Welcome to the ProtoShare blog.

Low Fidelity Prototypes

Here at ProtoShare we’re fans of the agile methodology and advocate for designing early and iterating often. I came across a great write up on low fidelity prototyping that was posted on Smashing Magazine. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Have you ever overspent resources in a rush or accomplished too little for being a perfectionist? Low-fidelity prototyping helps us to find the middle ground between overspending and overthinking, between too little investment and too much user validation. By building a practical, preliminary version of your product, you will catch potential problems and promising insights faster and earlier in the process.

We definitely agree that starting with low fidelity designs and working your way towards the end look is the best process. Especially when you consider time spent on creating high fidelity designs that may require re-work. The article offers some additional insight into the advantages of low fidelity prototyping and the quick start guide at the end may be particularly useful for those new to the ideology.

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Creating a Mega Menu in ProtoShare

Creating a navigation system is an important part of building out your website or mobile app. While there is an automated navigation component that will automatically display the pages in your page tree, you may want something more unique. Mega Menus allow you to build a robust navigation which you can easily customize to get your creativity on.

Watching our Mega Menu tutorial video will help you learn the basics of building one out.

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ProtoShare 9.4.4 releasing on October 12th

We’re happy to announce the release of ProtoShare 9.4.4 on Sunday, October 12th.  9.4.4 is a small release with bug fixes and a couple of nice new features.

Add attachments to Topics in Review

Adding attachments to comments in ProtoShare

Add With Attachment in ProtoShare Review

Users, including Reviewers, can now respond to topics in ProtoShare Review with an attachment.  The attachment can be any type – image, Word, PDF, Photoshop file etc.  This has been a top request from many customers who use ProtoShare to collaboratively gather content for their projects.

To add an attachment to a topic, use the ‘Add With Attachment’ button found in review in the comment panel in the lower right corner of your window.  The comment will include a link to the file that any user can click to view or download the attachment.

ProtoShare User Attachments

For Editors, all documents attached to topics can be accessed in the ‘Library’ tab of the ProtoShare Editor.  Attachments are stored in a folder called ‘From Review’ in a sub-folder with the name of the User who uploaded it.

Mass Topic Administration

Company Manager level users can also Archive, Delete and Resolve Topics in Review.  Customers had requested an easier way to streamline the administration of large numbers of review topics.  Previously, only an ‘Owner’ of a topic could Archive, Delete or Resolve Topics.  With 9.4.4, Company Manger level users can perform these actions in addition to Topic owners.

Bold and Italic Buttons in Quick Inspector

Bold and Italic Buttons

Screen Guide Support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+

Screen Guides for iPhone 6 and 6+

Bug Fixes

Pages or designs that are in the trash now show a warning message if they are linked into an active prototype.

Duplicating designs could potentially result in a description that is too long to be saved. This behavior has been fixed to make sure the description does not exceed the maximum length.

Resolved issues with placeholder images in Internet Explorer.

Removed rounded corners from Flash Movie component in Palette to prevent display issues.

 

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Our first Apple Watch app mockup

Check it out, I think this app is going to be a big hit.  An interactive mockup of an apple watch app with ProtoShare. Click the watch to see the live demo.

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Visualization as a cure for ambiguous requirements

Despite the fact that I am a huge advocate for Lean techniques, rapid iteration based on user testing and reduced reliance on written specifications, the reality of many development teams is that written requirements are an important part of vital business processes.

There are plenty of reasons for this – historical, institutional,  regulatory etc.  Ultimately, switching to minimal documentation solutions is not possible for a lot of organizations.  Written formal requirements are alive and well, and they’re not going anywhere.

But even if you face obstacles that prevent a switch to pure “Lean UX”, every organization can use visualization to improve processes, speed development, reduce rework and improve user experience.

One technique we’ve seen from our customers is to use visualization to supplement written requirements.  I was reading a paper about ambiguity in requirements engineering, which really drove home the benefits of visualization that I’ve personally seen, and which I hear from ProtoShare customers all the time.  Requirements are written in natural language because everyone can understand them, at least in theory.  But executives, business analysts, product developers, end users, user experience professionals, designers, developers and qa engineers can all bring different contexts to their reading of a written requirement.  Different stakeholders understand written requirements differently, and with varying degrees of specificity.

Visualization reduces requirements ambiguity by translating a written requirement into a more universal language.  The first pass at understanding a written or language based requirement should almost always be a visualization to confirm: this is what I think you’re describing, is it correct?  If all parties can agree that a written requirement combined with a visualization is more-or-less what they have in mind, you’ve eliminated the most basic type of misunderstanding with minimal effort and no rework.

Visualization can do much more.  For example, you can user test even simple visualizations to make sure that your requirements are complete, that users understand them, and that they will ultimately solve the underlying problem that you’re working on.  Visualizations can also help to uncover overlooked requirements, spur new thinking, encourage experimentation and innovation and more, but step one is to use visualization to make sure that everyone understands a written requirement in the same way.

You can use ProtoShare to include visualizations in your written requirements in different ways.  Every page, design, topic and annotation in ProtoShare has a unique URL, which you can paste into a written requirement.  We also have plug-ins for JIRA and Confluence that you can use to embed lightweight prototypes directly into your JIRA and Confluence pages.  Finally, we have a Google Drive plug-in that lets you build light-weight prototypes that can be shared through your Google Drive account.

Whatever method you choose, and whatever organizational constraints you face, any company can use these techniques to start improving development processes, reducing rework and delivering better results.

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