Posts tagged with "UX"

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.

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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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

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!

Latest Release – Flowcharts, Teams, Folders and the Toggle Stencil

We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes once again to bring you the features you have requested:

Flowchart Elements

Many of our users have asked us whether we can make it easy for them to create flowcharts in the tool. We’ve now added a flowchart section in the stencil palette, so you can map out your processes. Remember, you can change the size of your page in the context menu – so feel free to give yourself lots of space for your flowcharts.

Toggle Stencil

We also have a new stencil for your prototypes. Now you can use the toggle stencil to show and hide elements on your page. In the example below, I created a separate page with a few stencils and set this page as the target of my toggle stencil. Now when I click on the toggle stencil in simulation this drop-down appears. You can also set a target to external websites.

Flowchart Stencils

Our new flowchart stencils

Our new Toggle Stencil

Our new Toggle Stencil in action

 
 

 

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

Teams

You can now create teams in Pidoco. This means that instead of emailing everyone individually to tell them they have access to read or comment on a prototype, you can set up a team and automatically give them these access rights. Here I have selected the marketing team to have access to the prototypes in my folder. Now I need to click “Add to Collaborators”. I can set up new teams by clicking on the button highlighted in red. (Expert Plan)

I can select which team I would like to access my prototype

I can select which team I would like to access my prototype

Project Folders

We realize it can be difficult searching through your prototypes, (especially if you have as many as we do). For this reason we have introduced folders in “My Prototypes” to help you organize your projects better. To do this, simply click “Create Project Folder” and click on the folder icon of your prototype to organize it into a folder. The same principle applies when you organize your pages into folders in the editor. (Expert Plan)

Creating folders for prototypes

These are my folders – you can create yours by clicking on the blue button.

Once again, we want to thank all of you who have given us feedback on our User Voice Forum, or by email. We really appreciate it and we hope you enjoy these feature updates. Feel free to comment below, or email us with your feedback on these new features. As always, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter. Happy Prototyping!

10 Great Prototyping Tips

Too many people think that creating prototypes is a quick fix to ensuring that a final application will be user-friendly, but the truth is that prototyping tools can only take your project so far. To create successful functioning applications, you must first take some basic steps to get the most out of this valuable design process.

1. Know your purpose
Whether you are sketching out paper wireframes or want to create a higher fidelity interactive mockup, you should have a clear mindset of what you want to achieve from prototyping and what the requirements of the application are that you are prototyping.

2. Get your team involved
Prototyping is a process that does not require programming. This means that anyone you think can bring value to your concept should be involved in the creation process. With collaboration, you can get the perspective from different teams, which will help you look at your concept objectively.

3. Communicate
There are so many possibilities nowadays for communicating, wherever your stakeholders are. Make sure that you take advantage of this. With prototyping software, you can comment in the prototypes to show where you want to make changes, or to make things clearer for others.

4. Be critical
It might be that your design doesn’t make the cut. Often you have to balance the needs of the client with those of the user. This can make design a difficult task. Try to be objective when you look at your prototypes. Remember honesty early on in the development process pays off.

5. Experiment
Prototyping is the most cost-effective part of your design process, so take advantage of this. Create multiple wireframes to show your stakeholders. Remember these can be used in A/B testing later. Another advantage is that it can be easier for your stakeholders to articulate what they want when they are given options.

6. Consider your use cases
Too many times people create prototypes without considering the actions and processes of the user. Use cases can be drawn up quickly and often put in a diagram, so you can think about the different functions your users will want to carry out. For more information on use cases, click here.

7. Carry out user testing
Even with use cases, you will often be surprised by how your user responds to your UI. Whether you choose to carry out remote user testing, or watch your user click through the prototype in front of you, it’s invaluable to see how your user interacts with your design.

8. Think of the next step
Remember that your prototype will be used as a blueprint for other designers and programmers. Make sure this is a useful guide for them and be aware of their requirements for the prototype.

9. Document your processes
This is especially important if you are working for a client. A specification document of a prototype is a record that both parties can refer to. This means that if your client demands more features, you can make it clear that this is outside the initial agreement.

10. Don’t throw your wireframes away
Not all wireframes and prototypes should be discarded after a project. You may end up working for the same client again, or want to take ideas from your existing prototypes. Remember, it can be nice to take a basic existing prototype so you don’t have to start with a blank page in your next project.

Do you have any great prototyping tips I have missed? Feel free to comment below.
 

How to Survive as a Project Manager

Being a project manager can be tough. You’re the person who needs to know about all aspects of the product, from its conception and development to sales and customer support. Last week I went to a talk given by Karsten Rieke – former product manager at Xing. From his presentation and the discussion afterwards, I want to share some tips with you for being a successful product manager.

Respect your team
Trust and respect goes a long way. Appreciate that you have a talented team who are experts in their fields and be prepared to listen to what they have to say.

Know your stuff
If you want respect from your colleagues, you will also have to learn how to speak their language- this means knowing your numbers or some key programming concepts. This will help communication and get people to take your suggestions seriously.

Know how others like to work
The slides from the presentation categorize how people in different departments behave and what their work styles are. Not everyone will fit into these stereotypes, but it is worth thinking about how your colleagues work best and how you can fit around that.

Get your team to communicate
At Pidoco we have scrum meetings every day across all of our departments, so that the marketing team knows what the programmers are working on. We also encourage everyone to ask questions, which creates an open atmosphere. It also helps us to see how our individual tasks make up the bigger picture in moving our product forward.

Go outside for inspiration
As product manager, you should be pushing for your product to move forward. Meet with current customers to see how they use your product and how they would be affected by the improvements you have planned. Other people in your industry can also inspire you to try out new things.

Thanks to IxDA Berlin for organizing this event and click on the link below to access the slides.

You can find out more about Karsten Rieke on Xing.

My First UXcamp Europe

Barcamps seem to be a growing trend these days and yet there are still a few people out there who have no idea what they actually are. I was one of them until I went to UXcamp Europe this summer. A barcamp is a user-generated conference (according to Wikipedia) where any attendee can volunteer to hold a seminar or workshop. UXcamp Europe was not only my first barcamp, but also one of my first real UX events. It was such a fantastic experience that I wanted to let you know about the mysterious world of UXcamp and inspire you to come along next year. UXcamp Europe began four years ago and Pidoco has been involved every step of the way, helping ensure everyone gets the most out of an informative and innovative weekend. This being my first ever UX event, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was amazed however at how much I got out of the weekend and what an overwhelming sense of community there was.

When I arrived on the Saturday morning, the schedule had already been drawn up. I saw the noticeboard, which you can see in the image below, and realized that this conference was not like your traditional events where talks are planned out months in advance. I didn’t have a chance to look up the speakers on LinkedIn, or Google any of the topics, so I chose the seminars that sounded the most interesting. The first talk I went to was on UX blogging by the innovative German-language blog uxzentrisch. Not only was this full of useful tips on writing, but the seminar was a great opportunity to see the different ways we can look at UX and how we can show that UX is not limited to software interfaces.

UX Seminar Noticeboard

Fantastic seminars to choose from, including 'How to say no to your bosses' and 'How to measure desirability'

After this I also attended a talk on cognitive psychology by Jan Srutek. It was great to hear an interdisciplinary talk that not only looked into the theory behind the thought processes of users, but also offered practical advice about how to guide users in right direction through design. Another great talk I went to was on “The first run” by Paul Baron and Tomonmi Sasaki. This dealt with the first steps a new user takes to sign up for a product or service. The rules I learned were to show users they will be getting something great in return for the information they provide. Another thing they advised is to make signup forms shorter, or split these steps into stages if this is not possible. This is fantastic advice for anyone who is looking to revise a signup form, or payment process on their website or app.

Eric Reiss talking about innovation

Eric Reiss giving his keynote speech on innovation at UXcamp Europe 2012

The last talk and my favorite had to be the closing keynote speech by Eric Reiss, a self-proclaimed UX evangelist. He used some great examples to illustrate that innovation should be used to solve problems, not create them. Here’s a picture of the Octoauto, which promised to give a smoother drive, but the price tag and the sheer size of the car meant that the inventor Reeves failed to generate interest for a single order. I love Eric’s commonsense attitude to UX, but most of all it’s fantastic to see the genuine support he has for the UX community. If you want to know more about Eric, You can follow him on Twitter, or read up about his theater and UX career on Wikipedia.

All in all, I had a fantastic weekend, a great introduction to UX and I can’t wait for my next barcamp. I wish I could go to UX Camp Hamburg, but Philipp from the Pidoco team will be there. I’m already looking forward to next year’s UXcamp Europe, which I’m sure will be bigger and better than ever. See you all there!

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