What makes a good prototyping tool?

1 Jul 2004 - 3:45pm
1199 reads
Dave Malouf

So I'm reading Henrik's article on GoLive for prototyping.

While he is exhorting GoLive he starts by saying that Visio is better.
He begins with some loose qualifications about what might be a good
prototyping tool by doing a comparison of GoLive to Visio:

I still consider <http://www.guuui.com/issues/02_03_02.php> Visio the
interactions designer's nail gun. It's a powerful tool, which makes it easy
to build interactive prototypes in a rush. But compared to real web pages,
prototypes build with Visio and other non-HTML tools have a few limitations:

* It isn't possible to interact with dynamic controls such as
drop-down lists in forms.
* It isn't possible to enter data into text entry fields.
* It's a bit cumbersome to simulate scrolling pages.

In a usability test, this might lead to problems:

* If you have to ask the users to imagine things, such as typing text
into a text entry field, it can interfere with the natural flow of the
usability test.
* It can prevent you from testing important aspects of a design, such
as the wordings of options in drop-down lists.
* In worst cases it can lead to false assumptions about usability
problems, for example if the users seem reluctant to scroll a page, and the
true reason is that the prototype doesn't clearly communicate that the page
is scrollable.

While these limitation can be solved with a bit of creativity, it's
sometimes more convenient to build the prototype in HTML.

So my question to everyone is ... What does make a good prototyping tool for
IxD, for UX?
I'd like to keep this not about specific tools as this only leads to
platform debates, but rather, what is it that you like about your tools? or
what is it that is missing from them? So, please try not to mention tool

-- dave

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