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.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The winning prototype!
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 email@example.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!
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!
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.
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!
We were recently approached by Jovana Milutinovich, a Computer Science student at the University of Belgrade, Serbia - requesting to translate part of our website into Serbo-Croatian. We were of course happy to support the project.
Jovana writes: “My goal as a computer science student is to help people from my country read some useful info about computers in general and all different software out there. I hope that these translations will find its audience sooner or later throughout Ex Yugoslavian community which is wide spread around the world.”
Thanks to Jovana for bringing Pidoco and wireframing to a larger audience and we hope lots of people will benefit from this. We think it’s a great cause!
We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes once again to bring you the features you have requested:
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.
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.
Our new flowchart stencils
Our new Toggle Stencil in action
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
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)
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!