Prototyping is more than making paper airplanes – Part 3

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Which tools are used for what

Have you already read our blogpost why it makes good sense to use mockups, prototyping and wireframes in successful IT projects? We at USECON are convinced of that the usage of these design methods is one of the keys to a successful IT project.

Benefits and disadvantages

Within our projects we use these methods as part of our user interface design process. Sometimes clients ask us which tools we are using. This is why we want to explain two of these design tools: Balsamiq Mockups and Axure RP.

At USECON both, designers and consultants are using these tools successfully on a regular basis. Basic wireframes and mockups can be created by nearly everyone. You do not need to be a user interface designer. Tools like Axure RP support you in a very handy way. (Read more about the usage of Balsamiq Mockups here).

Strategy first

Mockups, wireframes or prototyping are probably no foreign words for you. We at USECON use these tools within our projects in order to reach your defined company goals like a successful digital transformation or the increase of conversion.

One and the same thing (e.g. a web shop or an application) can be implemented in 1000 different ways. But only a few versions will led to reach the company’s goal. It’s in your intention to transmit to the client what the company stands for. Moreover, clients should make the purchase and do so again in the long run. For this reason, the process needs to be talked over with your developer, designers and departments BEFORE the first programming starts and a designer has started to work for hours on the graphic design. At this point of time adaptations are still relatively cheap to do and all stakeholders can get on board. To do this successfully, mockups, wireframes and prototyping help.

Different tools

To start a digitalization project with false assumptions and not well discussed processes makes the whole project risky. Good planning prevents unclear outputs – this principle is not only true for project management but also for user interface design (creation of new products, websites and applications).

For the design of mockups, wireframes and prototypes we are using software tools. Often clients ask which ones we are using. Typically we use Axure RP and Balsamiq Mockups. Here in this blogpost we will have a closer look at Axure RP. You can read about our experiences with Balsamiq Mockups here.

Axure RP

Axure RP is a tool for wireframing, prototyping, documentation and specification with special focus on web and desktop applications.

The enterprise Axure was founded in 2002 in San Diego, California. The founders wanted to help future product teams, as they have been confronted with the challenge of software products by themselves. Good tools are needed in order to support stakeholders, developer and project manager in working on joint projects. As Axure was founded, user experience and design thinking were hardly known terms. Here at USECON (founded in 2002) we experienced exactly the same. In our point of view, it is absolutely great that tools like Axure are also used in companies which are not operating in the fields of user experience consulting. This is how we are able to work jointly with our clients to create customer friendly software solutions.

Technology is becoming more and more complex due to a diverse range of backend possibilities. The frontend (here the client makes his purchase decisions) needs to stay simple because the client wants to buy the things efficiently he is looking for and return for another purchase.

A client is not interested in the fact how many interfaces are needed in order to calculate an offer. But all these issues need to be clarified before a new function can be released within your client’s application. If not adaptations can be expensive or hardly feasible. When using wireframes or mockups, such issues can be clarified before the programming started.

Simple prototypes

This thesis is the basis of the great success of Axure. Here at USECON we are using Axure exactly for this purpose – to carry out projects in an efficient and goal-oriented manner. Wireframes and mockups are illustrating punctually, how the order process looks like and all stakeholders can state their opinion in regular meetings. Axure makes it possible to build interactive prototypes and to test these with your clients. With this we are able to find out if the final solution will satisfy your client and where he is willing to spend his money.
With Axure, flowcharts, wireframes, mockups, user journeys, personas and idea boards can be generated and reviewed for feasibility.

Axure’s operation is relatively complex – tutorials and explanations are necessary to take the first steps. If this obstacle is overcome, there is a broad range of functionalities. A new file already provides a number of different pages and can be designed with various design elements by drag and drop. The basis is always a simple prototype – more complex ones can be designed anytime. HTML which lie behind can be shared easily.

Please contact us, we help you out

Based on our experience we can say that using Axure RP makes it possible to create realistic mockups and prototypes. That’s why you and your clients will have a clear vision how your final product will look like before Go Live.
For us, it has been useful in a lot of projects already. Axure RP provides a wide range. In contrast to other comparable products on the market, Axure RP is not an easy to use tool and a way more cost-intense. To use Axure RP makes sense in particular when it is used on a regular basis.

Besides Axure RP, we also use Balsamiq Mockups as design tool in our projects – please read more about it in our blogpost.

Would you like to know how to use Balsamiq Mockups expediently in your digitalization projects? For further information, please contact Michael Bechinie. Please also have a look at our Prototyping training.


A guest article by Birgit Harthum

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