August 2016 -

August 2016 -

6 Productive Prototyping Tools

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Prototyping

Prototyping is one of the most important steps in the design process. A prototype is the sample model of the application (web and mobile), which gives us the ability to test the app and determine if the solutions and decisions made for the application are efficient. Prototyping tools help in finding emerging trends and to solve the interaction problems that may arise.

Dozens of prototype tools are available in the market. An initial research that we conducted helped us narrow down on the 6 best tools. They are:

  • OmniGraffle
  • Axure
  • JustInMind
  • Invision
  • Adobe Experience Design
  • Flinto

Let’s analyze each of them in detail.

OmniGraffle (for mac and ios)

OmniGraffle

OmniGraffle is used for creating precise, beautiful graphics, such as website wireframes, an electrical system design, a family tree, or mapping out software classes. It can be used by artists, designers, casual data-mappers, and everyone in-between. The best part of OmniGraffle is that the stencil files are readily available online for various frameworks and platforms. With a quick Google search, you can find a wide selection of stencils for UI elements on the iOS platform, Twitter Bootstrap, and more.

Pros

  • It is the market leader in diagramming software for Mac.
  • It has a wide variety of diagramming shapes and templates.
  • Users appreciate the attractive output that OmniGraffle produces.
  • The program offers Standard and Professional options for each new version and has an affordable upgrade charge. This allows users to get the new version at a significant discount.
  • OmniGraffle is a downloaded product and can be used for as long as it’s compatible with your device.

Cons

  • It’s a Mac-only product.
  • OmniGraffle doesn’t support collaborative editing.
  • The upfront cost may be too expensive for individuals and small organizations.

Axure RP

Axure

Axure RP is a desktop application that gives businesses and UX professionals diagramming, documentation and interactive tools to quickly design and share interactive prototypes and specifications.

Pros

  • The drag and drop interface and elements provide for quick and easy designing.
  • It provides tons of online libraries of icons, widgets, templates (including smartphone templates), and other elements.
  • It makes it possible to move progressively from placeholders to high-fidelity prototypes using/within the same program.
  • It allows you to post your prototype on a secure website so that stakeholders can interact with it (provide users with a link and optional password choices).

Cons

  • The dynamic panels can be a pain to deal with as some of the functions in them are not intuitive.
  • Its standard library of shapes is primitive, often requiring extensive editing or imported libraries of shapes to fit the needs of the given project. On top of this, editing shapes and the shape of photos in Axure can prove to be more difficult than other applications.
  • It does not have an extensive font selection.
  • It would be beneficial for developers when coding a project if Axure included more CSS options that developers could inherit from.

JustInMind

JustInMind

Justinmind is a flexible prototyping tool that supports many devices and works well for simple click-through prototypes as well as for more complex interactions. Prototypes can be created from existing mocks or by building screens within Justinmind using the libraries of standard assets. It now supports the simultaneous execution of multiple events.

Pros

  • Device-specific templates and features.
  • Quick and intuitive when adding assets via drag + drop.
  • Simulate feature generates a web preview of fully interactive prototype with a device frame.
  • Fine-grain controls for adding interactivity to individual elements.
  • Support for gesture-based interaction.
  • Option to add animation to individual elements or transition effects to links.

Cons

  • Moderate learning curve; takes some time to get oriented for a first-time user.

Invision

InVission

Invision is the best rapid prototyping tool. We can facilitate design discussions asynchronously, track feedback from everyone on the team, and demonstrate interactions easily and efficiently. It’s great for taking images and making clickable image prototypes that do the job effectively while saving a lot of time.

Pros

  • It’s Easy to learn.
  • It helps in fast execution.
  • Sharing and commenting available for a collective feedback.
  • Asset management feature available.

Cons

  • Only good for working with existing mocks and no features present for creating or modifying elements in the tool
  • Interactivity limited to hotspots or timeouts to move between screens

Adobe Experience Design (Preview)

AdobeXD

Adobe Experience Design CC (formerly Project Comet) is the first all-in-one tool for UX designers. We can design and prototype websites and mobile apps efficiently with it.

Pros

  • Clean and intuitive interface
  • Repeat Grid tool allows users to create content grids (such as post lists, inventory catalogs, and user tables) extremely quickly.
  • It is fully integrated with other Adobe’s products,
  • It recognizes the type of content you’re trying to drag-and-drop in it.
  • It allows sharing prototypes by uploading them to Adobe servers.

Cons

  • Lack of the layer panel.
  • Too plain and limited tools for creating new graphics.
  • The absence of styles and symbols.
  • Almost no layer effects. You will barely find any layer effects except Drop Shadow.

Flinto

Flinto

Flinto for Mac is a comprehensive app prototyping tool that allows you to create anything from simple tap-through prototypes to comprehensive prototypes with impressive interactions. Flinto has been carefully designed for Mac to minimize complexity. There’s no programming or timelines. It’s the prototyping tool designers have been waiting for.

Pros

  • 3D transformations
  • Transition tags allow animations to be reused across screens
  • Desktop previews with a full-screen option
  • View live previews in Flinto app
  • Uses artboards like Sketch
  • Built-in gestures: Tap, double tap, long tap, swipe, touchdown

Cons

  • Scroll groups require a lot of setup for what should be a relatively easy task
  • No Photoshop import
  • Have to download the free Flinto app to open Flinto documents on devices
  • No animation value export, making it difficult to share specs with developers

Comparison

We all have different purposes and different expectations when it comes to prototyping. Choosing the right tool is a big part of creating good prototypes on time. The following table allows you to compare the prototype tools and might help you in finding the best one.

comparision

We shall look deep into the other prototyping tools such as PowerPoint Prototyping Toolkit and Balsamiq in the subsequent posts.

The content in this post is not meant to favor or promote any of the mentioned products. This is solely my personal opinion as a tech lover.

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in handcrafting custom solutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We have maximized the revenues of industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank and National Stock Exchange of India by providing enhanced and sustained user engagement through Experience Engineering.

About The Author: Thangapandian Chinnaiyan Is a UI designer, a relentless problem solver looking to create more meaningful solutions. An IT professional who also goes by the name tango in dance circles.

Securing Financial Mobility Platform – Part 4

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[The last post in this blog series was on mobility platform security from the users’ perspective. We will now take a deeper look at the same from the network and server perspective.]

In the current IT scenario of distributed systems, the web & app servers act as a communication endpoint for the consumption of data and services. This makes them a preferable target for the cyber attackers. A recent Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon says that the 95% of confirmed web app breaches were financially motivated. To protect the financial interest of an organization, it’s critical to protect their IT infrastructures, especially the servers that are exposed to the public networks.

The following are the areas to focus on in order to improve the server and network security.

  • Security Patches: It’s critical to keep the server’s OS updated with the latest security patches and OS updates. Most of the security patches are written to fix the security vulnerabilities in the system which can be used by the hackers to attack the system.
  • Access Keys: As passwords are less secure and easy to break, SSH Keys can be used to remotely access the servers instead of only using passwords to do so. The SSH Keys are the security keys that are provided to those users who possess authorization to access the servers. Whenever someone tries to access the server, it uses these Keys as an authentication mechanism. These keys are complex, tough to break and can be used along with the passwords as well.
  • Firewalls: A firewall is a hardware that monitors and controls the traffic in and out of a network based on predefined rules. They act as the first line of defence between the untrusted network, such as the internet and the controlled internal network of the organisation. In the current scenario, it’s critical to install a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) which is capable of arresting application layer and malware attacks.
  • VPNs: Accessing an organisation’s private data via an unprotected public network is a huge threat and might lead hackers to easily infiltrate the organisation’s network. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help solve this problem. They empower users to securely access a private network via a public network by implementing encryption protocols which make the data difficult to read for the infiltrator.
  • Indirect Access: Critical application servers and database servers should be isolated from the public network  and be restricted from accessing directly. Those systems must be given access only via a secure system with the multifactor authentication process.

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in handcrafting custom solutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We have maximized the revenues of industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank and National Stock Exchange of India by providing enhanced and sustained user engagement through Experience Engineering.

About The Author: Gokoulane Ravi is a foodie, technology enthusiast, and a developer turned marketer with more than 5 years of experience in the space of mobility. When he is not working, he likes to read, write, run and cycle.

7 Reasons To Build Your Web App On HTML5 + JS

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There are many mobile applications mushrooming in app stores, which testify the growing users of a mobile application. However, Web technologies are a fast growing domain which brings different nuances that amaze not just its users but also its developers. JavaScript is soon going to replace other popular non-JS frameworks. This is owing to the fact that JavaScript applications cater to every need to improve user experience, expedite development without compromising on the native app look and feel.

 Here are 7 reasons to reinforce the fact that Web applications built on HTML5 + JS are irreplaceable.

1. The WEB is a vast resource
Mobile developers face issues of memory management and minimalism and are forced to rely on web view for rendering data from different domains. Web Application makes it easier for developers to show more data that may please its end users and also cache the data offline for future visits.

2. Application Gamification
Gamification is a fast growing term in application building. In JS applications, it comes naturally, as it is strictly built on the guidelines to engage users and understand the patterns they follow and adapt to their needs adeptly. Ability to prompt suggestions, alerts – without distracting users also becomes an integral part of gamification in web applications.

3. Ease of Customization
User experience can be easily customized using HTML5 and JS. The HTML5 canvas helps improve user interaction, giving freedom to the user to decide what and how he wishes to see data. Access control is easily handled by the client himself. Application loads faster and smoother screen transitions make user-experience a delight. The data displayed is more in detail than can possibly be shown in a basic viewport.

4. Security and Performance
Although Web Applications are prone to all security invasions just like mobile applications, there are better measures available to curb and protect these attacks in web applications built using Javascript and HTML5. Data is protected by encryption techniques and data validations that conserve the integrity of the data presented in Web Application. App cache and local Storage available in HTML5 retain trivial data for faster application loads without exposing pertinent information to an attacker.

5. Choice for every need
Since the number of hybrid apps is on the high now, there are abundant choices based on the need of the application. The boundaries of different platforms fade in the case of hybrid applications. The changes and fixes are easier as web applications can be readily deployed and the application is up and running in no time. This also means we have frequent application updates; a user gets to enjoy new features without having to wait for updates from app stores.

6. User base
All popular applications like Flipkart, Facebook, Pinterest still have web applications, there are a lot of users who still find web applications either Desktops or online easier to work. Web applications have a huge user base, the simple reason being that more data is represented in a way that makes user easily able to compare, update or just use as info than in small screen device applications. Data is secure and furthermore, web applications are able to support more features.

7. Versatility
Frameworks like react.js for rendering code which is readable and maintainable but are also easily integrated with testing tools for maintaining code quality. Mean.js, Express.js, and Sails.js (node.js) provide freedom to code both server and client side scripting in single language i.e, JavaScript which again lessens development time and increases code maintainability. Electron.js for building desktop apps (MacOsX, Linux, Windows), ionic.js (Android, iOS)for platform independent mobile apps the scope is massive. It does not just stop at this, the end result is an application that supports high traffic and is a highly scalable application that grows with your business.

Web Applications have a better customer reach as they do not rely on platforms, Operating systems and easier to share your ideas with your audience. So if you are planning to build an application that focuses on achieving futuristic features, fast growing user base, amazing user experience and minimum development time, look no further your answer is HTML5 + JS!

About Market Simplified: Market Simplified is a thought leader in handcrafting custom solutions by continuously innovating and simplifying finance. We have maximized the revenues of industry leaders like OptionsXpress (Charles Schwab), Currenex (State Street), MB Trading, Maybank Kim Eng, Kotak Mahindra Bank and National Stock Exchange of India by providing enhanced and sustained user engagement through Experience Engineering.

About The Author:  Anjali Menon is a fullstack developer, Software Engineer @ MSIL, an avid technology watcher, and a grammar nazi. She enjoys learning and finds pleasure in simple things in life.

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