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6 Reasons To Use ProtoShare Even If You Can Code

There are some voices today who say you should skip prototyping and just start building. Particularly with frameworks such as Bootstrap, coding up responsive layouts is quicker than it was before these libraries were available.  While I’ll avoid saying ‘always’ or ‘never’, I will say the vast majority of the time, it pays to use a rapid prototyping tool instead of just starting to code.  Here are my main reasons:

1)  Coding is always slower.  I don’t care how fast of a coder you are, using ProtoShare’s drag and drop interface with a bunch of pre-built templates is much faster than slinging code.  I’ve written a decent number of Bootstrap layouts, and while they are pretty reasonable to create, it still takes time to tweak your columns, adjust your content and get everything working the way you want it.

2)  Coding locks you in, fast.  When you invest time building and testing a coded prototype, it gets harder and harder to step back and take a brand new approach.  Radical changes mean starting from scratch.  Even if coding were only a small fraction harder than using ProtoShare, over many iterations, the weight of that effort builds up, and you end up defending the existing code over solving other user experiences issues.

3) It’s way easier than you think to break responsive frameworks.  Once you’re in Bootstrap tweaking, overriding styles, adding and stripping out various functionality, it’s pretty easy to mangle the different breakpoints.   When you do, you’ll spend time fixing the issues at every conceivable breakpoint.

4) Coding freezes out your non-coding partners.  When the prototyping process is open to more than just developers, you empower your UX’ers, designers and other stakeholders to really get involved in the process.

5) If you’re using ProtoShare, you can lend your technical expertise to non-coders.  Educating all of your stakeholders about what’s easy, what’s hard and what’s possible on a project allows them to make better decisions about what solutions to settle on.  It’s a great opportunity to raise the level of your team, and it’s faster and more productive than trying to teach them to code.

6) You’re going to throw away 90% of the code you write anyway.  If the extra effort of coding meant you pushed the final coded prototype right to production, it would be hard to argue that the extra effort wouldn’t be worth it.  But you won’t.  First of all, you’re iterating, so you will consciously dump much of your work.  Secondly, you’re trying to build and iterate fast, which leads to (justifiably) cutting corners.  Realistically, you’ll either need a major clean-up effort when you’re done, or you’ll just re-implement the solution from scratch.

I’m not saying that you should never ‘prototype’ in code.  We do it all the time.  But we do it after we’ve ideated, collaborated, prototyped, tested, iterated, reviewed and reworked. Then we code, test and iterate some more.  The purpose of prototyping isn’t to completely eliminate any rework or iteration in the build phase, its to minimize it. By using ProtoShare, and iterating and collaborating early,  you’ll eliminate hours, days or weeks of effort spent carefully crafting the wrong solution.

Posted in Blog, Prototyping Benefits | Leave a comment

ProtoShare Comes from Portlandia

As many of you know, ProtoShare comes from Portland, Oregon. We’re proud of our hometown, but it does have its quirks.

Many of you may watch the IFC series Portlandia, which nicely makes fun of Portland (and, more broadly, hipster culture in general).

The latest entry into the “Keep Portland Weird” sweepstakes is a list in the local paper (which is no longer actually a paper most days, but that is another story) of the “Top 11 Things You Will Never Hear a Real Portlander Say“.

A few of the items are inside jokes (like number 5 on the service speed at a local group of brewpubs) or obscure sports references from the ’80s (like number 2, referring to the Trail Blazers’ drafting of Kentucky center Sam Bowie over, now-Hall of Famer and multiple product pitch-man, Michael Jordan.

I have a hunch many of these are not unique to Portland, but thought I’d pass them on to give you a sense for ProtoShare’s hometown.

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Advanced ProtoShare Webinar

Our own Andrew Mottaz will conduct a free webinar with information targeted for advanced ProtoShare users, at 11 am Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday March 26.

This one hour session will cover aspects of ProtoShare that the casual user may not yet have discovered, and there will be plenty of time for questions. Sign up to attend here.

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We’re Proud as Punch

On behalf of everyone at Site9, I’m really happy to report to the ProtoShare community that our other product, Two Minute Mobile (www.twominutemobile.com), has just been named a finalist for Cool Product of the Year by the Technology Association of Oregon.

2014 Oregon Technology Awards Finalists Announced

Oregon Tech Awards name 15 finalists

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3 Reasons Why You Should Hate Parallax-Scrolling Single-Page Websites

Don't do this.

When I read the article Bob posted below, I noticed that many of the examples of quality sites are of the single-page parallax scrolling variety.  I have never liked this type of site, but the article spurred me to figure out exactly why.  So here are my reasons:

  1. I find them disorienting.  The visual scrolling up and down is distracting to me.  The mental model I have for information on a website is that it is compartmentalized and discrete.  When I click the third link in a navigation, I don’t expect to have to be whizzed past the content in the second page.  Different content, different page.  I should be able to go straight there.
  2. Don’t distract me with flashy moving pictures that don’t communicate anything.  I’m an engineer and tend toward the practical.  I like seeing images that contribute to or are part of the story.  I don’t mind a small image that just makes the content flow better or provides a small point of visual interest.  But please don’t fill the page with giant images while I am trying to read your copy.  It’s hard enough to read as it is.  And even worse, some of these sites are using lots of moving images.
  3. They aren’t any more effective than non-parallax scrolling multi-page websites, and some subset of people (like me) can actually experience motion sickness from them: See “Do Readers Really Prefer Parallax Web Design?” .  Why would you induce nausea in even a small percentage of your visitors when it doesn’t help any of them?

The only time I have seen these types of sites being effective is when they are used to tell a linear, narrative story:  See Jess and Russ, and of course Snow Fall.  I think they work for this because they are linear — you tend to read them from top to bottom and not jump around.  In both of these examples the imagery actually contributes to the telling of the story.

Let me know what you think — if you have an example of a great single-page informational site that you think will change my mind, let me know.

Posted in Business, Industry | 3 Comments