Working on a clickable prototype in the last couple of weeks I am reminded again of how much I can do in Axure that I couldn’t do in Visio. User Experience Design is all about context and while I know I got a lot of great information using pap
er prototypes, there is another layer of learning I’ve achieved by allowing these users to personalize their experience using a clickable prototype based on where they navigate and what they enter and displaying that information back to them.
- Masters are object in Axure that allow you to use the same content and functionality in many different places in your prototype. When you change something on a master, that change shows up in each place you’ve used it. They’re a little like stencils and background pages in Visio, but in Axure you can make them highly functional.
- I recently created a login master that can detect and respond to six different actions when the user clicks on Submit. If I have to change the variable, error messages, button or field size I can do it in one spot. I love that!
- Dynamic panels allowyou to prototype really rich interactions into your prototypes. They let you change content on the page without reloading, make things invisible and visible and they let you move stuff around on the page.
- It took the release of “Move” functionality before I could really love dynamic panels. Having to create a master for every navigation option and then X number of dynamic panels to show every state of that navigation was really annoying. Now I move the navigation using multiple dynamic panels that can expand and collapse.
- I am also a big fan of hidden dynamic panels, especially for error conditions or fields that appear based on a selection. The added functionality of “Bring Panel to Front” allows me to position it behind the basic design of the screen so I don’t have to move it every time I make a change.
- The dynamic panel manager is a dreamy somewhat new addition. It’s a palette that lets me change the name of, reposition the order of and open a single state of a dynamic panel without having to double click
the panel and work from a dialog box. It seems a lot more user friendly.
Conditional Logic and Variables
- Conditional logic allows you to make a prototype that can respond dynamically to user input.
Variables allow you to store that user input so you can display it on any page of the prototype.
- I’ve only really started using these features in the last year, but they are by far my favorite. I can mimic a lot of the functionality of a live site which makes user testing run a little more smoothly. The days when users told me “My name is not John Doe and that’s not where I live” are over. Now I can set up a variable that records what they have entered and displays it back to them. Just like the real INTERNET. It’s crazy.
- The only thing I have a problem with is creating variables for every element of user input and I often have to remind myself that the test plan is fulfilled and I need to step away from conditional logic and variable writing to focus on the basic design of the prototype. Axure recently removed the 25 variable limitation, so my personal restraint is all I have left. This will not be easy.
Most of my prototypes these days are full of hidden dynamic panels, nested masters and lots of conditional logic and variables. Like a magic show, things move around, appear, disappear and the glitz is illusion. The behind the scenes workings are complex and fascinating, but to the audience it all looks seamless. I love that!