Tools We Use: Axure
Jan 27, 2016
Here at Centerline, we use a variety of tools and technologies all designed to help us work better, and smarter. Every Wednesday, we’ll bring you a different technology, explaining why and how we use it, as well as discussing the benefits and disadvantages to each. Feel free to disagree with us on Twitter @Centerline.
A great design isn’t just decorative; it’s a solution to a problem. As a UX designer, I’m a big fan of prototyping. It allows me to see how aspects of a design work together and helps identify potential pain points and opportunities in the early stages of design. Long gone are the days of illegibly sketching out screens on uneven cut pieces of computer paper, because now there are digital prototyping software solutions.
One of my favorite software tools is Axure.
So, what is it?
Axure is interactive wireframe software that gives you the power to quickly generate and deliver mockups. Once the designs have been created, you can share it with clients via a generated HTML link, helping synthesize the end-experience for clients.
Okay. How do I use it?
I have used Axure to prototype both websites and applications. The interface (below) is very simplistic and fairly simple to get started.
You create a page by dragging JQuery widget into the design area and then add interactions to appropriate links and animations. Once your design is created, you can upload it to Axure Share where it will generate a sharable link with HTML code to show clients and other team members in their web browser.
It is important to note that Axure does not give you the same level of interactivity as traditional coding would. What it does give you is the experience of what you’d want in the prototyping phase for only a fraction of the effort of coding.
In some cases, all you need is a quick click through between pages – and Axure can accommodate that – but it’s not where this software shines.
- Controls for adding interactivity to individual elements
- Excellent for prototyping dynamic content or interactivity between elements
- Built-in library of customizable widgets
- Online library to download additional widgets
- Excellent training, support documents and videos
- Great to prototype on multiple platforms
- Helps communicate with developers by showing behaviors of elements
- Axure is easy to get started, but it has a steep learning curve. There are lots of individual element customizations on interactions that need to be learned.
- Many of the device templates and libraries are for purchase only. As a UX Designer, templates can be invaluable because they’re already organized, labeled, and designed for various devices and screen sizes.
- The price tag can make it out of reach for individuals or small businesses.
- It isn’t supported by all web browsers; Chrome requires you download a plug-in.
The amount of prototyping software options out there can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for one with advanced features for design, as well as interactive feedback capabilities, then Axure would be my personal recommendation.
About Jillian: My cats think I’m the food-bringer, my parents think I’m a web developer, but really I’m a user advocate with a passion for making people’s lives better through problem-solving and design. Chat me up on Twitter at @jilliancairco.