We’re releasing ProtoShare 6.0 today, and I want to share with you why I’m so excited about it. Nearly a year ago we released version 5.0, which changed the way we prototyped. But the changes we made to this release have really transformed our use of ProtoShare, and we hope they’ll transform your usage as well.
ProtoShare has supported collaboration since version 1.0. We’ve always viewed collaboration and sharing as critical to the process of prototyping and wireframing. Over the years, we’ve had many requests for enhancements and better defined workflows. ProtoShare 6.0’s biggest feature is a vastly improved Review system.
As we worked with review, we came to think of ProtoShare as more of a decision engine than just a prototyping tool. Our initial Review was very free-form and egalitarian. Everyone could leave comments. Everyone could see all comments. Everyone got emails from every comment. There are some things we still like about this model – one key to ProtoShare is engagement, and this got everyone engaged. This model starts to break down when you have lots of collaborators, lots of comments, or both.
Some of the questions we wanted to answer for our users:
“What should I pay attention to in ProtoShare?”
“What decisions were made from this topic?”
“When is the discussion done?”
Here is how we addressed these:
What should I pay attention to in ProtoShare?
We added three features to support this
Read/Unread status topics across the entire project.
When you log into ProtoShare, you now see an indicator on any topic that you haven’t read, or that has new replies or status changes since you last read it. Much like an email inbox, the things you haven’t seen are marked as unread.
In previous versions of ProtoShare, all project members see and get notifications for all topics. In Version 6, topic creators can choose a subset of ‘Subscribers’ to receive notifications. This reduces the number of discussions that you will have to deal with. If its important for you to see, you will be subscribed to the topic.
While we did away with the ‘Assignment’ feature of ProtoShare topics, we added the ability to assign ‘Ownership’. A topic can be owned by one or more subscribers. By default, you are the sole owner of topics that you create. You can add more owners or change this later on. On the project dashboard, or in review, you can view only your ‘owned’ topics. If one project member’s feedback is critical, you can make that person an ‘owner’ of a topic, bringing the item to that person’s attention.
What Decisions were made from this topic?
To address this, we added the ability to mark one or more topic replies as a ‘Decision’. Topics with decisions are flagged, and decisions rise to the top of the topic for easy viewing. Notification emails are also sent when decisions are made.
When is the discussion done?
To address this, we replaced the ‘To-do’ status of topics with ‘Resolved’. When you mark a topic as resolved, it is flagged as resolved, and no more commenting on the topic is allowed. The topic will still show up on your prototype until you archive the topic.
These features together really help to provide a very useful review workflow. Users see what they need to see, discussions happen and decisions are made. When topics are resolved, they are available for stakeholders to see the resolution. What we and our early testers have found is that ProtoShare becomes the go-to tool for managing feedback. It’s simple, useful and keeps your project progressing, which is really the purpose of wireframing and prototyping.
These features also make the ‘clickable comp’ workflow, the review of Photoshop comps, discussions around live sites using ProtoShare live-views and many other functions much more productive. We’re convinced that ProtoShare 6 will improve the way you work, and help you to collaborate more effectively.
We’ve talked about how sometimes free-form collaboration starts to feel like ‘design by committee’. With the more structured collaboration in ProtoShare 6, you’ll get the benefits of getting all of your stakeholders pulling in the right direction, decisions getting made, issues being resolved and your projects moving forward faster than ever before.
ProtoShare 6 has quite a few other nice enhancements. Find out more about them and all of the new features in our release notes.
As always, let us know what you think, and tell us what else you’d like to see in ProtoShare.