Coming Up On In 2011

To say that I have been busy in the latter half of 2010 would be an understatement… my lack of posting here or on my company blog is a testament to it. But I’ve been learning a lot and plan to share my best finds as usual. So, here are a few things that are coming up here soon…

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Rapid Prototyping Tools and Principles

Dan Harrelson from Adaptive Path has written a very interesting blog post titled Rapid Prototyping Tools and what makes good prototypes. My long time favorite Adobe Fireworks is mentionned along with Axure RP Pro (which is a newer tool in my arsenal) but also several others including online tools like Balsamiq Mockups.

What is most interesting to me in the post is the first part before he lists the tools and where he explains the principles of good prototyping and why it should be done in the first place. For me, this comes following a very well received presentaion at the IA Summint 2009 from Fred Beecher titled Integrating Effective Prototyping Into Your Design Process and which I followed through live tweeting as I couldn’t attend.

Both Harrelson and Beecher press the important point that creating interactive prototypes helps us design better user experiences as they help validate a design direction early in the process before investing a lot of money and effort into design or development solutions that may not yield the best results possible.

I strongly suggest you take a look at Dan Harrelson’s blog post and go through Fred’s presentation slides. They may put you on a track to improve your own process and deliver better solutions to your clients.

MindJet Releases MindManager 8

Today, MindJet has released two new products: MindManager 8 for Windows and MindManager Web.

What's new in MindManager 8

I’ve blogged about MindManager before as it is one of the main tools in my creative arsenal. If you haven’t tried MindManager before or have been curious about it, now is the best time to try it and dive into mind mapping. Here’s a few of the main new features in the new version.

What’s New in MindManager 8

Maps sharing: One of the main limitations of using MindManager before was that it was diffiult to share those maps with people who did not have it. Exporting to Word and other formats could only go so far and, for me at least, my MindManager maps did not create good client deliverables even if they were very useful to me internally.

With MindManager 8, we can now export maps directly to PDF with embedded interactive maps (a Flash movie from the map is embedded in the PDF). This is huge for me. We now can share our maps in a self contained and secure file format and email them to anyone or make them easily downloadable from any Web site. Secondly, MindManager 8  also export directly to Flash itself so we can add interactive maps to our Web sites. You can check out how that feels by looking at the map on the MindManager 8 product page on MindJet’s Web site.

Integrated Microsoft Office File Editing & Embedded Web Browser: MindManager 8 can now display Web pages or edit MS Office documents right from within MindManager’s interface. For me this is a very welcome addition as I often want to add links to Web pages to map topics. Now I don’t have to copy paste as there’s an “Add to Map” button right in the embedded browser.

Integrated Content & services: It is now possible to add search topics, RSS feeds or connections to databases directly in maps by using what MindJet calls “Map Parts” that connect to search engines and other services or data stores. That way, topics in map can be kept fresh and relevant with updated data instead of being static.

Web services Map Parts included in MindManager 8 include Google, Yahoo and Windows Live (Search); MySpace and Facebook (social networking) and Amazon, eBay and StrikeIron D&B (eCommerce). Database linkers include Access, MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, IBM DB2, Excel and text files.

These are just a few of the new features included in MindManager 8. I will post again on why you would want to use an application like MindManager but, in the meantime, you can read my previous posts on mind mapping from last year when I started using MindManager 7: