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Be the Brain with ProtoShare

I recently reread an interesting article by Jeff Gothelf about the assertion that Agile Development doesn’t have a brain. The most striking point in the article for me is that Agile teams don’t have a way to determine what features to build, whether they were the right ones, and whether they were built effectively.

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As a developer myself – I agree with that completely.  When I’m wearing my developer hat, I excel at answering the question “How can I do that?”.  I’m not so great at answering the question “Should I do that?” or “What else could I do?”.

In waterfall development, requirements come from a team dedicated to writing them, specifying them and preparing deliverables for development.  I’ve seen plenty of evidence that ‘requirements writers’ are experts and writing requirements, but not necessarily asking the questions Jeff posed above.

The best way to answer the “What should I do” question is to find out from the target users.  But there is a problem here too – they are no better in the abstract at answering the question than anyone else.  As Henry Ford said, if he listened to his customers he’d be building a faster horse.

The problem is that even users and potential users often don’t know what they want, or understand what’s being proposed, until they see and experience it.  But using prototyping tools like ProtoShare, you can create concrete experiences for users.  You can watch them struggle or succeed with your creation.  And you can iterate quickly until you accomplish your goals.

Even better – with a tool like ProtoShare, you can spread this experience to your entire team.  Everyone – from executives to developers to QA can use ProtoShare to experience and collaborate on creating better software solutions.  This is why some of our most successful customers start referring to ProtoShare as “the Brain” of their development processes.  ProtoShare becomes the repository of understanding for the entire team.

When you create a shared vision and a shared understanding among your team and your users, you’ll stop building the wrong features.  Want to answer the question of what you should build and how you should build it?  Use rapid prototyping to try a range of ideas, and hone it into a product that delights your users.

UX professionals are perfectly positioned to lead their teams and organizations to improving visualization practices, but anyone on the team, from executives to interns can contribute. Just start.  Crank out ideas and share them.  Your team will wonder how they ever did it any other way.

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How to set up Tab Ordering

Some users may be unsure on how to change the order that components are selected with the Tab key. The order is based on the position of the components in the outline.

Tab Ordering

Check the screenshot above for an example. A user who clicks on Field 1 and then presses tab will make the cursor jump to Field 3 next since it is below it in the outline. Moving Field 1 above Field 2 will allow the tab ordering to flow properly.  You can move the fields by dragging them in the listing.

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Happy Halloween!

From everyone here at ProtoShare, we hope you have a great Halloween. If you’ve really procrastinated and still need a costume idea, ReadWrite has some great geeky suggestions.

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Use Google Material Design Icons (or any icons!) in ProtoShare

Google just released a really nice set of icons that you can use for your mobile designs and websites – the Google Material Design Icon set.  You can see a preview of the Icons as SVG here, and you can download the entire set here.  These icons are the icons featured in the Google Material Design specification.

Did you know you can use these icons, as SVG or PNG in ProtoShare just by dragging and dropping them onto your canvas?  This quick video shows using Google’s icon preview, as well as how to use the icons if you’ve downloaded the source.  And this isn’t just limited to Google’s Icons.  Any icon set that you have on your computer or online, you can just drag and drop the images (svg, png, jpg or gif) onto your ProtoShare canvas.

For your convenience, we’ve added these icons to our stencil library.

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Low Fidelity Prototypes

Here at ProtoShare we’re fans of the agile methodology and advocate for designing early and iterating often. I came across a great write up on low fidelity prototyping that was posted on Smashing Magazine. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Have you ever overspent resources in a rush or accomplished too little for being a perfectionist? Low-fidelity prototyping helps us to find the middle ground between overspending and overthinking, between too little investment and too much user validation. By building a practical, preliminary version of your product, you will catch potential problems and promising insights faster and earlier in the process.

We definitely agree that starting with low fidelity designs and working your way towards the end look is the best process. Especially when you consider time spent on creating high fidelity designs that may require re-work. The article offers some additional insight into the advantages of low fidelity prototyping and the quick start guide at the end may be particularly useful for those new to the ideology.

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