10xer Todd Siegel Explores Dynamic Prototyping

August 18th, 2015

When it comes to prototyping, Todd Siegel, a product designer, who specializes in designing high fidelity prototypes for iPhone (iOS) apps, creates prototypes that feel very close to the real thing. His perspective on designing drew so much interest that his recent lecture at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design sold out in five minutes.

Having founded two companies – a multi-vendor marketplace for computer products and a marketplace for music merchandise – Todd often merges his business acumen with his designer skills to help clients understand the user experience from both a business and designer perspective. He serves as the product evangelist for Proto.io, a tool for creating prototypes that feel real, without coding. Most designers work in a static tool, then bring the design into an interaction tool afterwards, constantly going in between the two tools and context, he said. Todd proposes reversing the workflow and working within an animated app from the start.


The idea is you should really start the design, and really think through the design, if you’re trying to create an animated app. You should be couching your design thinking in an interaction tool. You should be sketching interactive animation and only at the end, really augmenting your production level assets in the static tools.


1. How long have you been designing? 


I’ve been doing design for about 15 years, but over the last 3 to 4 years, very focused and going deeper into the craft and doing talks.


2. How do you approach projects?

I like to really understand the whole product vision and the business vision and communicate directly with the CEO or Head of Product because I take things from that perspective and from a very holistic view. I’m always thinking about the product in the business, the position, and marketplace. That’s my primary first stop. And if I feel resonate that, then I’d really get into the details of the time line and where they are in the process. I’m really best in the early product’s stage because I like to think in terms of the product concept and initial design.

3. What are your strengths?

Product framework, doing mock ups, interactive designs, interactive interface, the overall user experience and testings, and interpreting the results of the testings, and working with the developer on the product. Under the umbrella of product design and user design, I’ve also developed wordsmithing. I’m into language and phrase turning. I’m naturally good at wordsmithing for startups, like coming up with names of products, taglines, the phrases in the products, the micro copy, not long paragraphs. Since most people using apps are scanning, it’s about the phrases and brand that’s within the language and the tone within the language. 

4. What are some design mistakes you’ve seen?

  1. There’s a lot of gratuitous animation that is not really essential, provides meaning, helps someone understand the app better, or form a mental model of the app. There’s all of this junk animation or extra stuff.
  2. Apps that put key buttons in hard-to-reach places. Not enough focus on if you’re only use your thumb or what’s easy to reach.
  3. Putting too much information at the beginning of the app. You go through all this learning process and you just want to be taken to the app. And then you’re in the app, and you start using it, and you may forget what you’ve learned. The key is to learn as you go along, to reveal, and instruct as you use the app so it’s more natural as you adventure through it.

5. What’s next?

I have a lot of ideas and I do a lot of prototyping. I want to validate a lot of these ideas thorough prototypes, but also make them functional enough to be able to test them with a lot of users and get feedback and figure out which ones to build.

Here’s a link to a Medium article Todd wrote on Prototyping Interactive Animation. Look out for Todd’s expanded blog post on this topic right here in Magnified. Todd also does a literary performance series in San Francisco called Word Performances. He has a show coming up in September.