Sometimes, the key qualities of a design idea are closely connected to the details of the interaction. In order to assess the idea, it is then necessary to sketch the interactive behavior. Sketching in such cases typically corresponds to implementing parts of an executable interactive prototype.



This image and the one above come from an interaction sketch I built for the IT company Avia. The aim was to develop a tool for planning and managing the retail of storage equipment (shelves, consoles, etc.) in hardware stores.

The interactive prototype shown here focused on the interaction details of planning the presentation of the merchandise in the store. Some objects snap to the grid created by the perforated back sheet, others fall and bounce when dropped. Details such as these were deemed hard to assess and communicate without an interactive prototype.



This example comes from a concept study in collaboration with Ikea and Sikroma. The idea was to integrate Ikea's existing image collection with product and sales data to create a new kind of inspiration kiosk for Ikea's customers.

In order to assess and communicate the use qualities of an image browser based on visual features, it was necessary to create an interactive prototype that appeared to work like the real thing. In the prototype, the images were manually rather than automatically structured, but the functions available to the customer were modelled in rather high fidelity.



In the section on static sketches, I introduced my hobby project of developing a slide presentation tool based on Sens-A-Patch navigation. That project has reached the stage of an interactive prototype which is becoming complete enough to test out in practice.

The image on the left shows the slide space during navigation; trail editing is shown below. The idea of integrating viewing and editing in a rather modeless interface is not very common, and in order to assess it an interactive prototype is necessary.



I tend to use Macromedia Director for all my interactive prototypes. The main reason is of course that I happen to be familiar enough with it to be able to work quickly. In fact, when I write Lingo code it feels responsive just like sketching should: I rapidly test different moves in the design space and study their outcomes, thinking with hand and eye together.

For this sketching-by-coding to take place, an interpreting environment is useful where new pieces of code can be tested instantly. Moreover, a good collection of graphics routines is valuable for exploring non-standard interactive behaviors.

Director offers these features, but so do surely also many other programming environments. Ultimately, the choice may come down to personal habits or corporate policy.