An Axure widget library for user interactions

UX Map is a widget library to document user journeys and human-computer interactions using a simple visual language. It also allows to add interactive annotations to your Axure prototype.

After spending years improving at prototype creation with Axure RP and experimenting with the most favorable techniques for efficiently gathering design specifications together, I have summed up my experience together into a widget library to ease the workload of designers.

UX Map is the quickest and easiest way to add contextual annotations to any prototype created in Axure RP. It also represents user journeys and interactions in great detail, using a simple visual language.

The principles on which UX Map is built:

  • Documentation should be contextual. No more separate functional specs documents that are difficult to find and never up to date.
  • Documentation should be interconnected. The Axure prototype becomes a central place for all UX documentation, and it’s possible to jump back and forth from the wireframe view to the UX Map view, and viceversa.
  • Simple language convention but sophisticated enough to represent any complex interactions, and much more accurate than conventional sitemaps and user journeys.
  • Customizable widgets based on vector shapes with styles applied to them, so you can make global changes to the presentation layer in no time.
  • Possibility to add outgoing links to external project management tools. Both the prototype and the UX Map can be used as an easy way to retrieve stories/rationales.
  • Axure at full speed. UX Map is built using the best UI patterns that can be created in Axure to provide a seamless, engaging experience.

Interactive annotations

Annotations appear on mouse over. They can be toggled on and off globally across the prototype, and can relate to the page as a whole, a portion of the page, or a specific widget. Adding the annotations is very straightforward and requires only a few simple steps.

UX diagrams

The core of UX Map is the interactive map that allows to navigate through diagrams depicting user journeys, interactions, and anything going on at an interface level. It’s a visual language to represent human-computer interactions in great detail.

The idea

When designing with an advanced prototyping tool such as Axure RP, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that the more advanced the prototype, the better it is. This is certainly true for usability testing purposes, but not necessarily for UX documentation. What makes UX documentation accurate is the amount of information associated to the prototype. This allows some common negative scenarios to be avoided, such as the following:

  • There’s a certain degree of ambiguity about the details of an interactive prototype. When the product manager and dev team have no idea what the right implementation should be, the work has to stop in order to get the validation of the designer. Or worse, features can get implemented based on assumptions rather than sound decisions.
  • Requirements change, but the complexity of the prototype makes it difficult to keep pace. It would be much easier to just update annotations and UX diagrams instead.
  • The designer has an idea of how things should work beyond what’s on the prototype, but the list of functional specifications gets split from the design documentation, and no one knows which is the most up to date.
  • Project management tools to track progress (backlogs, bug tracking, etc.) exist on their own as a dry list of functional requirements, and it’s hard to find specific topics when needed.

There’s a certain degree of ambiguity about the details of an interactive prototype. When the product manager and dev team have no idea what the right implementation should be, the work has to stop in order to get the validation of the designer. Or worse, features can get implemented based on assumptions rather than sound decisions.

Requirements change, but the complexity of the prototype makes it difficult to keep pace. It would be much easier to just update annotations and UX diagrams instead.

The designer has an idea of how things should work beyond what’s on the prototype, but the list of functional specifications gets split from the design documentation, and no one knows which is the most up to date.

Project management tools to track progress (backlogs, bug tracking, etc.) exist on their own as a dry list of functional requirements, and it’s hard to find specific topics when needed.

UX Map is the way to take full advantage of Axure RP. It helps the designer spend the right amount of time building a product demo functional to the project goals, without obsessing over every single front-end interaction. As more UI patterns become available in Axure, more complexity is achievable in a reasonable amount of time. UX Map gives the ability to add detailed design requirements in the form of annotations and diagrams, thus filling the communication gap between the designer and other team members.

Product details

The package consists of a widget library, a demo project and an empty template. Video tutorials are available at www.ux-map.com. The library and project files have been created in Axure 7, but are also compatible with Axure 8. Work is under way to make a free update available once Axure 8 is released as a stable built. That will also include annotations specific for mobile.

Free license for students

Students can require a free license to test the product without having to pay anything.


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