Thanks for the post about the swimlanes document, Gene.
It has actually been a long process that resulted in a set of well-targeted wireframes (done by Dennis Breen). I think that the strength of this deliverable isn't so much in the way it looks (although it does look great, thanks to Trevor van Gorp). The strengths of the deliverable are:
- Synthesis. It takes the UX, the business, the backend systems, and the story--and weaves each into a bird's eye view.
- Simplicity. It makes the complex look simple, or simpler.
- Improvement. It is a clear improvement over the traditional RUP business process modeling swimlanes, in terms of ease of use.
- Communications. It helps the team talk about the "what" and "why." All the scenarios combined paint the entire story of the web app. The comics lane also help to communicate the "what" and "why" to management and business stakeholders (thanks to Kevin Cheng for the idea, and Kelly Mellings for the templates).
- Facilitating the next step. I have already mentioned that Dennis was able to go directly into wireframing after this document was completed. The set of wireframes that Dennis produced out of these were much like the end product. He stared at the Swimlane doc for a few days, et voila: Iteration 1 of the wireframes!
The tough parts of using this approach were:
- Comics take a lot of time. Next time, I think we would go with photos (see attached Visio examples below that Jess McMullin and I used in our Business of Experience Workshop at the 2008 IA Summit). Images could be photos that we take, or even photos that we can grab from Flickr or other photo sites. Simple comics, stick figures, or traced photos could also be used in place of professionally developed comics. If we were focused on how the document looks, we might view this as a sacrifice. I don't think of it as a sacrifice though--time is usually much more important on our projects.
- The multiple workshops for the UX lane of the document. The workshops were the most time consuming and required a lot of facilitation, blood, and sweat. The cohesiveness and quality of the document is mainly built on this foundation. Without this foundation, the Swimlane document is simply a set of pretty pictures and an exercise that ends in itself.
Update: We've worked on getting Visio files to play nice on our server, and it looks like you can now download a zip file that includes a Visio template for swimlanes (3.8mb). If you've got problems with the download, email Jess McMullin - that's jess DOT mcmullin AT nform DOT ca.
Posted in Methods on April 21, 2008blog comments powered by Disqus