By Guest Blogger Nancy Stumvoll
When Allovus began working with Synergy Sports Technology, we quickly realized that we needed a more robust prototyping tool to help with the development of their data rich applications.
We began our partnership with Synergy in 2014. Their sophisticated data visualization apps allow NBA and NCAA coaches to easily access powerful, real-time video analytics tools and access deeper data to help inform their coaching. Synergy’s apps provide a way for users to easily compile, name, organize, and view real-time video content according to their specific coaching needs.
To assist with the work, we began researching available prototyping options like Balsamiq, Axure, and InDesign. At that time, Sketch was not widely used and InDesign was just entering the prototyping arena. We narrowed our choices down to Balsamiq or Axure. While Balsamiq is a great prototyping tool for its sketch-style wireframes which help focus the conversation on content and interaction, we decided on Axure due to its more robust prototyping capabilities.
In addition, Axure is an industry standard which has been around for a long time. It’s cross-platform, is well supported, and has a free 30-day trial. The enthusiastic “Axureland” community also is a big plus. This is where users can find support, custom-made widgets, and tutorials to help expand their Axure skills.
After we began using Axure for the Synergy UX work, we realized that it might be a great UI design tool for Synergy too. Up to this point, we had been designing their apps in Photoshop, but file size was huge and had many complex layers. So we embarked on an experiment using Axure as the design tool.
Now that we’ve been working with Axure for about a year, we can safely say this approach has been highly successful for this complex data visualization app. It allows us to smoothly transition from UX exploration into UI design, often in the same file. Axure provides a way for us to set up global masters, widget libraries, and dynamic panels to ensure visual consistency and to help demonstrate functionality to the client and Synergy’s developers. When creating redlines, we simply export pages as JPGs with one click and import them into InDesign to add redline specs.
Axure is a great prototyping tool that can be a good design tool for the right situation. If a UI was more illustrative, we wouldn’t recommend Axure for the design. But for data rich applications such as Synergy, Axure is a great UX AND UI design tool that can save hours of time. It allows for a more iterative process, and lets team members easily share and communicate their vision.