6 Tips for Creating Great Mobile Prototypes

Mobile consumption is growing, making it ever more important for businesses to adopt a suitable mobile strategy. Whether you are working on an app or a mobile website, it usually helps to use prototypes to flesh out important design decision and test concepts before development. We have some tips for you to help your mobile prototyping process go a little easier.

User testing mobile prototype on iPhone using Pidoco App

Testing a mobile prototype using the Pidoco App

 

1.  Follow OS design principles

Mobile operating system makers like Google, Microsoft and Apple have clear visions for how apps should run on their platforms, both in terms of user experience and visual design. It’s worth reading over these to give your users a consistent experience for their device. This is especially important when it comes to navigation principles. iOS, Android and Windows Phone all provide guidelines for developers.

2. Map user flows

Create prototypes with the user flow in mind, i.e. think in terms of scenarios or tasks that users will want to accomplish with your app. One way to do this is with the Pidoco screenflow tool. A pen and paper may also work for simpler cases. Sketch out the user flow with thumbnails from the pages of your mobile website or app. This will help you plan the user journey and make sure there is a clear path for your users to reach specified goals.

3. Design mobile-friendly forms

With mobile, you need to carefully plan the user input. Make forms as short as possible to minimize the number of interactions a user has to make. For example, avoid forms where users need to type information, instead opt for pickers and radio buttons where possible. Remember that mobile users will often be on the go when they use their device.

4.  Include real content 

When you’re designing for smaller screen sizes, you need to make the most out of the space that you have. Providing images and text from your existing website can often be a good way of  seeing how content would need to be adapted for a mobile device. Less is often more and you may want to try out different screen sizes. Pidoco offers you pre-set screens for various smartphones and tablets.

5. Use template libraries

Templates help you speed up your prototyping work and stay consistent with standard design patterns. At Pidoco we have created templates for Android, iOS and Windows apps for you to import into your prototypes. These can be used to get the look and feel of the operating system you are designing for. To import them into you prototypes, simply visit our libraries page.

6. Test on the device

The usability of an app is best tested in the real context. Early user testing is a great way to avoid many issues that often crop up later during implementation, and there is no better way to do this than on the mobile device your users will end up using. With the Pidoco App you can simulate prototypes directly on Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Simply share a link and open it with the Pidoco App and the prototype will appear full-screen and give you a good idea of what the later product will look like.

If you haven’t already, why not try out creating a mobile prototype directly in Pidoco.

Pidoco Survey Winner

Last month we ran a survey to find out how you work with Pidoco, what you like and what changes you would like to see. We were really happy with the response and found that an overwhelming number of you still find Pidoco easy to use and love its speed of work: over 80% of our users choose Pidoco because of its ease of use. This is something that will stay at the core of our product.

We also discovered from those of you who took part, that more than three quarters of people use our review function to get feedback from others on their prototypes, showing that this is one of the most popular and most valued functions. What makes us particularly proud: over 90% of our users are likely to recommend Pidoco to their friends or colleagues.

We are happy to announce that there is one lucky winner for completing the survey, who was picked entirely at random. Simone who is senior graphic designer and product manager at the creative agency Media on Mars in Australia was successful this time around and she has been a customer with us over the last year. Congratulations to Simone! Here’s what she said about Pidoco:

“We use Pidoco for nearly all our digital projects. As you can see they vary a lot in their scope and design but we find Pidoco really useful in the planning and strategy stage of every project.”

We always love to hear this kind of feedback and we’re thrilled that Pidoco has been so valuable for Simone and her team in their projects. Here are some of the final applications that Pidoco was used in.

Media on Mars created a dynamic website that represents the vibrant essence of Kulcha – the peak body for multicultural arts in Western Australia.

The Digital Peel website is a place where residents can share and discover the history of their region; gain access to educational webinars and learn about the benefits of new technologies.

We want to extend a big thank you to all participants for taking the time to fill out our survey. It’s your honest feedback that helps us continue to make Pidoco an awesome product.

We would love to know how you use Pidoco in your projects. Please comment below with your feedback and look out for more surveys to come.

Quo Vadis, UX? – Insights from UXcamp Europe 2013 Infographic

UXcamp Europe is an annual Berlin-based “unconference” in the style of a bar camp that centers around the emerging topics of User Experience (UX). In a field that is still relatively young and constantly developing, we wanted to find out about the emerging trends at this year’s camp. Having been involved in UXcamp over the last five years, we wanted to speak directly with the participants to find out what topics, problems and activities are most relevant in the field of UX.

UX survey response

Hot Topics – Mobile is changing the game

In the category “Hot Topics in UX”, Responsive Design emerged as the number one most relevant topic for the coming year, followed closely by Omni-/Multichannel UX and Mobile User Interfaces. This result does not come as much of a surprise, given the surge in the number of tablet and smartphone users. Companies are investing in mobile-optimized websites and apps while IT analyst Gartner is predicting that 50% of web sales will be generated via companies’ social presence and mobile apps. As more and more users are viewing websites on mobile devices, search engines like Google are also more likely to display your website prominently to mobile users if it is mobile-friendly. You can find out more information about the rise of Mobile in a presentation by Philipp.

Closely related are Natural or Gestural Interfaces, which came in forth. The size and touch screens of mobile devices have opened up the interaction design space to entirely new possibilities of interacting with software, giving way to a more natural way of handling. Touching, wiping, rotating and other gestures are quickly replacing traditional point-and-click interactions. Yet, the UX community still seems to be looking for standards and best ways of making use of these new possibilities.

Other topics, which also featured in some of the talks at this year’s UXcamp were Lean and Agile UX. In times of tight budgets, companies are apparently trying harder to find approaches that are more affordable and offer more flexibility. Simply put, Lean UX as well as Agile UX are about getting quick and dirty results early on in the design process to get user validation as quickly as possible and be aware of possible usability issues. You can learn more in a brief presentation on Lean UX I held a while ago.

Problem Areas – Processes and prototyping top issues

We asked those working in UX to let us know just how supportive their companies were of UX. While we were surprised (and happy) to find that more than half of the respondents thought their companies were “very supportive of UX”, there are still 40% whose employers remain only moderately or not supportive of UX at all. Given that the UXcamp by its nature drew mostly UX professionals who tend to work at companies that place importance on UX, there still seems to be considerable need for companies to catch up.

Even with seemingly strong general support from employers, almost 50% reported that “integrating UX into the development process” remains their number one challenge in their everyday work. This shows that many organizations, despite having recognized a general need for UX, have not managed to find adequate ways to make UX a major part in their standard processes. A look at the second most important challenge reveals one particular aspect of this dilemma: Almost every second respondent reported that the processes of their organizations often do not allow them sufficient time to prototype solutions before critical design decisions are made. Despite the known cost and quality benefits offered by early-stage prototyping, companies appear to still save on the wrong end.

Almost a third of the respondents reiterated “securing management support” as a major problem, making this the number three most important challenge UX professionals face within their organizations today. This is also reflected in the activities that respondents carry out. More than 80% of participants reported that “Coordination and Meetings” were activities they performed often or very often, making this the number one activity UX professionals spend time on. While UX is generally an interdisciplinary field where you cannot work in isolation, it is not hard to imagine that more time could be spent on other activities like prototyping if fewer meetings were required to obtain management support.

Overall, it appears that employers of UXcamp attendees are at the forefront of UX, with 60% or respondents reporting high levels of management support for UX. Nevertheless, significant challenges still remain at an organizational level, which companies should look to tackle.

Presenting at UXcamp

UXcamp Europe is a great opportunity to exchange best practices and obtain insights into the challenges and topics mentioned above. If you want to hold a talk at a UXcamp near you, it looks like you would do well to compose a well-set out strategy for UXers to follow for resolving common communication and procedural issues. UXcamp is also a fantastic platform for talking about emerging UX trends, so it could be that Google Glass and Augmented attract people to your talk.

Either way, we hope you have gotten some inspiration from this infographic and we hope to see you at a UX event near you. Thanks to everyone who answered our UXcamp survey this year!

We would also appreciate if you have any links or advice for dealing with some of the top problem areas faced by our UXers. Have any of our findings surprised you? Let us know below.

Introducing Template Libraries

Since the release of our mobile edition, lots of you have asked about template libraries for different operating systems. We listened to your feedback and we are happy to announce that we have launched not one, but five new template libraries.

These libraries include Android, iOS, Windows, as well as Facebook and E-Commerce. These are in PNG format, which you can use in your Pidoco prototypes.

You can download the zip PNG files on our support page.

androidsearch

Once you have downloaded your zip file, you can upload the entire zip folder in “My images”. You can find this above the icon section in the stencil palette. Then click “Add Custom Images” and a dialogue will open where you can upload your zip file from the desktop.

Your image templates will then be “My Images” in the stencil palette. You can simply drag and drop these into your page and resize as you wish. If you would like more information on how to use images in Pidoco, check out our tutorial video.

ios Windows1 Windows3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you have finished building your prototype you can simulate it on the Android or iOS app, or in your browser.

Facebook

We also have web template libraries, including Facebook templates and banner advertising.

If you have your own template files you can upload and use these in your Pidoco prototypes. We will be adding to our template libraries, so please let us know if there are any templates you would like us to create for you.

Interview with Pidoco CEO

Creative artisans

We want to thank Jan Jursa for having our CEO Philipp Huy as a guest on his show “Abends in der Kreativwirtschaft” last week. Philipp talked about the origins of Pidoco, the importance of collaboration in our software, and why Berlin was the perfect place to found a company. You can listen to the full interview in German above. Below is a summary of some of the topics.

You can hear the original audio of the interview at Abends in der Kreativwirtschaft.

The origins of Pidoco

Pidoco just turned 5, although the origins go farther back, of course. We chose the name from suggestions made by our users in the course of a name-finding competition. It can be interpreted as “Picture, Document, Communicate”. The most important thing for us was that it had to be memorable.

Collaboration

Collaboration is becoming increasingly important for companies. Pidoco’s real-time collaboration features are an important reason for users to choose our solution, especially with international projects. Collaboration has also been at the core of our product from the beginning on, in addition to our focus on keeping the tool as simple as possible, yet powerful for anyone to use.

The founding team

It’s the people that matter, and it’s certainly not always true that a founding team of four members sticks together through five years of business like at Pidoco. For Philipp, it was important to have a common vision and work towards the success of the company as a team. It’s also important to the Pidoco founders that work remains enjoyable, which is why we encourage collaboration through daily standup meetings where the team joins together, as well as presentations over cake on Fridays or occasional barbeques on the Tempelhofer Flugfeld.

Berlin v.s. Silicon Valley

The hype of the Berlin startup scene is widely known, but why Berlin over places like Silicon Valley? We decided Berlin was attractive for Pidoco because of the relatively low costs and the proximity to great universities, which meant there would be fresh talent looking to work at startups like Pidoco.

How does Pidoco help Startups?

We have a startup program because we want to give back to the community and encourage success. Startups are often looking for ways to make their ideas more tangible and convincing or test them on potential customers before they invest a lot of money. Pidoco can be a great tool for that since what better way is there than to quickly build a low-cost prototype? If you are a startup and interested in trying out Pidoco, contact us at support@pidoco.com to let us know about your project and see if you qualify for a discount.

Jan Jursa is a UX consultant, editor in Chief of UX Storytellers and Co-founder of MobX. You can find out more about Jan on his website. We also recommend that you follow him on Twitter for your UX news.

Prototypes support communication in outsourcing IT projects

Screenshot of Plixos platform

Pidoco is partnering with a new B2B marketplace for software development projects. Outsourcing in software development can help to save costs and to bring new products to market more quickly. While it can offer huge benefits for companies, many have reservations about outsourcing: “How do I find the right partner?” or “How can I be sure that the result will meet my requirements in terms of product design and quality?”

The first question is solved by the new B2B marketplace which pliXos GmbH, a young German company specializing in IT sourcing optimization, has just launched. On the pliXos platform, companies who are looking for service providers for their software projects can issue invitations to tender to registered and pre-validated service providers. The service providers can respond with an appropriate offer. With this system, both customers and service providers benefit. Along with a detailed project description, the marketplace offers a convenient toolkit for creating calls for tender instantly using ready-to-go templates. The participants of the tender can easily be compared and rated according to pre-defined criteria. Once the best partner has been identified, customers can control projects according to certain metrics, such as project cost, the task burndown or time consumption.

The second question is solved via an integration with Pidoco which helps customers ensure that requirements regarding product design and quality are met. The pliXos platform allows customers and service providers to attach individual wireframes or entire UI prototypes to tender documents, which describe in a visual form how the customer envisions the application or which solution the service provider proposes. Not only do the visualizations help overcome language barriers and misunderstandings between customer and service provider, but they can also serve as part of the requirements document, according to which offers and work results can be assessed or approved. The service providers in turn can use the wireframes to illustrate their offers or make their proposals stand out in a tender.

If you would like to try the marketplace out, you can register at: www.plixos.com/market.

Birthday Wishes

  • Pidoco's Screenflow View in 2007: Volker described this as his Pidoco's Screenflow View in 2007: Volker described this as his "masterpiece of graphical design"
  • Pidoco's Screenflow View in 2008 with 8 stencil elements and a properties table on the right.Pidoco's Screenflow View in 2008 with 8 stencil elements and a properties table on the right.
  • Pidoco's UI in August 2008 during beta phasePidoco's UI in August 2008 during beta phase
  • Pidoco's refined UI in late 2008Pidoco's refined UI in late 2008
  • Pidoco's Screenflow View in 2009Pidoco's Screenflow View in 2009
  • Pidoco's UI in 2012 featuring the breadcrumb navigationPidoco's UI in 2012 featuring the breadcrumb navigation
  • Pidoco's current UIPidoco's current UI

We’re celebrating our fifth birthday!

Cupcake with candle

When Pidoco started in 2008 the company was still just a team with a vision and a prototype. Then came our first product version, which we totally re-engineered after receiving feedback from test users (Pidoco wasn’t around yet, otherwise we might have avoided this extra loop). We launched after a beta phase in late 2008 and immediately had paying users on the platform. Today, five years and many releases later, our team has grown and so has our user base, which extends to over 50 countries around the globe.

Last week I asked the Pidoco founders some questions over cake. Here’s what they said:

Why did you want to become an entrepreneur?

Tino: We wanted to have the freedom to choose who we worked with and to cut out the complicated processes that can happen with the bureaucracy of a large company.

Philipp:  For me it wasn’t about becoming an entrepreneur or not – it was about doing something that I feel passionate about. As an entrepreneur I have the opportunity to do exactly that and to really make a difference. That’s why I am happy that we founded Pidoco.

 What was it about Pidoco that made you want to start a company?

Silvan: In reality we had about four ideas we could have gone with. One was a diagramming editor, I think another was a dashboard for organizing tasks, but when we started to do the market analysis, it seemed right to go with a prototyping tool. It was also the one idea we all agreed on, which was the most important thing.

 What has been the biggest challenge since founding Pidoco?

Silvan: Building up an amazing team. You don’t just want to have good people, you want great people. Also finding time for Kuchenfreitag, where we eat cake and someone gives an informal presentation on any topic they want. At the beginning, it was really difficult to say “It’s Friday, we need to take a break”. 

Volker: The next challenge is always the biggest. You never know what you’re going to be up against. At the time it always seems like a massive hurdle, but you always overcome them.

What have you learnt from Pidoco?

Philipp: I’ve certainly learnt an awful lot about dealing with bureaucracy, accounting and many other things. But one of the most crucial things was that even in such a fast-paced environment as a start-up you shouldn’t try to do too many things at once. Focusing on the essential things is important for success.

Silvan: Everything takes time and you really have to be patient. Also you have to learn to delegate to others.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Tino: I think it’s really that we’ve managed to keep our vision and company culture all this time, even with so many changes.

Philipp: One of the most dangerous things for a young company is that the founding team breaks apart. I’m very proud that our entire founding team as well as our first employee are still on board and continue to drive our company.

If you could add a feature to Pidoco, what would it be?

Philipp: Hm, I think I’d add a little alarm that reminds me to take a break when I’ve worked on a prototype for too long. Prototyping can become addictive…

Volker: A “generate application now” button, because I know that is practically impossible. The processes that happen between making a prototype and deploying a finished application can’t be replaced by a machine.

Silvan: I would make a feature that would solve all usability bugs. That would be amazing.

What do you think is a sign that a company isn’t a startup anymore

Silvan: I have weekends now? I can sleep at night? We don’t know every customer personally any more, but we know the names of their companies now – and some of them are big companies.

Tino: I think we’re still a startup in some ways. If you want to get something done around here, you still have to do it yourself.

We want to thank everyone who has supported us over the last five years and we can’t wait to see what the next five years holds for us.

Use this promotion code to save 10% on your next Pidoco plan before August 18th: bday2013b
(Promotion not valid if used in conjunction with other offers) Claim at https://pidoco.com/en/pricing

What does it mean to be a startup?

Pidoco is turning 5 this month, which for many people means that we have moved from being a startup to becoming an established company. We’re wondering if the label should just be reserved for new companies, or if we will always be a startup as long as we keep our company culture.

For any company it’s important to celebrate the milestones, and for a startup the 5-year milestone seems especially important. One of the reasons for this may be that we hear and tell each other statistics about how many startups fail within the first five years.

Now that we have been around for five years, we thought we’d take a look at some definitions of a startup and give you some of our own. Please comment below with your own suggestions for what it means to be a startup.

Paper flowchart

 

Cambridge Dictionary: “A business that has just been started.”

Merriam Webster: “The act or an instance of setting in operation or motion.”

Wikipedia: “A partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”

Mashable: “Companies set up to test business models developed around new ideas.”

Eric Ries: “A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”

Silvan, co-founder of Pidoco: “You know you’re not a startup anymore when you have free time on the weekends.”

For the most part, being a startup has a lot to do with company culture. At Pidoco we don’t have hierarchies, we have a stand-up every day and we are still working towards the vision we set out when we founded the company. Please comment below with your own definitions of what it means to be a startup.

Academic research project on collaboration

Global management and technology consultancy Accenture has named collaboration one of the top technology trends that hold the most potential to transform businesses over the next three to five years. Collaboration can help businesses improve their products, work more efficiently and deliver better service to their customers. With the right tools, collaboration can be a breeze, but not all tools work equally well.

A current research project conducted by Ilker Berkman at the Software Engineering Department in Bahcesehir University has taken this insight as a promt to assess the user experience of collaboration functions in various applications. One of the applications the study is looking at is Pidoco. In particular the study will investigate how the collaborative functions of Pidoco are perceived by our users. The collaborative functions of Pidoco allow users to invite other people to view and review prototypes. They also enable users to work on prototypes in real time as a team. The review process helps users share ideas with designers and clients, while collaboration through teamwork lets designers manipulate designs along with their colleagues.

The study will provide insights that will be valuable for researchers in the field of Human Computer Interaction but also for us at Pidoco as we strive to provide the best collaborative platform for our users. Therefore, we are happy to support the study and invite our users to participate in Ilker’s survey.

Ilker Berkman writes: “To assess the user experience related with the above collaborative functions, our research study aims to develop a scale. Usability scales, which are sometimes called standardized questionnaires, have been widely adopted in assessment of human – computer interaction for decades. Existing scales focus on the assessment of a single user’s perception of quality during her interactions with a computer system. However none of those scales are capable of assessing the teamwork aspects of collaborative systems. The aim of our research study is to develop a scale that is capable of assessing quality of use during collaboration.”

Ilker Berkman sees Pidoco as the best platform for this type of project, because of its collaborative functions and because of our worldwide users who are specialists in the field of usability and user interface design. Users who have experienced the collaboration features on Pidoco are invited to participate in the survey. Your experience and feedback is invaluable for the Pidoco team and academic researchers involved in the study, s we would really appreciate it if you could take some time out of your day to fill out the survey. Thanks a lot!