Axure Fu Master Cheat Sheet

November 3rd, 2011

Axure Fu Master Cheat Sheet
The guys over at WitFlow recently put together an Axure Cheat Sheet (PDF). It comes loaded with a bunch of potentially useful little shortcuts for the Axure masters out there (or shall I say, Axure FU Masters to be). Thanks for compiling & sharing this. :)

Credits: @WitFlow

JustProto 2.0 + 3 Giveaways

October 28th, 2011


JustProto has made some improvements over the last little while as they moved on to version 2.0 of their web based prototyping app. This time around they included a bunch of collaboration features. This means that the tool now allows multiple designers to work on one prototype simultaneously in real time. More so, designers can also create a quick preview links of the prototype that can be shared with the team. What’s interesting and unique though is that the shared prototype also updates instantaneously as users continue to work on it – potentially handy for quick feedback. Furthermore, real time chat as well as comments in the form of tags, sticky notes and pins have also been included.

Additionally, the latest version also now includes a prepackaged range of useful famfam icons as well as an extended set of elements. Another improvement is that now users can create their own custom reusable components – a pretty standard and useful feature.

Along with their new site redesign, the team has also exposed a number of public prototypes examples to give people a better sense of what is possible with their software.

The Giveaway. Yup, you heard it. These guys are giving away 3 One Year Plus Licenses. What do you need to do? Sign up for an account and leave a comment here on this blog of what you think is useful or would do to improve the tool. The JustProto team is eager to hear out some feedback. Myself along with the JustProto team will try to select the three commentators within 7 days.

Update Congrats to Ben, Michael, and Antonio! They have been selected for the giveaway. :)

Proto.io – Mobile App Prototyping

October 13th, 2011


Proto.io is a new UI prototyping tool specifically tailored for mobile and tablet applications. The web based environment allows you to start off by creating a project for either the iPad or the iPhone. After creating a few screens, you typically would expect to be able to link a few pages together with interactivity – and proto.io does just that. It comes prepackaged with actions that are custom to hand held devices. So for example, you can simulate such interactivty as: clicks, taps, tap and holds, as well as swipes. Additionally, transitions such as slides, pops, fades and flips are also supported to make the prototype resemble the real experience more closely. Pretty cool.

Proto.io also comes with other more standard prototyping features. Users can create reusable templates and components into which a bunch of prepackaged and editable elements can be dragged onto. Just to give you a taste, have a look at the Picker Component demo which is fully customizable. Another interesting draggable component includes the HTML Code box that allows users to write custom HTML. The tool also has a useful snappy grid as well as some align to features for those who wish to work at a pixel perfect level. Once the prototype is ready you can of course publish and preview your prototype which works inside a browser as well as real devices.

The team is apparently also working on supporting Android devices in the near future. Rock on. :)

Try it out.

Credits: Alexis Piperides

Responsive Layout Wireframe

September 30th, 2011


As we design for more devices, considerations for more responsive layouts which scale gracefully across varying screen sizes could be gaining in importance. Warren here has shared one such quick wireframe that tries to accommodate just this. It basically shows 3 wires side by side each other with some placeholders as well as how they would all vary across a few predefined screen widths. It’s a pretty straightforward, yet clear way of conveying more flexible layout concepts.

That same week, as I was asking around for a few additional “responsive layout” samples, Martin also pointed me to Media Queries – which is an awesome gallery and collection of layouts that scale beautifully on various screens (it’s actually also a CSS extension recommendation). Have a look.

Credits: Warren Anthony

Special Offer: UX Heroes Software Mini Bundle

September 16th, 2011


The guys over at UXHeroes.com have just put together a software bundle with a few popular tools that could be of interest to people doing wireframing. The bundle includes a 6 months subscription to the following tools: Gliffy Online, HotGloo, and Mocksup. The awesome thing is that you can pay what you want starting with $1. If you choose to pay $40+ or more, you will unlock access to Chalkmark as well.

Sounds like a deal.

Get It Now

ps. This bundle is also a prelude to their main event, the UX Heroes Super Bundle, which will feature even more tools.

3 Ideas For Capturing Feedback

August 16th, 2011

It took a while, but here are some results from what people submitted for the Feedback Note call for samples:

Dedicated Note Spaces


Craig’s preferred method of capturing feedback is on the wireframes themselves within a dedicated notes section. After printing out the full set of wires on a large piece of paper he then takes notes and sketches on top of what is already there. Looking more closely, a lot of the feedback in this particular wireframe is written in a question or task format – as in: “How would the user do this or that”. I think it’s an interesting way of testing the interface with additional sub cases which should be eventually accounted for.

Credits: Craig Kistler

Saving Whiteboards with Evernote


For Anirban, what works is jotting down everything on a whiteboard, and taking it as a snap using the Evernote app. Apparently, with Evernote he can capture the progression of the artifact and then play it out as a sequence as it occurred. In this way, the physical and the virtual can be easily bridged and stored for later.

Credits: Anirban Majumdar

Capturing Sign Off with Checkmarks


When it comes down to my own approach for collecting feedback, I often write all over the wireframes in a different colour on a separate layer. Recently however I’ve began trying to capture sign offs or some form of collective agreement in the wireframes. Sometimes when working with a larger group, team members wish to know and store what has been agreed upon, and what needs additional work. Extending my personal sketching style, I started using two basic circle like symbols of a checkmark as well as a “x” to denote just that. These little symbols I drop throughout the wireframes as needed, and then update a copy of the document in a shared folder (usually Dropbox).

Credits: Jakub Linowski

Thoughts? Comments? Or have other ways of collecting feedback? Please share.

Call for Samples – Feedback Notes

June 29th, 2011


How do you capture what others say when they criticize your work? I’m super interested in seeing the different ways of how people gather such design feedback. Do you have some sort of note taking system? Do you use stickies? What do you write down and emphasize? If all goes well and enough people submit, I’ll share the results (yup, including my own) in a future compilation post and hopefully begin revitalizing the samples section. Sounds interesting? Here are a few pointers:

  1. Send an image (JPG, GIF, PNG or PDF) with a maximum size of 1000 x 700px
  2. Submit by July 15th
  3. Optionally, describe your technique in a paragraph.

Get It Now

Sketchify

June 7th, 2011


Sketchify is an open source toolkit for simulating simple drawings with a wide range of inputs in real time. As an example, it allows you to quickly create a functional prototype of a moving car along with the mouse acting as a controller for its direction. Other inputs which Sketchify may apparently hook up to include: motion sensing (with a webcam), speech recognition, face recognition, Wii Remote, web services, Phidgets, and Arduino. All of these of cource can then be tied back to move, hide, and affect various interface elements. Here are a couple additional youtube videos which demonstrate more examples of what is possible with this tool.

From the Sketchify website, in Željko’s own words:

Sketchify (also known as AMICO Sketchpad) is a toolset for sketching of novel classes of user interfaces, originally developed by Željko Obrenović at the Concept Lab of the Eindhoven Technical University. Sketchify extends the concept of paper and pencil sketching to a more generic concept of rapid manipulation of interaction material. Interactive material is any piece of software/hardware that represents or simulates a part of user interactive experiences, such as inputs from sensors, output of audio tools, interaction with Web services, or simple drawings. Through manipulation of interactive materials, designers create “interactive sketches”, which in rough terms illustrate interaction scenario or interaction techniques. Our tool gives a designer freedom to combine elements of traditional freehand sketching and with numerous extensions, such as end-user programming (spreadsheets and scripts), and links to existing software functionality.

Credits: Željko Obrenović

Personal Pattern Books

May 27th, 2011


A few weeks ago, I started a personal pattern project which I’m finding useful and thought to share as a potential design activity. After grabbing a blank notebook, I basically began sketching out and writing down various examples of interesting interactions I find all over the web. The idea isn’t completely new as design and interface patterns have been around us for quite a while now. In fact, some really awesome collections have sprung up that are great for designing interactions and interfaces. If you’re seeking inspiration from these publicly available pattern libraries some existing resources include:

  1. UI Patterns
  2. Pattern Tap
  3. Patternry
  4. Little Big Details
  5. Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions (Book)
  6. Welie.com – Patterns in Interaction Design
  7. UIPatterns.net
  8. Quince

By personalizing these patterns however, there could be a few added benefits beyond just observing other people’s work passively. For one, I’m beginning to notice that after drawing out some selected examples it becomes easier to internalize and remember them later on in the future. When working on projects, these sketched patterns tend to emerge from memory more vividly than ones that were just seen somewhere. Secondly, when recording these patterns personally it is also possible to gain another chance at practising and evolving your own personal sketching style. Patterns are a great source of more complex user-interface interactions which may push the boundaries of your visual communication and sketching abilities.

There is no set standard on how to record them. Some things which I thought might be useful to include were elements such as: a title, a few screens (tied together with user actions), a simple description, a date, and an example URL. But really, these being personal, it’s all up to you to come up with your own style. So go ahead and grab that fresh notebook …

Credits: Jakub Linowski

App Sketcher

May 19th, 2011


App Sketcher is a lightweight prototyping tool for developing interactive HTML prototypes or wireframes. The software installs as a standalone Adobe AIR application and therefore may run on a number of platforms. There is a left hand pane which contains draggable and editable user interface components – perhaps one the most common features shared across some other tools out there. Unlike most other tools though, App Sketcher uses real web controls such as HTML elements, jQuery components and Google Maps in this pane.

App Sketcher’s end deliverable is a fully interactive HTML prototype. Clicking on the prominent “Run in Browser” button results in a seamless transition into the browser window where the prototype can be experienced (or shared with someone else without the need for any additional plugins).

One small detail which caught my attention is how interactivity is discoverable in the final prototypes. App Sketcher does this by showing a tiny lightning icon wherever an action is assigned to. This small but useful feature might help people notice and differentiate what is actually clickable from what is not.

Other features that are also present include such things as: multi-page support, CSS themes, object alignment, and multi level undos.

Download and try out the software.

Credits: Feng Chen