UX prototyping for mobile apps.
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Published on September 28, 2014
A new tool for prototyping UX designs for mobile apps is being developed by Pixate. This prototyping app is designed to address the difficulty of creating functional prototypes for mobile apps. Most UX designers create early stage wireframes that are low-fidelity, then progress into creating more detailed mock-ups using tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Turning these static designs into interactive mockups remains a challenge for most designers, especially for mobile designs. While UX designers create clickable wireframes to show interaction paths, rarely are they functional apps that run native on the mobile platform. This is because functional apps require coding skills, even using tools such as Adobe’s PhoneGap which simplifies the process of creating apps across multiple devices and platforms.
Visually building native apps on mobile platforms for testing purposes is the challenge Pixate is working to resolve. The apps are created in a visual environment using their tools. Designers can import assets from tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Each imported element can be converted into its own layer, and can have interactivity added to it. This allows objects placed into a design to be clicked and dragged as a true app running on the device of your choice. This means UX designers can create apps running on these devices for testing and feedback purposes.
If Pixate is successful, screens will no longer need to be simulated or presented using Keynote or PowerPoint. Actual designs are converted to native apps, all without coding. This will allow a product manager to obtain feedback from stakeholders regarding the direction and functionality of an app, long before development time is invested in coding. UX designers and interaction designers will receive more relevant feedback regarding their proposed designs. Because the designs and interactions are created using a purely visual environment, the UX designer can be directly involved with the creation process. As Pixate is still in a prerelease state, American Graphics Institute is not yet teaching it as part of its UX training classes and workshops. Pixate is among several developers looking to improve the testing and feedback process for user experience designers, and these tools are likely to improve testing quality through the UX process.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.