Thursday, August 15, 2013

Moderate Flexibility - The Best of Both Worlds

As a product usability expert, I always wonder what kind of product course creators would like more – one with full flexibility or the one with limited flexibility. Full flexibility offers you freedom so that you can use the product in the way you want to. Everything in such a product is open and easily customizable; No prizes for guessing that this signifies a lot of scope for creativity.
But all this freedom comes with a downside. When it comes to detailing and doing the real work, you will probably feel the need for some kind of guideline(s). It’s like being gifted a blank canvas with the tools and asked to paint a picture on it from scratch.

On the other hand, there is limited flexibility. Limited flexibility restricts you within predefined boundaries while offering you very little or almost no creativity. But then, there is the upside too. With it, you will be able to get to the output quickly and without a lot of fuss, for which you can thank the built-in design templates that take care of all design matters. In such a product, the templates are ready; you just need to add your content and you are on your way!

Look at it from any angle, and you will realize that both the approaches come with their own baggage. A better way out would be to go for a relatively new approach, something that offers the best of both worlds and the drawbacks of none. The Raptivity team conceptualized an approach that is a mid-point between full and limited flexibility – moderate flexibility.

Let’s take a closer look at moderate flexibility. Here, nothing starts with a blank canvas. In its place are ready-to-use template based objects similar to a stencil. These templates offer you the flexibility to change them as per your requirements to an extent. You can put your creativity to work while maintaining a good output speed. Interesting, isn’t it? Let me explain it further with an example using the recently released Raptivity’s Collage Interaction Model.

In this interaction mode, there are three predefined styles of collage (see the image below) which can be used by the users as a stencil. The thumbnails in the collage are arranged artistically and are ready to use. You can change the style at any point in time, depending on your needs.

If your requirement goes beyond the three styles, you can go for the fourth style - The ‘Flexible Style’. In this style, the thumbnails are completely flexible in terms of their size and placements. You can arrange them to suit your need and taste. Look at the picture below showing the flexible style.

This interaction very well explains the moderate flexibility approach, where you can readily use the predefined styles in case you are short of time and want a quick output. On the other hand, if it does not suffice your needs, then use the flexible style and get your desired output.

Output with Limited Flexibility Output with Full Flexibility

There are many such samples created using the Collage Interaction Model. Click here to view them if you want to know more about how moderate flexibility works best.

I look forward to hearing from you on Raptivity’s moderate flexibility approach. Do share your questions, views and comments below.

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