My 2nd Axure Experience

After my first experience with Axure, I was very excited to try a real world scenario…. something other than the set demo that worked so well. So, I pulled out a wire frame I put together as a quick mock up (PowerPoint, my favorite mock up tool) and started recreating it.

At first impression, I thought it was pretty quick. Putting the page together was easy. Most things work as expected. After the demo walkthrough, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on some basic actions. I immediately jumped into making my master items. I have always loved using masters, which is one reason why PowerPoint has worked so well for me in the past. It was a bit odd that the sitemap node on the page tree was called “Home” rather than “Sitemap.” However, it is the “Home” of the prototype, so I let that slide. Besides, once you figure out that it doesn’t behave like a normal page, its easy to see its true functionality.

Then, I ran into a few annoying features…

Choosing colors: The color picker is a little clunky.  I wanted to use a custom color from a websafe chart, but when I toggled between my chart and Axure, the color picker is lost.  Ok, so you can find it again via Alt-Tab, but why isn’t it forced to stay up. I wouldn’t be quite so picky if this were an open source project, but I expect a $600 application to be a little more polished. This isn’t a HUGE issue, but it does get frustrating when you’re going back and forth between windows.

Second level bullets: It’s very easy to drag and drop widgets onto the page and configure them. Most formatting tools work as expected. However, I tried for about 10 minutes to create a second level of tabs within my text widget. Yes, I could’ve created a second text field and just moved it over, but I preferred to keep it as one big text field. I even went into the help system for the first time. When I clicked on the “Bullets -> Add” topic, I was told how to add a widget to the page, nothing to do with bullets. So, I gave up and just used dashes and spaces. Not an awful work around, but still frustrating.

Embedded links: So, how often do we as designers have a link in the middle of a sentence? All the time! This is my largest issue with the application so far. It is the type of thing that will make me groan every time I need to do it, until I figure out a better work-around. You cannot select text from a text widget and make it a link. You can make the entire text widget a link, but this is not useful for usability testing or for explaining the design to your team. Plus, if you have more than one link you are stuck. You can break the text into little bits, but then you have to constantly align things and deal with all the little widgets. I opted for creating links with the exact text and size of my links and overlaying them. I wasn’t completely happy with my workaround, but it wasn’t too bad. And, once you line it up and group it, everything stays in place unless you resize anything or change the text… Then its a matter of ungrouping, realigning and grouping again. As a workaround, its not awful. And, given the potential of the application, I was happy to let it slide… until I generated the prototype.

Within Axure:
linklabels_inapp
Prototype:
linklabels

Energizer bunnyThis does not mean I’ve given up on the product. All products have their flaws. I’m going to keep going and see what happens.

5 Comments »

  1. Hi, I have the same problem as you but I use a different method. I put the text with some part in blue and underline like an hypertext. After, I put over each part a rectangle with line and fill transparent. So you can add link to each button (hyperlink) even specification and group the text and hyperlink after. When you publish the prototype, you can’t see the difference and all work.

    By the way, if you need to share and comment your prototype, we developed a solution called ax-admin to do it
    http://www.axure-users.net/ax-admin/

    • tegloff said

      I’ll give that one a go. It’ll still be an issue if you re-size/edit the text, but it should at least fix my alignment issues! Thanks.

  2. Victor said

    Hi Tammie, thanks for the article. You’ve hit on a couple of the spots that we (I am the Axure RP product manager) want to address. As Régis suggested, you can overlay a rectangle on formatted link text. The image map region widget is good for that too since it is essentially a transparent rectangle.

    • tegloff said

      Thanks for taking the time to listen. I am enjoying playing with Axure. I can definitely see some advantages to using it over my other methods. I’m curious how it’ll compare to Protoshare and a new product I just heard about, fluidIA. I’ve already tried out iRise, but it’s crazy how expensive it is. It’s a decent product but definitely not feasible for me.

      • Victor said

        Glad you’re getting a chance to try out a few different options. I’m looking forward to the next article. Let me know if you need a trial extension… or if you have any questions (victor atgoeshere axure.com).

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