Gotta love Smashing Magazine. There’s some great stuff in this post. Wireframe your heart out.
All posts in Prototyping2 Posts
This week I’ve been doing some research on prototyping tools. A discussion about these types of tools and what works best came up in a recent meetup I attended in Boston for web/UI designers and it sparked an interesting debate. Some people preferred to start designing straight in Fireworks or Photoshop, others preferred paper and pencil first, and then some people liked a few tools specifically built for rapid prototyping. While everyone had their own preferred method, I think we all agreed that succeeding in the prototyping stage is about speed, pure and simple. Quick and dirty beats slow and pretty every single time. That said, here are 3 prototyping tools that did get discussed:
This is the one I would naturally gravitate to. I’m firmly in the “quick and dirty” camp, and this tool is the simplest and is the least expensive. Keynotopia is a large collection of user interface design templates that enable you to prototype and test your site or app ideas using Apple Keynote, Microsoft PowerPoint, or OpenOffice Impress – it’s almost all drag and drop, and if you understand page transitions, you’re already on your way to mastery. Plus, you can export your prototype as a clickable pdf, which is super handy. The templates include thousands of wireframe and high fidelity vector UI components, designed from scratch in Keynote, Powerpoint and OpenOffice, and are fully editable and customizable without needing additional design tools. Again, at $49-$99, this one is the cheapest of the three.
Here’s a video demo of Keynotopia:
Antetype is an app that’s relatively established in the marketplace, and there were a few strong advocates in the room who praised it. While the learning curve is a little steeper than Keynotopia, this one is definitely better suited for more complex projects and designs. At $289 USD, you’ll have to decide how feature-rich you need the tool to be to get your job done. Students can also score a copy for $49, which is very reasonable.
Here’s a demo of Antetype:
Axure was the big boy of the 3. At $589, you’d have to be prototyping a lot with it to justify the cost, but again, there were a few happy users in the room who had good things to say about it. This tool’s learning curve seemed similar to Antetype’s and it’s clearly suited for more complex demos that require a bit more care in look and feel. If you’re in to adding visual details like rounded corners, gradients and shaded buttons, this could be your best solution. Although, I think everyone in the room I was in agreed that at this stage of the game spending a lot of time on gradients and shadows often hurts you more than it helps. That’s your call.
Here’s a demo of Axure:
If you know of any tools like that you find useful? Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to have a chat about it.