The longer you wait, the less you test

The following is a guest post by Reto Lämmler, CoFounder and CEO of TestingTime. Enjoy the read.

To get interaction design right, we prototype and test with users. It mostly starts with pen and paper, sketching a first prototype which gets tested with friends and coworkers. Once the first interaction flaws are discovered, we iterate towards HiFi prototypes using tools like Pidoco. Every iteration requires user testing in theory, but do we really do that? Do we take the time to recruit the right people?

I have done many prototypes and user tests in the past. For me, the best user tests are always those which give me the big “AHA” moment. When I discover a problem which I never thought would be a problem for test users. It’s an exciting moment and reinforces how important user testing is.

testingtime

Though, I discovered one interesting thing. Interaction and visual designers are not always keen to test their prototypes with users. Everyone talks about it but not so many really do it. Why is this? I have come to 2 conclusions:

We want to make it perfect, before we show it

We constantly think, it’s not good enough before we show it to anyone. The longer we wait, the more we get stuck in this mindset. We become afraid of getting critical feedback which may throw our work upside down and the invested time turns into waste. Our assumption of “perfect” is based on our mental model and usually doesn’t match with the one from your target users. Break that barrier as early as possible and make it a habit to show and user test your work starting with your first scribbles.

It’s too cumbersome or we are simply too lazy

We know that we should carry out user tests, but we don’t practice what we preach. Sometimes we don’t have time and postpone it for later. Recruiting test users can be very time consuming and cumbersome. This is why we invented a crowd-based recruiting service called www.testingtime.net. It’s takes you less than 5 minutes to order your desired test users for moderated remote user tests. It’s not only fast, it’s also inexpensive. Using TestingTime, you can carry out rapid user testing for every design iteration you go through.

Looking for test users for your next usability test?

If you need test users to test your Pidoco prototypes, why not try out TestingTime’s recruiting service to find test participants from your target audience without the usual hassle. Visit TestingTime or email support@pidoco.com for more information.

 

About the author: Reto Lämmler is CoFounder and CEO of TestingTime. He graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MAS in Human Computer Interaction Design. Prior to TestingTime, Reto was Doodle’s VP Product Management. Reto also lived and worked for 6 years in the Silicon Valley, CA.

Pidoco integration with Planio

Integration with plan.io

Wireframe embedded in Planio wiki

Pidoco has had a partnership with Planio for years. It’s a tool we use every day for our product management needs and we absolutely love how intuitive it is! Planio is a Redmine hosting company, which takes the hassle out of managing your projects.

On top of its task management features, Planio can also be used to embed Pidoco prototypes into wiki pages to share concepts with others in product management and development. We love that with Planio you can continue to develop your concepts in a collaborative environment, where you can also keep track of the progress of your development.

Planio has written a detailed guide, which shows you how to configure Pidoco and Planio using the Pidoco API key and how to integrate your wireframes into your Planio projects. The guide includes lots of helpful screenshots, so you’ll be sure not to miss a step.

If you are using Redmine, you can also find our API Documentation on our support page. If you have any questions about the Pidoco integration with Planio, check out the Planio website or email us at support@pidoco.com and we’ll be happy to answer your questions!

10 Great Wireframing Resources

We often get asked about recommendations for good wireframing articles and blogs. The following are some of our favorite resources that demonstrate clearly the function of wireframing and best practices. Please comment below with any of your recommendations!

Design Better and Faster with Rapid Prototyping – Smashing Magazine

Rapid prototyping is a process where designs are drafted, reviewed and refined. This article gives you an insight into how prototyping can make your work become more agile and how prototypes can give stakeholders a tangible product that they can interact with. Smashing Magazine is also a great resource on UX and design matters.

Why it’s Important to Sketch before you Wireframe – UX Movement

Designing a website or application can often be a long and complex process. This article focuses on how sketching out design concepts is a process of discovery and trial and error. Once the concept is clear, you can use a tool like Pidoco to refine your concept, add interactions and create concrete specifications.

Tips on Prototyping for Usability Testing – UX Matters

Contrary to belief, even wireframes and prototypes can be used in usability testing. The benefit of getting user feedback at the beginning of the design process is that this can often save companies time and money in the long run. This article looks at the best methodologies for testing your prototypes with end users for getting valuable and reliable results.

Wireframing for SEO – SEOmoz

SEO can often be an afterthought in web design, but it is a crucial aspect that can determine how much traffic will be brought to your website. The SEOmoz blog should help you to plan the structure of your site with SEO in mind. SEO is definitely an area where you should get input from your online marketing team as early on as possible to ensure the structure of your wireframes fits with their requirements.

From Wireframes to Code – UX Matters

If you have ever thought about how to cut development time in your projects, this article is for you. Some people believe that it’s best to begin using code as early as possible to save time later on. Others see the wireframing phase as an important time to try out new ideas without focusing on the technical implementation. This two-part article summarizes which approach is best for different types of projects.

 

Prototypes of Pidoco

 

Sketches and Wireframes and Prototypes! Oh my! Creating Your Own Magical Wizard Experience – UX Matters

Just as the Wizard of Oz shows us we each have our own definitions of a heart, a brain and courage, many UX designers have varying definitions of what a sketch, a wireframe and a prototype are. This article looks at the functions of each of these design forms, and how they are suited to different review processes. Remember that sketches, wireframes and prototypes should be used as vehicles for creating a better user experience and this should be your aim throughout your projects.

Shades of Grey: Wireframes as a Thinking Device – UX Magazine

Do you see wireframes as a product or a process? This article will help you to reassess the goals you would like to achieve from wireframing. The author sees wireframes as a process, which is used to generate different design alternatives and to create a user experience based on context.

Better Perspective in Wireframing – The Pro Designer

Creating wireframes without a strategy or roadmap should be avoided. This article will show you what you need to consider, from setting an objective and deadline to ensuring you focus on functionality rather than graphic design. This is a great checklist for anyone beginning a project where they will be using wireframes.

I ♥ wireframes – wireframes.tumblr

This is a gallery with images of sketches and computer-generated wireframes. Perfect for getting inspiration for your wireframes.

Pidoco UX Dictionary Pidoco

Our very own resource with an overview of UX terms you should know – from Storyboard to Focus Group. Perfect for those new to UX, or those who would like to refresh their memories.

Please let us know if we have missed any of your favorite articles from this list. Comment below, or email us at support@pidoco.com if you would like us to give you recommended resources on a particular topic on wireframing. We look forward to reading your suggestions!

Why there is More to Usability than Just Checklists

The following is a guest post by Dominique Schmidt, UX consultant at Apliki. Enjoy the read.

Through our work as a Psychological IT-Consultancy for User Experience (UX) we are often confronted with the request to make sure the clients’ product “achieves overall usability”. Through further exploration of the expectations behind this assignment we usually come to the conclusion that people expect a checklist-like tool, to ensure they meet usability standards. Of course this somehow reflects the guidelines approach of the DIN EN ISO 9241-11 and a number of checklists aiming to give non UX professionals the opportunity to quickly enhance the usability of their product. Small measures can often change a lot for the better. Yet, this approach falls somewhat short of what real usability means. There is not one kind of usability. On the contrary, usability is highly dependent on the context of use of a product (DIN EN ISO 9241-11). Before we explore this notion further, let’s have a look at where this understanding of usability originates from.

What is in usability checklists?

The task of matching human behavior with machines is indeed a difficult one. For decades this question had been pretty much ignored and it is only in the relatively recent times of software development that the immense importance of this has gained widespread support. As a rule of thumb, one could say that the more potential mistakes there are for one topic, the easier it is to spot at least the most prominent ones. This also holds true for software usability. By following simple rules you can avoid the most common mistakes. This can be by avoiding certain UI elements that have proved to not work very well or by placing information in a structured format. These kinds of tips and tricks are especially well known because they can provide the answers to questions such as: “Does this work?” In addition, there are well known lists of usability heuristics (one of which is promoted by Jakob Nielsen). They provide more general guidelines to ensure “learnability” – defined as how easy it is for users to accomplish easy tasks on their first encounter with a design. The critical point is that these so-called heuristics do not work in a vacuum, but rather are dependent on the context of your software for valid application (remember the DIN EN ISO 9241-11). This leads us to the shortcoming of all- too simple usability rules.

 

Analysis of requirements, User Interface design, implementation, user test

What are you going to miss with usability checklists?

Software does not stand alone. It is built to fulfill a special set of tasks. These are to be done by a group of target users, bringing with them their very own skills, technology orientation, expectations and – not to forget – apprehensions. It does not end here. The product’s use will take place in situations loaded with influencing factors such as distracting noises, high stress-levels, shared office spaces or varying display sizes, to just name a few. All this (and more) is summed up in the context of use and without exaggeration it has to be named the central concept of user friendly software. It is only under the consideration of these factors, that the most important questions of true usability can be properly answered. To reframe the above question: “Does our product enable our target users in the specific situation of use to fulfill their tasks?”

How to get there?

The key to success in defining your specific usability goals lies in two factors: research and documentation. Asking the right questions and pulling together the best data available helps you gain a valid understanding of your users and their environment. This understanding is then put into artifacts such as personas, goal descriptions, scenarios and UI-prototypes ensuring the whole team shares a common understanding of the product’s focus. Using these documents as a basis for every decision and conducting user tests of your prototypes will make sure you achieve optimal usability.

Dominique Schmidt is a UX consultant at Apliki, giving workshops on the user- centered-design process and accompanying the development of software products. He writes about the psychology of usability engineering and UX design on the Apliki blog at http://www.apliki.de/uid/blog

Feel free to contact him in English or German at info@apliki.de

Wireframing Competition Winners!

Saturday is an odd phenomenon at CeBIT. When I walked into Hall 6 that morning, I saw groups of kids, students, and the general public carrying bags full of giveaways from companies they have probably never heard of and whose products might not interest them at all. This is a stark contrast to the rest of the week, where you see many people in suits. And yet, Saturday is one of my favorite days to be at CeBIT. It’s a bit more relaxed and it’s nice to have the opportunity to talk about UX and the value of prototyping to the general public and to students who may want to go into the field later.

We decided to set up a wireframing competition to attract people’s attention on this last day. We wanted a way to get people interested in wireframing without giving a product demo. Having a whiteboard, some magnets and some pens definitely inspired creativity. The best thing about it was that even if people did not know exactly what wireframes were, they understood the concept and were happy to take part.

Whiteboard with wireframe magnets

The winning prototype!

Luise creates wireframe magnets

Luise hard at work creating our magnets

I had the idea after seeing a DIY magnet kit on Kongi.com and it seemed like a perfect fit, because I wanted something that would be practical, reusable and easy to transport. (Actually the whiteboard wasn’t so easy to transport, but fortunately we could fit it into our hire-car). Of course we wanted to use the Pidoco design for our magnets, so we drew these by hand. As soon as we were finished, the team came in and started to move the magnets around the whiteboard and that’s when we knew the concept would work. The winners of the competition have won a free annual Expert plan of Pidoco. Stay tuned for more competitions!

What do you think of these competition entries? To see more, visit our Facebook page. Feel free to like your favorite entries and let us know why!

Bringing Great Mobile Apps To Market (Faster) Using Rapid Application Prototyping

For those of you who did not make it to CeBIT this year, we thought we would share our presentation with you. Our CEO, Philipp Huy discussed the advantages of prototyping in an increasingly mobile market. Why is mobile app prototyping an important topic? Mobile internet use has increased rapidly over the past years and has taken over desktop-based access in countries like India already. With more of us surfing the web on smartphone and tablet devices, it pays for companies to develop mobile-compatible websites and mobile apps. For those that already have a mobile product, chances are this needs improvement.

While we may be inclined to focus on content and the commercial goals of a project, the user experience of a mobile app is often the decisive factor in ensuring market success. Prototyping is a great way to tackle the UX challenges that mobile interactions set for designers and developers as it allows them to involve end users and decision makers early on. At Pidoco we value communication, collaboration and user-testing and therefore offer our customers a special Mobile Edition for simulating mobile app prototypes directly on tablets and smartphones with our Pidoco App. With an iterative approach to mobile app design and development as enabled by rapid application prototyping, developers can significantly reduce risk and bring higher-quality products to market faster. We believe prototyping is one of the quickest and most effective ways to ensure market success for your mobile projects and you can see some of our use-cases in the presentation.

You can access the full presentation at Slideshare – don’t forget to follow us on there, as well as on our other social media channels including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Android App – Now Live

Our Android™ app is now available to download in the Play store
With our app, you can simulate any prototypes you have created with our mobile-specific editor.
The Pidoco Android app is free to download and can also be used with our free trial.

We’ve updated our help pages with all the information on mobile prototyping in Pidoco.

For more information on creating mobile prototypes, read how the mobile edition works.
If you have any questions, as always you can email us at support@pidoco.com

Innovation Prize Winners at CeBIT 2013!

We are back in the office after an amazing week at CeBIT! We are very excited to announce that we have won the INNOVATIONSPREIS-IT 2013 Award for best mobile product. Over 4900 companies applied this year to win the prize and we are honored to have such recognition for the Pidoco Mobile Edition. Our Mobile Edition allows users to simulate and test interactive app prototypes directly on mobile devices using the Pidoco App.

Pidoco receives the INNOVATIONSPREIS-IT 2013 in the category mobile

Source: http://www.innovationspreis-it.de

Below is an interview (in German) with our CEO Philipp Huy who was at CeBIT 2013 to accept the award.

We want to thank everyone who visited our stand at CeBIT and took the time to try out Pidoco. We are really happy with the positive response we’ve had. Here is a photo of our booth, including our analog magnetic wireframe stencils.

Pidoco Stand at CeBIT 2013

For those of you who were not able to visit us at CeBIT, we’ll keep you updated about upcoming events where Pidoco will be making an appearance!

Pidoco at CeBIT 2013

Red Cebit Logo - Hannover March 5-9Pidoco will be at CeBIT, Hannover this year to present the latest updates to our mobile and enterprise products. This is the largest IT trade show in the world with over 4000 exhibitors and 1500 workshops and talks.

If you are going to CeBIT this year, please visit our stand, where we will be happy to give you inside tips on how to work best with Pidoco and discuss the options for using Pidoco in your next project. If you would like to arrange an individual meeting with us, or would like to apply for tickets to CeBIT, please message us through our contact form or  email support@pidoco.com

Date: 5th – 9th March 2013
Stand: K46/1, Hall 6

Register for your free tickets and personal consultation today! We look forward to seeing you there!

New Year Update – Icons and More!

Icons for social media

It’s time for another product update and we want to thank you once again for all the feedback you have emailed and added to our forum. We really appreciate it!

Please feel free to comment below to let us know what you think of these updates!

New Stencils

We have added over 200 icon stencils to Pidoco – ranging from social media icons to currency symbols. These are organized by category in the stencil palate, so just click on “expand” to see the full range in each category. Once you have added your icons to your page, you can change the size in the context menu. There are five sizes to choose from.

We have expanded our shape stencils to include the triangle stencil to help you get creative in your prototypes.

The new icons can also be found in the Mobile Edition as well as the Autocompleter, Accordion, Rating, and Toggle Section Stencils. You can try out our Mobile Editor with the Pidoco Free Trial.

 

Toggle Section Update

We’ve updated the Toggle Section so that you can choose the overlay offset when the stencil is clicked in simulation (i.e. where the overlay should open on the page). You can also specify how large you would like the overlay width to be, so you can avoid scroll bars from showing up. You can set a target as an external webpage, or another page in your prototype.

In the example on the left, I have created an overlay with contact information. The overlay opens 50 pixels below and to the right of the “Contact Us”  trigger in simulation. Here it is shown in sketched mode.

Stay Tuned!

We hope you enjoy these updates and stay tuned for our future releases. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook Page. Thanks for all your great feedback and Happy New Year!