Welcome to the ProtoShare blog.

UX Summer Reading

I wanted to direct your attention to a good source of summer UX research reading.  The Nielsen Norman Group has a selection of free research reports on User Experience.  I’m working my way through some of these now.  You can see the list of free reports here.

I was particularly interested in this report about ipad app and website usability.  While I think the particular information is useful (if a few years old), what really struck me about this is how important and useful user testing can be.  There are so many very basic insights from the tests run in this report — such as the fact that links were too close together, too small, or didn’t look like links.  You can uncover these issues with a very small number of short user tests.

And you can uncover those issues in a matter of hours, and sometimes A/B or test fixes on the fly with a tool like ProtoShare.  Some of our customers have described having an editor sitting in a room across from the user tester, and making changes suggested by the moderator to see what makes a difference.   Getting these things right before you start to work building the functioning site can save you countless hours of rework.

If you see anything here you like, or if you have other resources you’d like to point out, leave a comment below!

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Congratulations to Our New CEO

I’ve been honored to serve as the CEO of Site9 since October 2011.  I’m happy to report that Andrew Mottaz, the company’s founder and CTO, has now taken over the reins as the company’s CEO.  I will continue as the company’s chairman, but won’t be as involved in day-to-day operations.

This company has been a labor of love for both Andrew and me for quite a few years.  That will continue, but Andrew will be doing a bit more of the laboring, and I will be doing a bit less.

Congratulations Andrew.

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Happy Fourth of July!

Just a quick note to let everyone know our offices will be closed for the July 4th holiday.  Have a great 4th everyone!

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ProtoShare 9.4.2 released Saturday July 5th, 2014.

We’ll be releasing ProtoShare 9.4.2 this coming Saturday July 5th.  As a point release, the updates aren’t major, but we think that there are some excellent ‘quality of life’ improvements in this release.

Rename function in Component Listing

First – we’ve added a ‘Rename’ function in the component listing.  Just right click a component in the component listing, choose rename, and you’ll be taken to the Component Name field in the inspector.  You’ve always been able to rename components using this inspector field, but as users pointed out, it was cumbersome to use, and really hard to discover.

Rename ProtoShare Component

Rename Component added to listing right-click menu.

ProtoShare rename components in the Inspector

Rename ProtoShare components in the Inspector


Expand/Collapse Inspector section with entire bar

In the Inspector, sections have always been expandable and collapsible using the tiny disclosure triangle.  To make things easier, we’ve made the entire section header bar clickable (except the help link ).

ProtoShare Inspector Section collapse with bar

Collapse Inspector Section with entire bar


Drag and Drop URL onto the ProtoShare Canvas

We’ve also changed the behavior of ProtoShare when you drag and drop an image URL from another website.  When you drag and drop a URL in ProtoShare 9.4.1, ProtoShare always creates an iframe component, and uses the dropped URL as the source.  This is true whether the URL was for a web page or an image.  With 9.4.2, if you drop a URL for a jpg, png, gif or svg image, ProtoShare will create an image component, using the dropped URL as the source of the image.  Here is a short video illustrating the change.


Bug Fixes

DE2026 – New state form allowed allowed state names that were too large to be saved (FIXED)
DE2024 – IE11 browser not handled properly, result in incorrect error messages (FIXED)
DE2020 – A user can delete their own user profile (FIXED)
DE1595 – Removing google analytics code from account could be inadvertently undone (FIXED)

Posted in Blog, ProtoShare Tips & Tricks, Release Notes | 2 Comments

Why should you prototype?

I was directed to an interesting blog by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert.  In addition to writing comics, Scott works with startups in Silicon Valley.  I’ve thought a lot about the fact that software and web development projects are subject to instant, global competition.  The tech and tools and infrastructure available to build web and mobile apps has advance so much in the past 5 years, that the barriers to creating software, deploying it in an affordable and highly scalable environment are almost gone.  Today I can write a node app for heroku, deploy it on the free tier and release it into the wild.  If it takes off, I can scale it with a single mouse click.

So what makes the difference between successful businesses and projects and unsuccessful ones?  Well – Scott Adams has some answers in this blog post.

I find two quotes really interesting in this article — first:

Building a product for the Internet is now the easy part. Getting people to understand the product and use it is the hard part. And the only way to make the hard part work is by testing one psychological hypothesis after another.

And second:

Psychology has evolved to be a function of speed plus measurement. We’re nearing the point at which the best psychologist in the world is any computer with access to Big Data, and any start-up that is rapidly testing one idea after another.

For me, this drives home the need to prototype and visualize early.  When we prototype, the driving idea is to make ideas concrete and testable as quickly as possible.  Internal testing of early prototypes, user testing of more refined prototypes, and continuous iteration and exploration of ideas bring flaws, missed functionality, and new ideas into the process quickly – much more quickly than even the fastest coder can iterate.  And the process opens up this ideation and exploration phase to less-technical users.

We’ve had customers tell us that ProtoShare helped them knock 3 months off of a 4 month project.  When I hear these stories, the critical ingredient is getting involvement and engagement early from a team, and making sure that the project meets the needs of all of the stakeholders and users.  You can make many of your mistakes, and gain an understanding of the user’s psychology in the prototyping phase of a project rather than in the more expensive and time-consuming production phase.  Let me know your thoughts on Scott’s post, and get experimenting with ProtoShare!

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