ProtoShare is a Web-based tool that allows users to design and customize interactive website, app, and mobile prototypes and wireframes. It features a drag-and-drop interface, customizable components, and collaborative tools.
Monthly plans range from $29 per month per editor (includes 1GB of storage space) to $59 per month per editor (includes 5GB storage). All plans come with a free 30-day trial. Discounts are available with annual pricing plans and business plans with five or more editors.
Marc Van Norden, VP of product management and engineering at Fox Broadcasting, has been using ProtoShare for about seven months.
How do you use it?
We use the online version to essentially see prototypes of our sites. It’s great because, unlike Visio or OmniGraffle, it’s Web-based. Once we log on to our own individual ProtoShare account, we can start mocking up a page. Everyone on our team has access and is working on a variety of projects.
It’s not just about prototyping websites as we have the ability to define the CMS user interface and workflow, which has been great for our team.
It has built-in palettes and objects you can place on your page. We can also build in dynamic content with our development teams so we extend beyond that as necessary.
ProtoShare has an email system that works well if you have a problem. Response has always been quick, but it’s pretty straightforward to use, and we have not had many problems.
One of our team members has a lot of experience using it and a strong relationship with the ProtoShare team, so we also rely on him if we need help.
How does it serve your business needs?
The majority of Fox employees work on the television and broadcast side of the business. Our digital team is relatively small compared to the rest of the network operations. We use ProtoShare to build everything from a basic page to an entire site.
Our ability to spec things out, really see what they look like, and get buy-in and sign-off from multiple stakeholders before we get into the full development phase has been invaluable. It equates to cost savings because defining requirement is one thing, but showing a certain level of fidelity in how it’s going to look and function reduces change orders and time. Most of our deadlines are hard and tied to on-air so change is usually costly.
We work with a custom application via the website, and there’s a custom CMS running behind that. Being able to map out what the user experience is going to be is important. It’s not just about page layout, it’s also about workflow and optimizing it, and ProtoShare does that.
We’re going through a website redesign right now, and an undertaking of this size required buy-in from a lot of stakeholders. We basically took direction from one executive, who wanted to simplify the entire site. As we mocked that up and were able to work through it with that executive, other executives started to give input about potential challenges with the design, including ad placements and marketing and promotional elements for the larger network beyond just the shows.
ProtoShare allowed us to prove that as much as we were driving in the direction to simplify, there were business needs that required us to be a bit more robust.
Ultimately, it allowed us to develop a tangible prototype that resonated with, and worked for internal stakeholders before we fully developed the new site.
How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from an IT standpoint?
It’s Web-based. We’re getting to the point where data management is more important as we’re looking to syndicate our content (XML-based video, photos, and more) and working across multiple platforms (Xbox, Roku, and more). This year, we will start to explore how ProtoShare could map out our larger data needs beyond just the web user interface aspect that we’ve been using.
What are the main benefits?
It’s cost effective and platform agnostic.
There is no need to be a UX person to share our user interface mock up and to work on the components. Everyone can at least log on to view the work and apply notes.
It’s hard to quantify the savings considering we manage our own development as well, but it gives everyone a much higher level of confidence as we’re moving forward, and that equates to cost savings in pure man hours.
What are the main drawbacks?
There is somewhat of a learning curve, but it’s like that with any prototyping tool, and the learning curve for ProtoShare is not that steep.
There are not really many drawbacks beyond that. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
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