where creativity is set loose and ideas bubble! The stage where criticism stops and you have fun just by writing everything down!
- Rapid prototyping: An iterative stage where ideas are initially fleshed out using every possible material at your disposal. Images, text, grid paper, magazines, glue and scissors, whatever! In each iterative approach, the prototyping becomes more functional and real.
- Development: When the prototype reaches beta it’s sent to the workshop, where the real work begins. it's the 20% of detail that will require 80% of work.
- Deployment: In order for the loop to close, deployment must happen efficiently and error-freely.
The initial stage can perhaps be the most entertaining one, but there are some critical rules you need to pay attention to:
- You must schedule a long uninterrupted chunk of time for work ahead. No cell phones. No email. No partner-time. Nothing.
- You need to make space, and enter a non-goal oriented mindset that is crucial for coming up with fresh ideas.
- Record everything in a criticism-free zone. This is perhaps the most important and the most difficult rule to obey. If it's not recorded it is lost. If it is criticised it never sees the light of day.
Pick a day and dedicate 3 hours, each hour roughly allocated to each stage. Use:
- Pinterest, as a scratchboard and inspiration.
- InVision, if your projects are less tangible. It lets you create boards and tell stories.
- paper.dropbox.com, for document collaboration.
Keep in mind that it is very important where you start this process from. If you start anywhere that is not enjoying yourself and playing around, you will, inadvertently, start criticising yourself. So, at this stage, remember that you have to start from a place of fun. Always!
Prototyping is great fun too, because you get to build a proof-of-concept that captures your idea, without all the real grudge work of detail. At this stage, work revolves around the actual process and the tools used for prototyping. The most commonly used design process in the prototype stage is Iterative Design. It uses research from the academic field of Human/Computer Interface to iteratively improve the function or design of a prototype. The main idea is to continually evaluate and enrich a prototype in cycles of development and testing, ideally exposing the prototype to a set of test users.
Prototypes can be quick scripts, Photoshop PSDs, paper drawings, 3D prints, and cardboard.
Popular prototyping tools include:
- SketchApp, the digital design tool for Mac professionals. It features reusable elements, rich exporting, element inspection, vectors and more.
- Zeplin.io, an SaaS design and collaboration tool to create pixel perfect designs.
There is a great 3-part series on YouTube from Google on Rapid Prototyping.
- The new JSON/REST WordPress API. What are people building with it and how?
- Solutions to common website problems such as social media integration, payments, email.
- Theme and plugin software development.
- Best programming practices, styling, and code conventions. They are very important.
- Technical documentation. A good one makes a huge difference.
One might argue that there are as many development tools as they are software developers out there, but nevertheless here are our favorites:
- PHPStorm by Jetbrains, a full graphical IDE solution for PHP.
- Sublime Text editor, a minimal but powerful and configurable text editor for Mac.
Our favorite step, by far! This is where you take your creation and present it to the world. You push it to the servers, you ship it, you put it out there for people to see. In our previous article, we covered how to setup a service like deployHQ and deployBot to deploy your Git repository to your Pressidium website.
At Pressidium, your staging environments are one click away and backups are taken care of automagically. With our Pressidium Cloning feature your prototyping becomes faster and error-free. Cloning provides you also with an easy hand-off deliverable to your client. In this final thematic section, we will dive deep into plumbing and infrastructure, and geek out endlessly!