As a UX designer, I’m not sure I’ll ever get out of the deliverables business, a lot of what I do is document design decisions and use deliverables to communicate to clients as well as the rest of my team (see Lean UX: Getting Out of the Deliverables Business). I’m not getting out of the deliverables business anytime soon, but business is changing and my documentation is getting more cringeworthy everyday… in a positive way!
I use quick and effective techniques to document and visualize my design decisions. The simplest form of this kind of rapid UX is the tried and true method of sketching. Unfortunately I’m terrible with a marker and I work faster on a computer. My favorite technique of recent, especially for small design iterations on existing products, is using code inspectors in browser (my preference is Chrome) and modifying code here and there to get what I want, then screen capturing the result. I then drop the screenshot in Omnigraffle or Keynote and mark it up with notes or overlay additional wireframe elements.
My goal in this type of process is usually to get ideas quickly in front of clients and garner feedback as soon as possible. It works best when you already have a live product and are making small tweaks. You save time by not having to recreate page elements or updating old wireframes to match the live version. Also using the live site to generate new mockups provides context for clients when reviewing. It’s easier for clients to imagine how something will work the greater the fidelity. With these kind of mockups you get the benefits of a high fidelity comp along with time and money savings.
I think one of the reasons UX designers have been stuck in the deliverables business is a fear of presentation to clients. Nobody wants to deliver an ugly baby, especially to a client. So how do you overcome this fear if you’re working in a quick & dirty style? Two things: do it often and don’t make a big deal about it. It’s like doing user testing. The most effective user testing is done often and incorporated in the design process, rather than as an aftermath with a big roll out presentation. The more you bring what appears to be ‘work in progress’ to a status meeting or even a ‘check in’ rather than a design review, the more clients will get use to the style and also engage in feedback. Ultimately, it’s that type of design collaboration that creates excellent user experiences.