Finally, Rapid Prototyping that is actually rapid.
I recently crawled out from under a rather large rock, career-wise, and before I did so I made like the cool kids and got myself a Gmail account.
Oh, behold the glory that is Gmail.
Reading through a discussion on CHI-WEB or sigia-l (I don’t remember which), I noticed a nifty little text ad on the right talking about a rapid prototyping tool. As rapid prototyping is my current fetish, I clicked on the link. It went to here:
My jaw loosened.
As I read through the site, it dropped altogether.
This tool is custom designed to make wireframes for Web applications (and regular content sites too) that you can turn into a functional prototype in, literally, the click of a button (F5, to be precise). The basic screen where you lay your pages out is a sensible grid that makes aligning a snap. You can easily edit the properties of each object, including specifying the list of selections in a drop-down box. You can also make any item on the page into a link. And this is the best part… each item can actually have MORE THAN ONE link! So when you create your prototype, you can have a button that will display two options. For example, you could go to an error condition or a search results page. This is much easier to show than talk about, so here is the prototype of a physician directory I made in 30 minutes (including time spent learning the application). You will need to allow activex controls to see the fancy stuff I’m talking about.
I’m beginning to find the application itself more useful even than Visio. It has things we rely on like master pages, but it also has things we’ve needed badly for ages, like master objects (called “references” in the application). There are some goofy usability issues and bugs in the prototypes (e.g., the last item in a drop-down is selected by default instead of the first), but these can be worked around initially and fixed very soon, I’m sure.
So I might be all about this tool right now, but you should all go check it out for yourselves. You can download a fully functional demo from Axure.com. There’s a 30-day trial period, but really I only needed 30 minutes. : ) I’d love to hear what you all think of it.
(PS: Some bad news… It is PC only, which is a crying shame. )