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!

Maintaining the Participant Experience of UXcamp Europe

It seems almost incredible, but UXcamp in Berlin exists for already 5 years now! Pidoco has been supporting the UXcamp from the very first days by initiating and growing the event. When we started back in 2008 we  were curious to find about 200 people interested in gathering for a weekend in Berlin to share all kind of things about UX with each other. The 5th time now there were more than 500 people coming from all kinds of continents, which feels just incredible to us.

UXcamp participants

UXcamp Europe participants in 2011

With growth comes always the question of how to maintain the quality of the camp for the next years. To me the main quality of UXcamp Europe is the Participant Experience, i.e. the reason why we can read statements like

When we started to design the first UXcamp we took all our own experience from previous BarCamps and tried to figure out what is key to such an experience. It resulted in a whole lot of small details that we tried to execute to perfection while at the same time allowing for enough flexibility to encourage spontaneous ideas and creativity of the participants.

Being the first time this year that I was able to just participate I was able to observe all those small details. Many of them still work well, but others are at risk to influence the overall participant experience. During several discussions, the big question was the size of the event and whether it might be too large already. It is difficult to say what the best size is, but I had the impression that it was a little too large this year. Especially during the session planning on Saturday, the Audimax was overcrowded with people leaving no space on the stairs and still standing at the doors. Since the opening session is really important to establish the intended experience, it is also important that everybody is able to fit into the room.

The second big thing is the ticketing. First, I often heard people saying that you don’t need a ticket to come to UXcamp Europe, which is just not true. Yes, we never put anybody at the entrance to reject those without a ticket, but this is also one of the key parts to establish an open environment during the weekend. Therefore, we definitely rely on everybody to be honest with the tickets. Whoever thinks he or she can just appear at our UXcamp without a ticket I have to tell you that by this you are putting the participant experience at risk since otherwise the organising team might feel forced to hire security guys for the doors.

Second, this year tickets were gone within a few minutes such that many many people ended up in a huge waiting list. We feel honoured to see so many people being interested in attending UXcamp Europe, but on the other hand there are also many people who grab a ticket in first place but don’t show up and don’t return the ticket early on such that others might have a chance to make use of those tickets. Returning the ticket just the day before the camp is not very helpful since people have to organise the trip a few weeks in advance by booking hotel and flights. What could be a solution? Selling the tickets for a low price is one. However, this would brake the original BarCamp rules and therefore, it is not easy to decide for such a solution. Another minor improvement might be to open just a few tickets a time such that people have several opportunities for getting one. Would this help much? I can’t say. Maybe this is a point where the shear number of interested people is just too big for our venue and we have to live with the fact that many can’t take part every year.

Another thing that is always a risk for the participant experience: with so many people there are always a lot that just consume. These have to be remembered that a BarCamp heavily relies on the participant’s contributions. This time I didn’t hear of many such “consumers”, but I know there are. There are always things that have to be done during the event where the participants should give a hand to the organising team. It also should not be the role of the very same volunteers every year to do these things. I’d be happy to see all those “long-time volunteers” to be able to enjoy the whole weekend next time because there are enough others that willingly show up to help at the different spots, like the coffee bar, the cloak room, the help desk, etc.

That said, let’s all together work on maintaining the participant experience of UXcamp Europe to be able to enjoy the same unique spirit also the next five years!

Best regards,
Volker

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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!

New Version: Saving Clicks in our Context Menu

This weekend we installed a new version of pidoco with an improved context menu. It is not a lot that has changed. For example, we now have simple check boxes for all those yes / no properties of the elements. We also improved the Target selector, which now contains collapsed folder entries and grows in width for long page names. This helps you find the target pages for linking even faster. The options menu in Pidoco

In addition to the context menu, we also made a lot of changes in the background. With this new version we finished about half a year of work on many internal components that serves as a preparation for new features. Throughout the next months we will add several new versions that will allow for designing more interactions in your prototypes.

Until then we hope that you enjoy working with the new context menu!

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