A couple of months ago we started to leverage Axure on our Fiori, UX and design thinking projects. I first came across Axure while working with one of our clients. In this case, we wanted to simplify the Business Intelligence (BI) reporting framework for their executives and sales teams. The customer had a heterogeneous landscape with more than 10 BI products including HANA, Lumira, Webi, Qlikview, and more. They wanted a single, simplified and tool-agnostic approach to accommodate different personality types, learning styles and flexibility of choice for users. We used design thinking techniques to work with their executives (CFO, CIO, sales VP etc.) as well as a line of business managers to create a common framework for BI reporting.
At the end of the storyboarding phase of design thinking, we needed to perform hypotheses testing using sample reports and use cases. We were working with very complex scenarios and the customer was not fully sold on Fiori UX. We needed to get feedback from extended teams (users of whom were not physically present during the design thinking workshops). Because these were senior executives, we needed a tool for fast prototyping with tangible, responsive, high quality, detailed outputs. Axure allowed us to co-create 37 responsive prototypes in less than 2 hours. It took us less than 30 minutes to onboard the users. The product was fluid and easy to use. One of the most influential decision makers of this BI initiative, the SVP of Sales, thanked us for giving him something he could “touch and feel ” and for keeping him “engaged” during the feedback sessions. We got his acceptance on the spot and the project budget was approved. Since then, we have incorporated Axure in our projects in many different ways.
Based on my personal experience with the product, here are 6 ingenious ways to utilize Axure in your Fiori projects.
- Co-Create Solution Concepts: One of the important techniques of design thinking is the co-creation process, which results in higher user adoption. Co-creation is the most effortless and painless way to create several solution possibilities. In the past, we did this using hand sketched wireframes, surveys and PowerPoint presentations. While this approach worked well for participants who were physically present in the design thinking session, it didn’t work for remote users. We could not engage them in these conceptual prototypes. Axure solves this problem. With one simple step you can import the latest Fiori design stencils, such as icons and controls, into Axure and create click-through prototypes using drag and drop templates. The platform is stable and well documented. If you are capable of making a PowerPoint presentation, you can use Axure to create Fiori prototypes. The prototype link can be used as a click-through demo that can be edited during co-creation process.
- Intelligent & Super Fast Prototyping: If you are starting off your UX/Fiori initiative, chances are that you are targeting high value use-cases that give you buy-in from executive leadership. As a business analyst or a project manager, you can’t expect the executives to log in to a platform or to review a document. And, you can’t show them handmade prototypes because these users don’t take them seriously. With Axure, you can swiftly create beautiful Fiori prototypes very fast. Entire pages can be dragged and dropped to create responsive and professionally detailed designs. Axure prototypes cannot be imported into SAP WebIDE tool, but this is not its purpose. Axure is fit for early stage Fiori prototyping, particularly when you don’t have developers working on the project yet and you are dealing with highly complex custom Fiori UX scenarios.
- Design Document and Dataflow: Remember the old days, when we used to create functional specs and technical specs? These specs are quite important for us to understand the data flow, process flow, data sources and IT feasibility. This information is needed during the early stages of a UX initiative because it allows us to prioritize “high value/low effort” apps. Using one simple click, Axure provides the functionality to generate a design document and data flow diagrams directly from the app prototype, thus making it easier for functional/technical teams to understand the IT feasibility of the solution before moving any further with the design. This functionality is especially needed for analytical UX initiatives as well as cross-platform apps where we deal with multiple back-ends and for when we require understanding of how we need to drill-down into various levels of information. The design document and data flow clarifies the feasibility of the app concept and gives us the confidence to move forward.
- Build a Business Case: If you are just starting off your UX journey, you most likely don’t have a developer or designer on-boarded yet. At this stage, you don’t have UX initiatives finances either. Axure allows you to create presentable app mockups without learning development skills. You can effortlessly create alluring prototypes that can be touched and felt to support your business case.
- Conduct Hypothesis Testing: Hypothesis testing is one of the design thinking techniques that allows us to test our learning launches with real life examples/test cases. Using the divergent and convergent approach of design thinking, we can undergo multiple spins of hypothesis tests to surface vital key assumptions and to narrow down the most valuable concepts. Axure, being on the market for 12 years, has much better usability compared to some of the other design tools that we have used. The ease of use of the software combined with the completeness of the Fiori stencils/controls makes the hypothesis testing process fluid.
- Create App Roadmap: Many customers start their mobile journey with 1 app. Once they are successful with their first app, they focus on creating the roadmap for the next set of apps. Axure makes it possible to document your future app visualizations clearly with concrete samples so that users can align their various ideas and prioritize the use cases for the mobile roadmap.
What is your experience with Axure? How did you incorporate it into your Fiori projects? Share your feedback and comments.
About the author: Sana Salam, Sodales Solutions
Sana Salam is the president and founder of Sodales Solutions – an award winning SAP certified partner specialized in Enterprise Mobility, User Experience and Big Data solutions. Before starting Sodales, Sana worked as a turnaround project manager where she revived derailed IT projects that suffered from complexity. Sana’s inspiration behind Sodales was to help enterprises simplify their business by humanizing the meaning of technology. Her firm uses SAP’s innovative technologies and user experience methods to solve business complexities with design thinking framework. As a winner of the SAP Mobile Apps Challenge for Microsoft Windows 8 , the winner of SAP Google Apps challenge and the first SAP partner to certify a Fiori app, Sana has a unique perspective to offer to companies who are looking to simplify their business.