It is strange to consider that the Mythbusters have been doing something all along that the design community should be doing now. Pre-visualization, the act of creating small test versions of the main product about to be made, is a concept most often forgotten and missed by project managers and design teams alike, but it is also a process that could save everyone a ton of money if executed correctly. It allows design teams to bounce ideas back and forth between themselves, and more importantly, the client. It allows project managers to see how a project is going to turn out, and it even can allow an entrepenuer the chance to make a pitch to potential investors without having to invest the full monetary contribution. One small scale creation, for whatever little time it may take and pocket change it may cost, can be the BIGGEST investment a business person can make.
Preproduction has quite a few major advantages, but there are three major ones that can help you make the bank or break it. The first, and certainly most important in our world, is creator/client communication. The client may know what they want, and they may be wonderfully articulate, but despite all the ideas flying and all the right words being said, the final product might not turn out exactly as it was meant. Pre-visualization gives the designer and developer a perfect chance to communicate ideas using the aesthetic medium and nail ideas down before real work starts to happen.
The second advantage, no less important, is the ability to work out major bugs in a program as it is still in the planning phase; a task that tends to make getting a product out the door so much less stressful. Something can be planned in everyway possible, site or program maps in intense detail can be created, faux user tests can lead to a thousand different conclusions, and storyboards can give anyone an idea of how something will play out, but nothing beats having a small scale test version to use and abuse.
The third, and most applicable to anyone who must report to someone above, is the ability to show a peer or manager what shape a project can take. If you have ever had to convince a boss of an idea, and most everyone has had to at a time or another, you know it can be like herding cats into a bathtub. The product of the preproduction stage can give you a solid foundation to base your argument with. A thousand well thought, carefully delivered words can paint a pretty picture, but one picture is worth a thousand words easily.
A thousand well thought, carefully delivered words can paint a pretty picture, but one picture is worth a thousand words easily
Next time you have the budget to launch your next major project, please, keep these words in mind. Pre-visualization is beginning to feel like a lost art form, but it can be easily revived if only a few people take a moment and invest in this forgotten step. Preproduction saves time and makes in immaculately easier to communicate any idea to any party, not to mention, it saves time for everyone across the board. Make a little in order to save a lot, that’s all we’re saying.