Posts Tagged ‘Interaction design’

Axure for wireframes and interactive mockups?

May 9th, 2009

One of the companies I do user-centred design for invited me to join in on an informal demo of Axure this week, a tool for wireframing, building prototypes, and creating design specifications. The person leading the demo had been using a trial version of the software for about a month, and was so excited about it she was trying to convince her company to buy some licenses.

Here’s a screenshot of the tool:

Axure screenshot

Image from the Axure website

Although I’ve never used Axure myself, I wanted to share a few thoughts I had based on the demo. Currently, I use Microsoft Visio to do most of my wireframing (low-fidelity and medium-fidelity), and when I need to show interaction (eg for user testing, presenting ideas to the project team, or demoing end-to-end scenarios) I’ve been using Microsoft Expressions Web to turn the designs into all-singing, all-dancing prototypes.  I’ve been really happy with this process, and have found that the combination of Visio and Expressions has certainly been meeting my needs.  But the woman who demoed Axure was so excited (after only a trial!), that I’m somewhat intrigued.

Based on the demo, I gather that some of the strengths of Axure are:

  • Useful for quickly communicating and evaluating ideas that are tied to interaction
  • Useful for documenting agreed designs, including the behaviour of each control/widget
  • Useful for incrementally building up and documenting a design base (especially good for long term, iterative design projects)
  • May be quicker (eg than MS Expressions) to create interactive mockups, such as those for user tests and demos?

However, the demo also left me wondering about a few things:

  • It was not clear how well Axure serves as a primary design tool (eg in place of Visio), as it was not immediately obvious how well it facilitates ‘design exploration’ – in which case, base initial designs may still have to be roughly defined and agreed in a separate tool (eg Visio) before being moved over to Axure.
  • Because of its focus on interactivity, I have some concerns that it may encourage defining detailed interactions too soon in the design process.

I’m considering downloading a trial version to play around with, its just a matter of finding some ‘free’ time.  In the meantime, I’m curious if any of you have used Axure?  I’d love to hear about your experiences with it, or with other similar tools!

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