One of the big problems I always run into when designing apps is the flow between pages. I design the pages and then put them together. When I then put them together, I always find a couple places where the application flow just doesn’t work. What I need, among many, many other things, is a quick way to design the application flow and make sure it works correctly before I start putting a lot of work into the application. This is why I’ve developed an interest in application prototyping software.
I’ve used various application prototyping tools to do this. One that I did like was iRise. It allows you to quickly create pages with a WYSIWYG editor. In addition, you can have a spreadsheet of data connected to the page via some simple logic. In addition, there is a clipboard to store data between pages. The biggest problems I’ve found with iRise (besides the price) is that even though it is a simplified view of the application, it still takes a few hours to a few days to create the pages and hook them together. Also, while the logic is fairly simple, it can be chained together to create some fairly detailed logic calculations. While this is nice at times, it can lead to spending more time creating some detailed logic than the situation really calls for.
What is needed at some times, such as when first discussing the project with a customer or business partner is a way to quickly throw some pages together and get buy in without spending a lot of time creating the pages and logic. This is POP (Prototyping on Paper). It’s an app (iOS currently) that takes pictures (either with the camera or from the photo library) and lets you take an area and make it a clickable button and link to another page. So you can quickly draw up basic screens on paper (or Paper or whiteboards) and then link them together for a quick and dirty application flow. It’s not useful if you’re looking for a complete list of fields on a form or are interested in the colors/fonts/layout. But as a first, initial step, this is a wonderful tool.
I’d be interested in seeing what other tools people have used for application prototyping. Are there some other tools out there that I should be looking at?