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Tools tools and more tools

Lately we have tried different tools at Habanero during our design process because we're always on the lookout for ways to improve how we do things. We looked at some usability testing, video capture, and design deliverable applications, among others. I thought it was about time to share some of the tools we have tried or want to try — and of course, your suggestions are welcome too! 


I tried ConceptShare to keep a change history of wireframe changes. I didn't actually share the link with a client on the project, since we had feedback tracked in review meetings, but I did enter the feedback into this application and output the summary into a tracking document. This allows you to keep the history of changes as snapshots for your own reference (very handy when you have to revisit options!)

What I like about this tool:

  • You can use any tool to develop the wireframe, both online and offline. I use Fireworks, outputted wireframes as PNGs, and then easily uploaded all the images to ConceptShare
  • I figured it out in less than 5 minutes
  • The UI is very simple and clean without distracting branding (very CS4-like actually)
  • You can present the wireframes within this tool and chat with others who are remote
  • Reasonable pricing ($49 per month for a small team)
  • Built in Canada :) 


I saw Protonotes referenced on the Adaptive Path blog, and had to check out because I've spent many hours in rooms with sticky notes everywhere. This tool is a neat concept for reviewing web prototypes — anyone can post a comment somewhere on the page, using of course, a sticky. We tend to get email feedback from different stakeholders, so this application would help to aggregate the comments. It's also possible to output all the comments into Excel and keep track of what's completed in the application.

One downside of this is that all the wireframes / mockups have to be output in a web format that can incorporate the JavaScript for the stickies. Usually we share our deliverables in PDF or image format because that's the easiest way for clients to review the content. However, if we could just as easily output to HTML from Visio / Fireworks / Photoshop and share it somewhere, this could be a neat option.

Silverback (Mac OS only)

We used Silverback recently for website usability testing as it is very simple to setup and get going right away. It doesn't have as many bells and whistles that an application like Morae has (which we also use), but it's got the key concepts to capture on-screen mockups, record audio / video and setup markers in the recordings. It's very reasonably priced and a snap to setup.

One downside we found was that the recordings take a while to export into a video format to use after the testing. Other than that, it's a great quick option to use!


Mallory tried out Jing the other day to explain how to accomplish a task within one of our internal applications. It's a really nice way to create a "how-to" video by capturing screens from your desktop and recording audio. It's easy to share the video using the free online storage, or create a swf file for email / IM. The access to the application is different too — it's a glowing orb that sits discreetly on the edge of your desktop. This application could be useful for training, sharing how an interaction could work, etc. There are many uses for this one!

That's all for now — please let us know if you have also tried these applications, or have tried others. We would love to hear from you!