To train, or not to train? 5 things I learned by attending formal Axure training

I’m someone who has been using Axure for about 3 years prior to attending formal training, learning from web resources, forums and by analysing widget libraries made by others. I had my worries about whether I should attend all three courses or not, considering I wasn’t a beginner. Here’s a random list of things I learned.

1. The importance of developing naming conventions when naming your widgets.
Seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen many people, especially self-taught ones fall into the trap of getting sloppy with naming their widgets only to have to work twice as much later on when trying to find them. For instance, you have a main navigation item which you name “Shirts”. Once the whole page is built and you have a Shirts navigation point with a Shirts sub-menu and Shirts filter, you won’t have any way of knowing which particular “Shirts” that item is on your list of widgets to interact with.

2. The time-saver background setting on masters.
I’d been using masters for a long time, but never really worried about the ‘Place in background’ option until the training. It turned out to be a massive time-saver, allowing me to casually drag & drop my masters and have them snap to the right place on the page.

3. Global guidelines.
Yes, I use the grid and most often than not, I don’t need any sort of guidelines on my page. But still, once in a while, there’s that situation where a global guideline could save you a half hour’s worth of aligning and grid-dot-counting.

4. The true power of variables.
I’d been experimenting in variable-land before, but it all seemed way too technical and I ended up building my prototypes without them. After the training I understood how and when to use them effectively. They’re a true game-changer, making high-fidelity prototype building faster and more realistic.

5. Efficient use of dynamic panels
Dynamic panels were on my list of favorite Axure features long before I attended the training. I loved using them and I made sure to get them in whenever possible. The one slight problem I was having was that my prototypes kept growing larger and more-and-more sluggish as the project developed. After the training I learned to optimise my panels to achieve the same effect with much smaller filesize and better responsiveness.

Of course, there’s more. A lot more that hopefully you too will find out about if you attend these trainings and miss out on if you won’t. Even if all the above was old news to you. Even if you’ve dissected all available widget libraries and think you’ve seen it all.

Ildiko Balla

Usability Analyst & Interaction Designer (IxD / UX) @ REEA
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