Mohammad Al-Ubaydli’s blog

Prototyping user interfaces

Posted in Technology by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on August 14, 2008

One of the most interesting features of LinkedIn is the ability to ask questions. I was put off at first because most of the questions were advertorials masquerading as questions. But if you have a serious question there are some seriously helpful people waiting to answer it.

Today I asked about prototyping tools:

I am outsourcing the development of software based on my paper prototypes. I have done this a few times in the past for small-scale projects, but the one I am working on now is a large one so efficiency is more important.

Does any one know of template I should use for laying out my instructions to the programmers? I do not want to over-engineer this, so I do not want book references or entire methodologies to adopt. A simple template, ideally with a couple of examples, is all I need at this stage.

Thank you!

And I was blown away by the quality of the answers. I knew about Gliffy already because I love the company’s software, but I did not know that they were actively promoting it for this prototyping. However, I do not like the pricing structure of the company, especially as I am in bootstrap mode, and besides in the past the software was a little slower than I had wanted it to be. Given that its competition is paper, I wanted to explore the other solutions recommended.

Extremeplanner, MockupScreens , and Axure look good but I want the software to be web-based to ease collaboration. In the end what impressed me the most is Balsamiq, built by a talented developer who is focused on integrating its excellent feature set with different wikis. He started with Confluence, my least favourite wiki, but I guess he is pursuing the Enterprise customers. TWiki is next on the development time-line and I will now try to convince him to include Deki Wiki, my current favourite.

One gem I had not expected to find recommended was the wireframe guidelines by Yahoo!. The company continues to impress me with its understanding of the hacker ethos, rolling out products like BOSS, an open search engine, and Fire Eagle, an open geocoding framework. I do not know if these efforts are too little too late to help the company, but they are certainly helpful to me.

And what was the point of all these tools? It was to create prototypes for my diabetes mellitus personal health records software of course. The designs are confidential for now, but if you would like to participate, do drop me a line on mohammad at patientsknowbest dot com.


One Response

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  1. Dave said, on August 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Hey, what’s up? I’m the guy that answered your LinkedIn Question re: Gliffy. Glad you like the software. I’m interested to hear more about your thoughts on the pricing structure. We’re currently working on a developer integration API and considering some different or additional models of pricing. If you’ve got any specific thoughts, we’d love to hear them. Just shoot me an email at the address in the post.

    Also wouldn’t mind hearing about what parts of the application you feel are slow or could be improved.



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