Axure - Questions...and more questions

29 Jan 2009 - 7:44pm
5 years ago
15 replies
3014 reads
Helen Killingbeck
2005

Thinking about using Axure for prototyping as there are many great benefits
from a documentation point of view.
However I am wondering about the learning curve and the ability to import
previously documented high level page structures (Visio)

Questions
1. What would be your estimate regarding the learning curve (timewise) to
becoming productive with Axure without feeling like you are blowing the
project timelines for deliverables?

2. Can you import Visio drawings into Axure?

3. My understanding is that Axure produces html code. So how compliant is
the code when trying to ensure WCAG 2 compliant code?

4. What are the downfalls of using Axure?

Thanks in advance.

Helen

Comments

29 Jan 2009 - 8:01pm
Vishal Subraman...
2005

Helen,

Most importantly, Axure does not produce production HTML code (you
can't even use parts of it), it's only meant to be seen on a browser.

Although it has a clunky UI, the learning curve is very fast. The
documentation wasn't very useful for me, so you should explore that
further. Search for Axure in the archives- there have been more than a
few discussions on this topic.

Vishal
Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 29, 2009, at 7:44 PM, Helen Killingbeck <4thmedium at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Thinking about using Axure for prototyping as there are many great
> benefits
> from a documentation point of view.
> However I am wondering about the learning curve and the ability to
> import
> previously documented high level page structures (Visio)
>
>
> Questions
> 1. What would be your estimate regarding the learning curve
> (timewise) to
> becoming productive with Axure without feeling like you are blowing
> the
> project timelines for deliverables?
>
> 2. Can you import Visio drawings into Axure?
>
> 3. My understanding is that Axure produces html code. So how
> compliant is
> the code when trying to ensure WCAG 2 compliant code?
>
> 4. What are the downfalls of using Axure?
>
> Thanks in advance.
>
> Helen
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

29 Jan 2009 - 9:24pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Helen,

I don't think you can import Visio documents. It does produce HTML
code, but in no way is it W3C compliant or reusable for production.

If you're familiar with Visio, then the learning curve will be pretty
quick. The interface is similar to Visio in many ways. I'd expect that
you could be pretty comfortable with it in 20-3 minutes if you're
coming from Visio. Also, Axure has a number of video tutorials on
their site.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

29 Jan 2009 - 8:25pm
Becky Reed
2008

1. My experience (myself and a production designer) has been the learning curve isn't too bad...a few days of intense work and a trial run learning how dynamic panels and events need to be layered to work best. I've used Visio (a lot), Dreamweaver, and a few other low fidelity options in times past...I thought it was pretty easy for the lovely working results you get. There are also libraries for Axure these days which would have probably saved me some time if they were available when I first started using Axure.

2. I have used Visio stuff in Axure a bunch. Axure doesn't format text as nicely as sometimes required (the wrap on bullet points - even for greeked text - distracting!) so I bring in Visio stuff when necessary. I just bring them in as images, so I don't know if you mean that or preserving Visio interactions that are possible with VB (never tried that - wouldn't seem possible).

3. Nope, nada. Step away!! Lots of image maps and so forth. Nope. Nope. Nope. I'd love to see a prototyping tool that is actually as useful and budgetable as Axure that does produce compliant code though...perhaps my own ignorance here. There was a product called...mmm...don't remember...it was like the talk of the conferences a year ago...anyway...just didn't have Axure's features and my engineers would freak if I delivered them code...so I didn't march any further down that front.

4. Depicting the more animated features available through JS libraries (like drag and drop) is tough. It's a little "Wait! Pretend this happened!" and less "Ding!" or "Swoooosh!" It does seem like a loved and cared for product, so I sit here in my cube...always hopeful.

Since you mentioned documentation - they seem to have done a lot around that, but I still haven't reached nirvana on that...I do a lot of stuff that seems to work best using their notion of dynamic panels (ala web app) vs. their notion of pages (ala traditional refresh sort of thing) and I have found generating ready-to-go specs a bit of a challenge.

Becky Reed

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Helen Killingbeck
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 5:45 PM
To: IXDA list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Axure - Questions...and more questions

Thinking about using Axure for prototyping as there are many great benefits
from a documentation point of view.
However I am wondering about the learning curve and the ability to import
previously documented high level page structures (Visio)

Questions
1. What would be your estimate regarding the learning curve (timewise) to
becoming productive with Axure without feeling like you are blowing the
project timelines for deliverables?

2. Can you import Visio drawings into Axure?

3. My understanding is that Axure produces html code. So how compliant is
the code when trying to ensure WCAG 2 compliant code?

4. What are the downfalls of using Axure?

Thanks in advance.

Helen
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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30 Jan 2009 - 3:42am
Mike Padgett
2008

Hi there, Helen,

Couple of things to throw in on this one, hopefully without muddying the waters:

*** AJAX, Axure and prototyping ***

Becky Reed, earlier:
"Depicting the more animated features available through JS libraries (like drag and drop) is tough"

Becky's absolutely right about that. Not that I would single out Axure, it's just that the problem probably goes deeper than any particular brand of prototyping software. It's been alluded to already:

http://www.andersramsay.com/2008/10/29/three-reasons-why-i-dont-use-prototyping-tools/

(and subsequently)

http://toddwarfel.com/archives/three-reasons-not-to-use-prototyping-tools/

... and attempts have been made to address it ...

http://particletree.com/features/a-designers-guide-to-prototyping-ajax/

But as Anders says, the tools themselves are always playing catch-up. Vendors can only really follow up with patterns reflecting what we've already created by a consensus of good usability. Or, to put it in blunt and grossly unfair terms, they take what we created and sell it back to us as workflow! Hey, just kidding ;-)

*** WCAG prototypes ***

I also wondered why you were interested in generating WCAG code for your prototype. Is it because you intend to test your prototype with assistive technology users as your test subjects?

With the best will in the world, Axure and friends would probably find it pretty tough to do genuinely accessible output. So if that is indeed your requirement, I would recommend that you go "grassroots" and build some basic XHTML/CSS focusing on the specific functionality you want to test (rather than building whole page layouts, for example).

Mike Padgett
-------------------
www.mikepadgett.com
-------------------

>1. My experience (myself and a production designer) has been the learning
>curve isn't too bad...a few days of intense work and a trial run learning how
>dynamic panels and events need to be layered to work best. I've used Visio (a
>lot), Dreamweaver, and a few other low fidelity options in times past...I
>thought it was pretty easy for the lovely working results you get. There are
>also libraries for Axure these days which would have probably saved me some
>time if they were available when I first started using Axure.
>
>2. I have used Visio stuff in Axure a bunch. Axure doesn't format text as
>nicely as sometimes required (the wrap on bullet points - even for greeked
>text - distracting!) so I bring in Visio stuff when necessary. I just bring
>them in as images, so I don't know if you mean that or preserving Visio
>interactions that are possible with VB (never tried that - wouldn't seem
>possible).
>
>3. Nope, nada. Step away!! Lots of image maps and so forth. Nope. Nope. Nope.
>I'd love to see a prototyping tool that is actually as useful and budgetable
>as Axure that does produce compliant code though...perhaps my own ignorance
>here. There was a product called...mmm...don't remember...it was like the talk
>of the conferences a year ago...anyway...just didn't have Axure's features and
>my engineers would freak if I delivered them code...so I didn't march any
>further down that front.
>
>4. Depicting the more animated features available through JS libraries (like
>drag and drop) is tough. It's a little "Wait! Pretend this happened!" and less
>"Ding!" or "Swoooosh!" It does seem like a loved and cared for product, so I
>sit here in my cube...always hopeful.
>
>Since you mentioned documentation - they seem to have done a lot around that,
>but I still haven't reached nirvana on that...I do a lot of stuff that seems
>to work best using their notion of dynamic panels (ala web app) vs. their
>notion of pages (ala traditional refresh sort of thing) and I have found
>generating ready-to-go specs a bit of a challenge.
>
>Becky Reed
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
>[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Helen
>Killingbeck
>Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 5:45 PM
>To: IXDA list
>Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Axure - Questions...and more questions
>
>Thinking about using Axure for prototyping as there are many great benefits
>from a documentation point of view.
>However I am wondering about the learning curve and the ability to import
>previously documented high level page structures (Visio)
>
>
>Questions
>1. What would be your estimate regarding the learning curve (timewise) to
>becoming productive with Axure without feeling like you are blowing the
>project timelines for deliverables?
>
>2. Can you import Visio drawings into Axure?
>
>3. My understanding is that Axure produces html code. So how compliant is
>the code when trying to ensure WCAG 2 compliant code?
>
>4. What are the downfalls of using Axure?
>
>Thanks in advance.
>
>Helen
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

30 Jan 2009 - 4:15am
Nik
2009

If you're looking to create WCAG prototypes, why not look at the
Polypage jQuery plugin. You can then build your own xhtml/css templates
and maintain complete control of the code. It also gives you a great
starting point for the build as well.

http://code.new-bamboo.co.uk/polypage/

Nik

30 Jan 2009 - 11:32am
Gloria Petron
2007

Hi Helen,
Once I started using Axure, I couldn't go back. I'm able to mock up
behavioral examples such as search and dynamic menus much more quickly than
I did in Dreamweaver.
Best,
Gloria

30 Jan 2009 - 12:00pm
Iain Lowe
2008

Hi there:

Axure RP is just a tool. Like Visio, iRise, HTML, paper etc., it works well for some things, less well for others, and not at all for a few.

Your initial questions have been answered pretty clearly, but I'll throw in a feature that I think a lot of people overlook:

Axure is workgroup friendly. In my shop, Trapeze Media, we're working on figuring out how to use it not only for prototyping, but for documenting as many aspects of the project as we can. Since Axure RP files can be stored in SubVersion repositories, multiple authors can contribute to an Axure project. For us, this means that UX folks can create conceptual wires, developers can add notes about where data comes from/gets written to, and QA people can generate lists of error message for form exceptions.

One other thing: Axure has a very strong and friendly user community, and I have, frankly, never met a company that was as quick to respond to feature requests, suggestions, and bug reports. Seriously.

-Iain

30 Jan 2009 - 12:06pm
Loren Baxter
2007

I've been a huge fan of Axure since making the switch from Visio. Axure
sacrifices some control of the visual-flourishes that Visio allows, but if
you are prototyping in low-fidelity then this is not a problem. In terms of
learning curve, like others have said, it's basically similar to Visio plus
extra interactive functionality. Learning these additional features is both
fun and useful.

As for AJAX, the Axure community has been thriving and people are working on
these problems as we speak. For instance, Jeff Harrison recently came up
with a very nice Drag & Drop simulation (see
http://axure.com/cs/forums/post/4059.aspx - you need Axure to open it and
generate to HTML). Animations are possible, they just require some magic
and patience. Here's an animated drawer, for example:
http://iconicarts.110mb.com/axure/drawer/

And never, ever use the prototype HTML in real production!

Loren

-----
http://acleandesign.com

On Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 2:32 PM, Gloria Petron <gpetron at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Helen,
> Once I started using Axure, I couldn't go back. I'm able to mock up
> behavioral examples such as search and dynamic menus much more quickly than
> I did in Dreamweaver.
> Best,
> Gloria
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

30 Jan 2009 - 12:22pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> 1. What would be your estimate regarding the learning curve (timewise) to
> becoming productive with Axure without feeling like you are blowing the
> project timelines for deliverables?

Spend 2 or days just playing around with it. Experiment with Masters and
figure out how to emulate DHTML behaviors, etc. Then dive in. The learning
curve is pretty low, but Axure only really comes to life once you figure out
some of these less obvious things.

3. My understanding is that Axure produces html code. So how compliant is
> the code when trying to ensure WCAG 2 compliant code?

I wouldn't touch that code with a 10-foot pole. It's prototype code. Don't
use it for anything real.

4. What are the downfalls of using Axure?

It's Windows-only. If I could use it on my Mac, I would prefer it over
OmniGraffle in a lot of cases.

-r-

30 Jan 2009 - 3:21pm
Eugene Kim
2005

Hi Helen, my 2 cents:

> 1. What would be your estimate regarding the learning
> curve (timewise) to becoming productive with Axure
> without feeling like you are blowing the project
> timelines for deliverables?

I learned on the job with regular projects, putting in the extra time
to watch the demos and playing around with the various patterns other
users created. You can learn a lot in one day, but it'll probably
take a week before you're really comfortable (I'm talking about the
prototyping and/or specifications portions--dragging widgets over and
making a wireframe a la Visio is obviously a snap).

2. Can you import Visio
> drawings into Axure?

Nope, but it's a common request so I'm sure it's something Axure
has thought about. You can copy and paste but they'll turn into
images which probably won't have the functionality you need when
prototyping. But after the initial transfer over from Visio, you
wouldn't have to use it again since your next project is from
scratch.

3. My understanding is that
> Axure produces html code. So how compliant is the
> code when trying to ensure WCAG 2 compliant code?

Like others have mentioned, the code is "optimized" for prototyping
purposes.

> 4. What are the downfalls of using Axure?

- The widget library isn't as robust as Visio's stencil collection,
but this is changing rapidly. The latest version update includes the
ability to create custom widgets.
- Windows-only, but you can use something like Parallels Desktop to
work around this

It's my favorite go-to tool!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37926

30 Jan 2009 - 10:35am
Kim McGalliard
2006

I agree with pretty much everything Becky said about Axure, though I would add that while it's easy to pick up the basics of Axure, it does take a little more time to figure out how to put together the interactions. Part of this is because there are lots of things the software won't let you do easily, but if you know the software well enough, you can find ways to fake it. In some cases, I spent lots of time putting together a prototype thinking I could get something to work one way, then I'd have to go back 'cludge' something together to make it work the way I wanted it to. This is yet another reason never to expect Axure prototypes to be development ready code.

Another thing to consider is the presentation quality and visual fidelity of Axure. As Becky pointed out, there isn't very many options on how you can make text appear, and Axure prototypes are generally very low fidelity and aren't very pretty. If you're using them just to work with developers and 'concept' or explore different interactions and navigation structures, Axure is great, but I'm not sure I would ever use Axure wireframes as client deliverables (depending on the client, of course). Also, printing is iffy. You have to structure the layers on the page so they don't appear when you print pages, which may be contrary to the way you want the prototype to work.

I definitely used it in conjunction with Visio, but I would create jpgs of Visio wireframes (that I had done for other parts of the site, or that had more graphical and page elements on them - headers, footers etc.) and then I would add layers or other elements to show interactions. As far as I know, there isn't a way to 'import' Visio work you've already done and move forward from there.

Kim

30 Jan 2009 - 12:40pm
Alley Rutzel
2009

Becky, the product you're referring to is Adobe Flash Catalyst (aka
Thermo) and it is expected to go into public beta soon. Here's the
link to the Adobe site:
http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcatalyst/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37926

5 Feb 2009 - 9:33pm
Helen Killingbeck
2005

I really appreciated the fantastic responses to this list (and off list)
with regards to using Axure for prototyping and the learning curves, ability
to import Visio, and whether it produces production ready (and WCAG
compliant) code.

Based on everyone's feedback, I have recommended using this tool for a
massive project that has aggressive timelines. I've been working with Axure
in the evening hours and I'm impressed with its potential.

My new question:

Has anyone experienced the situation where professionals (not trained in the
field of interaction design and User Experience) have taken this same tool
to heart and have created prototypes that truly violate principles of
design, but they see how quickly they can produce a prototype?

How you do you handle it?

Thanks in advance!

Helen

On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 7:44 PM, Helen Killingbeck <4thmedium at gmail.com>wrote:

> Thinking about using Axure for prototyping as there are many great benefits
> from a documentation point of view.
> However I am wondering about the learning curve and the ability to import
> previously documented high level page structures (Visio)
>
>
> Questions
> 1. What would be your estimate regarding the learning curve (timewise) to
> becoming productive with Axure without feeling like you are blowing the
> project timelines for deliverables?
>
> 2. Can you import Visio drawings into Axure?
>
> 3. My understanding is that Axure produces html code. So how compliant is
> the code when trying to ensure WCAG 2 compliant code?
>
> 4. What are the downfalls of using Axure?
>
> Thanks in advance.
>
> Helen
>
>
>

6 Feb 2009 - 1:01am
Fred Beecher
2006

On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 6:33 PM, Helen Killingbeck <4thmedium at gmail.com>wrote:

>
> Has anyone experienced the situation where professionals (not trained in
> the
> field of interaction design and User Experience) have taken this same tool
> to heart and have created prototypes that truly violate principles of
> design, but they see how quickly they can produce a prototype?
>

I frequently train business analysts on how to use Axure and it's not so
much that they violate principles of design (no more than they do when doing
UX-like work in Visio or PPT or whatever), but that they have a limited
ability to envision how a system would work.

> How you do you handle it?
>

The way I recommend my training clients handle it is to make sure *all*
their designing personnel (whether or not they are actually designers) are
proficient in the basics of Axure. There are usually one or two particularly
savvy or interested people who want to do more, and I encourage clients to
let them do that and then act as internal SMEs on the tool. These people,
while still not designers, typically have more of an ability to imagine how
users would interact with a system and how it would respond back to
them.They can also be given the responsibility for prototyping any
particularly dynamic interactions that may be required.

F.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fred Beecher
Sr. User Experience Consultant
Evantage Consulting
O: 612.230.3838 // M: 612.810.6745
IM: fbeecher at gmail.com (google/msn) // fredevc (aim/yahoo)
T: http://twitter.com/fred_beecher

--
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fred Beecher
Sr. User Experience Consultant
Evantage Consulting
O: 612.230.3838 // M: 612.810.6745
IM: fbeecher at gmail.com (google/msn) // fredevc (aim/yahoo)
T: http://twitter.com/fred_beecher

6 Feb 2009 - 3:43am
Andrew Boyd
2008

On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 1:33 PM, Helen Killingbeck <4thmedium at gmail.com>wrote:

> I really appreciated the fantastic responses to this list (and off list)
> with regards to using Axure for prototyping and the learning curves,
> ability
> to import Visio, and whether it produces production ready (and WCAG
> compliant) code.
>
> Based on everyone's feedback, I have recommended using this tool for a
> massive project that has aggressive timelines. I've been working with
> Axure
> in the evening hours and I'm impressed with its potential.
>
> My new question:
>
> Has anyone experienced the situation where professionals (not trained in
> the
> field of interaction design and User Experience) have taken this same tool
> to heart and have created prototypes that truly violate principles of
> design, but they see how quickly they can produce a prototype?
>
> How you do you handle it?
>
> Thanks in advance!
>
> Helen
>
>
Hi Helen,

anyone can use Axure, and truly, the tool maketh not the designer.

I've seen this happen, and the answer was patient mentoring. A poor
prototype (both the "not reflective of client/business/user need" and "OMG
how could anyone use something developed from this" type) is possible in any
tool.

Good luck with your Axure experience - I have found it to be so much better
for the way I like to work, and it has served me faithfully since early-mid
2006 - and keeps getting better.

Best regards, Andrew

--
---
Andrew Boyd
http://uxaustralia.com.au -- UX Australia Conference Canberra 2009
http://uxbookclub.org -- connect, read, discuss
http://govux.org -- the government user experience forum

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