8 Posts about
Prototyping

Leap day charity event

I don’t know if you realised this, but we have a free day this year! Yes, 1 free day. How would you spend it? Let’s be honest, you’d probably just go to work.

At Bunnyfoot, we decided to donate the extra day to charity so we got in touch with some exceptionally brilliant charities that make a difference to our world but are just not big enough to provide the super slick websites that established charities can.


Test and learn trend continues into 2014

Looking at trends for this year can be done with guidance from developments made last year. Econsultancy have recently predicted a number of digital trends for 2014, including a greater focus on experimentation and agility.


Your guide to card sorting and how to use it

An introduction to card sorting

Card sorting. It’s really as simple as it sounds, but one of the most effective tools in user centred design to understand how your customers navigate to structure your content and name your sections.

I’m going to use this blog post to try and give you an overview of card sorting – what it is, how we use it and why you should make it a part of your next design project.


Children are the stars of World Usability Day

11th November 2010 saw World Usability Day being celebrated around the world. We took part by hosting a design competition on World Usability Day’s theme of “Communication”. We had an amazing morning with the kids from Royal Mile and Niddrie Mill primary schools. In the last month they have built their prototypes following user centred design principles, and after a round of testing at the Bunnyfoot offices they have made all their changes and were ready to put their ideas to a panel of judges.

Prizes up for grabs were:
Best Presentation, Most Usable Device, Most Innovative Device and Most Realistic Prototype.
Children having fun


Children learn usability is the key to great communication tools

This week, we’ve been overrun with 10-11 year olds from Royal Mile and Long Niddrie Mill primary schools, showing us up with their amazing ideas for how to improve communication in their schools for World Usability Day.

We’re hoping to teach them that usability is a key element when designing tools for communication by helping them to test their products in a professional environment. Each team appointed a moderator, then watched from the viewing room as a group tested their prototypes.


The Best Free and Affordable Web Apps for Creating Wireframes and Interactive Prototypes

January 11, 2010 - This post has 2 comments
Posted by in Tools and resources
Tags: ,

Wireframing with a desktop app? Oh come on – that’s so 2009.

Recent months have seen a slew of online web apps specifically for the creation of low-fidelity, clickable prototypes. It all started with “Balsamiq” some time ago now (complete with Comic Sans default font scandal) and has quickly progressed to an alarming array of free and affordable options.

Over at Bunnyfoot towers we’ve been giving them a spin. Here’s a quick rundown.

Mockflow

http://www.mockflow.com/
Pricing: 1 mockup with 4 pages is free, or $49 per year for pretty much unrestricted use.

The overall experience feels swift and straightforward after initial bump of a UI learning curve. The key differentiator over others on test here is the ability to co-edit mockups with collaborators. Online chat is also built in, making it easy to work together to craft your dream app.

Other nice features include align guides as you draw, a comprehensive library of components and quick and easy sharing (both private and public).

The main gripe whilst editing was the lack of keyboard shortcuts (at least on a Mac), making every copy and paste a menu selection.

screen shot of the mockflow application

screen shot of the mockflow application

iPlotz

http://www.iplotz.com
Pricing: free for 1 mockup with 5 pages. Subscription packages from $15 per month to $495 for 10 users with desktop and online access.

Phew. iPlotz is a beast. As well as wireframing, you also get an array of project management features, including to-do lists and completion status. There are also other powerful features such as version control, fine drawing tools, HTML export and annotations. It also makes a mean cappucino if you ask nicely enough!

Putting together a mockup is fairly straight-forward, once you’ve become accustomed to the (quite busy) interface. The default “sketchy” style is similar in feel to Balsamiq (see below), but a little less “play school” in feel.

Of course the trade-off with many powerful features is simplicity. The overall experience is more akin to a desktop app and takes some determined effort to feel comfortable.

screen shot of the iplotz application

screen shot of the iplotz application

Balsamiq

http://www.balsamiq.com
Pricing: free for online use, $79 for desktop app.

Balsamiq is fairly well known in web circles, and courted controversy with it’s choice of the oft-slammed font Comic Sans as a default (although you can change this).

The overall experience is not bad: drag, drop and edit works reasonably well. You can also search for widgets and add them to your canvas with the press of an enter key, speeding up the drawing process. There are some nice human touches: there’s an inspirational design quote as the app loads.

You can export your design, but unfortunately you can’t easily share your mockups – you need the desktop version to do this.

Overall, the end result feels a little too playful for serious heavy duty projects – we’re not sure how well it would go down in the financial sector for example.

screen shot of the balsamiq application

screen shot of the balsamiq application

Mocking Bird

http://gomockingbird.com
Pricing: free (currently still in beta).

Probably the slickest of the apps on offer here, Mocking Bird has a clean look and easy to learn UI.

Like Balsamiq, you can get stuck in and create a mockup without creating an account (you get a prompt to signup on save).

There’s nothing drastically new on offer in terms of drawing tools, but they work well and there’s a comprehensive library of components to start you off.

Public sharing is also pretty straight-forward, making it easy to send out a link for user feedback. There’s no private sharing unfortunately, although the URL is sufficiently obscure.

On the downside, it’s not straightforward to create precise pixel width layouts (there’s no ruler or way to specify exact sizes) and no page masters or templates to save on copy and pasting.
So will we be throwing away Axure anytime soon? Well, the job is not entirely done — there’s a gulf between quick and dirty concept tools and full-blown, enterprise standard specifications. It also requires a client with a good understanding of the design and user research process and confidence in the value of low-fidelity, disposable prototypes. Oh, and maybe a soft-spot for Comic Sans.

screen shot of the mockingbird application

screen shot of the mockingbird application

The biggest boon has got to be the ease and speed of sharing (anyone trying to upload an Axure prototype with its 1,000s of spacer gifs via a slow connection will feel our pain). It’s dead easy to get an idea online for client review and a rapid round of user feedback.

Got your own favourite, or an opinion on these apps? Have  you used them on client projects? Let us know.


Usability Snowman

January 7, 2010 - This post has 2 comments
Posted by in News/ Announcements
Tags: ,

Well, we asked for some snow donations on Twitter and they came in in abundance! One day there was not even a hint of frost and the next, we were ankle deep in snow, working from home, but still managing to inject some Bunnyfoot fun into the day with a “usability snowman” competition across our UK offices (I hope Hong Kong don’t feel too left out!).

2 hours, some snow and a little imagination produced an outright winner from Oxford’s Usability Consultant, Nick Antram. Here’s his entry…

Here is an attempt at a usable snowman. We talked to local snowmen users and asked them what they really wanted out of their snowmen and the overwhelming response of the 2 people we spoke to was that snowmen needed to be not only big fat piles of snow that were funny to look at, but useful too!

Popular suggestions were:

  • To have a flashing light on the top so users could easily see the snowman in a snowstorm
  • Have a comfy seat to allow users to have a nice sit down after struggling through the snow
  • To have a nice cuppa tea (when is this not a popular suggestion?)

So we sketched some ideas:

Well ok, just one

Initial sketches of a usable snowman

Did some anthropometric analysis and fitting trials:

Scientific sketches to make sure the snowman chair is viable

Which gave us the 95th percentile of users

Then we user tested it thoroughly in blizzard like conditions **

And this is the result…

The snowmatic ergsnowchair!

Snowman Chair in its completed form

With some final user testing, we just knew it was perfect.

Nicks quest for to build an ergonomic chair

* Ergonomic principles may not have been used
** May not have been user tested thoroughly


20 Minutes to a Better Website Structure

For World Usability Day, Bunnyfoot have been working with sustainable charities across the country to perform free expert evaluations of their websites. The charity sector is a sector where budgets are typically tight (if non-existent) yet there is great expectation on web managers to increase donations and maximise the performance of their sites.

We’ve spent the last month working with a number of charities (gratis) to help guide improvements on their sites and we’d like to share a quick process for generating ideas for your website quickly and cheaply.

Time required: 20-30 mins
What you get: Ideas for prioritizing content and page layout to maximize engagement with customers.

Overview

To provide an example we’ve used www.bunnyfoot.com to show how you can use this activity to enhance the design of your site. Remember, this is a top exercise if you have NO research budget and aren’t exactly sure how to start prioritizing content for your customer groups. This exercise is relevant for any type of site, and we find it a great starting point when thinking about initial designs and improvements.

Disclaimer:

This is a kick starter activity; it’s not a complete high performance engine and shouldn’t be used as one. This is no substitute for engaging with your customers, but rather a great starting point in helping you to create customer journeys and prioritise your site content. Use this activity as a means for generating some good ideas quickly.

1. Think about the content your customers need

2. Sketch the layout according to content priority

3. Try some detailed pages using the same method

1. Think about the content your customers need

Your customers are getting to your site, somehow. Step 1 is to think about who they are (in the case of Bunnyfoot these could be a prospective customer, an existing customer, a competitor, a job seeker, a journalist and so on). List all the potential customers and then next to each customer type ask yourself, “What are they looking for?” (to continue our example with Bunnyfoot, information needs of our customer groups could be Case studies, Contact details, Company History, Services, etc).

2. Sketch the layout according to content priority

Once you have identified the needs of each audience group, you can start to count the number of instances where customers are looking for the same content (e.g. a prospective customer, existing customer, competitor and job seeker could all be looking for more information about services; this would result in 4 counts). Once you have counted up the instances of cross over, a pattern for content priority will emerge.
Once you have the counted priority, pick up a pen and paper and start to sketch out your content according to priority. ANYONE can do this, you don’t need to be a designer, and your sketches certainly don’t have to be pretty. The purpose is to think about how you’re going to give your customers the information they need.

Sidenote: We often undertake usability testing of hand-drawn screens; it’s a low cost and effective technique we use with our clients. With a limited budget, there’s nothing to stop you taking these initial designs to representative customer groups and getting some feedback.

3. Try some detailed pages using the same method

After you’ve finished with the homepage, go on to explore other key pages. We’ve shown an example of what our new case study page could look like. To create this we thought of what the story of a case study was and what are the most interesting aspects people need to find out about. For our site ROI was top priority followed by a summary of the brief the services used, the team involved, the process/services used, example output and a client quote. It’s natural for other ideas to be generated at this point, for example we’d like to add the feature for people to comment on our case studies and the approach taken on the original brief.

Conclusion

Going through the exercise helps with the content and layout, and will also aid insight into navigation and user journeys to tie different content together.
 After 20 mins we have a good idea about the customer groups and their information needs, and we have some initial sketches to take to our customer groups. Ultimately, many of these sketches will be thrown out – we don’t expect our new site to end up looking like it’s been drawn on a flip chart. However, many of the ideas generated during the process will be included in the end design for some low budget but effective quick-wins.


Read enough? Get in touch...

Contact Caroline Bentley to discuss your needs:
0207 608 1670 more@bunnyfoot.com

Or come visit us, we have offices in Oxford, Sheffield and London.