How to Make the Best of Axure

4 min read • Martín Etchegoyen

Axure is kind of a Swiss army knife design tool. It is a fast way to make highly interactive prototypes that are viewable on the web, both on desktop and on tablet and mobile devices. You can also use it to create user flows and site maps, and have it export detailed functional specifications.

It is a great way to create a visual, interactive presentation of your design ideas to communicate them to your client, boss, or to a development team. Plus, Axure can be used a lot for usability testing of concepts before you decide to invest in building them.

Axure

With Axure, you can make really quick and dirty prototypes and get them off for review in an hour or less. And you can also create really high-fidelity, functional prototypes that are used for exec review and user testing, among other functions.

8 Tips for Being Elite at Axure

In this section, we will provide some tips about how to make the best out of Axure, so you can exploit the app to your advantage.

UX Design Tools

1. If you can use a master, use a master.

Masters are great and should be used wherever possible. It means no more having to update every individual page or panel. You merely change the master and Axure magically changes all the pages containing that master. Raised events can be used to deal with interactions between masters and pages, just remember to use sensible event names, such as the On Cancel Button.

2. Do not get too carried away

Axure is a quite powerful prototyping tool. You can create vast pixel-perfect prototypes, with lots of interactions, advanced logic, dummy data, and even now responsive pages. Yet, just because you can, does not mean you should. It is all too tempting to go to town when creating a prototype. As ultimately an Axure prototype is by its very nature a throwaway prototype you should really be prototyping the bare minimum that you need.

That could be the bare minimum for usability testing, for demoing to business bigwigs, or simply for communicating the design to developers. Do not get too carried away because Neil’s patented law of diminishing Axure returns stipulates that the more time you spend on the prototype, the less return you get on that time.

3. Use disabled states for tabs

When creating a set of tabs or pills, the tempting thing to do is to create dynamic panels containing each of the different tabs. Unfortunately, this means that if you need to change a tab, or perhaps add a new tab you need to change every dynamic panel. A better way to do this is to instead have one set of tabs and use the dynamic panels for the tab content only. You can then use the disabled interaction style for the tabs to indicate the current tab. On clicking a tab you disable it, enable the other tabs, and change the dynamic panel to this tab’s content. Also, do not forget to disable the default tab so that it is initially shown as selected. Changes to tabs are now much easier to make.

4. Use pages over dynamic panels

Dynamic panels are brilliant but it can be all too easy to find that you have suddenly built an entire prototype from one page and hundreds of different dynamic panel states. It is generally best to keep dynamic states to a minimum and to use pages where possible, rather than dynamic panels. Pages are easier to link to and appear in the prototype sitemap, and with dynamic panels, you often have to carry out complex page load interactions to preload a particular dynamic panel.

5. Use styles for text and buttons

The Axure style editor is a truly useful feature because it allows you to change the default style for widgets, such as text, buttons, and tabs.  More importantly, it allows you to set up and assign custom styles. This makes a lot of sense because if, for instance, you want to increase the text size in your prototype, you can easily change the relevant style rather than having to individually change each text widget. Axure even lets you copy the formatting from an existing widget so it is now even easier to set up custom styles.

6. Create your own custom widget libraries

Not only is it a good idea to use other people’s Axure widget libraries, but it is also a really good idea to create your own custom widget libraries. If you have an established style guide and set of design patterns for a particular site or app it can be useful to create a custom widget library for that site or app.

7. Use good widget naming practice

The fastest way to find a widget in Axure is by using the search box, instead of trying to browse the various panels and widgets. It is therefore important to give any widget that you are going to be playing around with a name and to use good naming practice. For instance, ‘ButtonStartTimer’ might be the name for a button with the label Start Timer. This means that you can quickly and effortlessly find the right widget.

8. Use variables to fake data

Axure has introduced repeaters and data sets for faking lots of data within a prototype. It is rather rare that you would need to get that advanced, you would probably be taking things too far, but when you do need to fake a bit of data, such as pulling through product details from a dummy set of search results it is probably better to use variables to do this instead of manually setting the values for widgets. Using variables means that you can use pages and masters as templates and generally keeps things cleaner and more manageable.

Final Thoughts

If you implement these practices in Axure, you will make it one of the best design tools that you will ever use. It is just a matter of you applying the concepts of this blog and being consistent with them.

Let’s build something awesome together!

Try us risk free for 7 days, if you don’t love us, get your money back.

Get Started