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I'm designing my first Android App, and I find it very hard to actually understand what my system should actually do. I have a general Idea but when I try to tell it to others I fail to communicate what is it that the system will do.

I've written specs and created three different scenarios for different potential users and it helped me understand the main purpose of this app. I've also found that creating mock-ups gave me a better perspective of the system's objective. I've also noticed that while creating these mock-ups I focus mainly on how the app should look rather than what it should do.

I would like to now if it is a good idea to rely on GUI (Graphical User Interface) mock-ups as a way to start building a system from scratch. Will doing so help me identify classes/objects/interfaces? Will it help (when unclear) to better define the scope of the system? Is mock up building a good tool to rely on when trying to understand a new project's scope? Are there any other, better tools or steps to take when the overall goal is unclear?

  • I would like to now if It is a good idea to Rely on GUI mock ups as a way to start building a system from scratch. – Juan Giacosa Feb 7 '18 at 14:09
  • I would like to now if It is a good idea to Rely on GUI mock ups as a way to start building a system from scratch. Will doing so help me identify classes-objects-interfaces? Will it help (when unclear) to better define the scope of the system? Is mock up building a good tool to rely on when trying to understand a new projects' scope? are there any other better tools, steps to take when the overall goal is unclear? – Juan Giacosa Feb 7 '18 at 14:25
  • Okay. Updated your Question with your comment and retracted my close vote. – Sarov Feb 7 '18 at 14:34
  • What you describe is called paper prototyping – DesignerAnalyst Feb 8 '18 at 5:52
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The old saying "a picture is worth more than thousand words" is also true when it comes to software specifications.

You can write multiple pages of text to describe your user interface and its functionality. The result is that the reader takes an hour to read it and still has just a vague and abstract idea in their head about how the end result will look and feel.

Or you can give them a screenshot of a mockup, with a few keywords and arrows pointing at things next to it. It only takes seconds for the viewer to get a first impression. It only takes a minute to read all the keywords and get an idea of how your UI is going to work.

So a mockup is often a way to communicate your UI design ideas which takes far less time for your audience and far less technical writing skills from you.

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It varies based on the team and the customer. Some like GUI mock-ups (barely functional appearance-only application). Some like a quick sketch. Some like technical documentation (many others revile it). Some like brief face-to-face conversations, followed by the development of a minimum viable product then iterating.

Try stuff. See what works best for you. Then keep using it until you find something that works better.

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I always liked to sketch systems parts or components, it helps people to have a clearer understanding on what is being approached when talking about software solutions, specially if your ideas are complex/hard to understand.

However, if using it for development teams I would recommend to agree with the team the level of fidelity that the mockups have regarding the expected product, otherwise it could be implyed that drawns are exact system designs and you might have abstract parts of your mockups developed exactly as they were drawn.

Google "Visual Project Management" for more info, also this could be helpful: http://www.thinkforachange.com/blog/vpmdrawingsketching/

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