Startup

Resumesimo: The Golden Resume

Right now, all over the world, people are trying to find jobs. The economy that used to be thirsty for new employees has fallen on its side and has been slow to get back up. Whereas just a few years ago people were marching on red carpets announcing their IPOs and huge salaries, now sullen eyes look out upon a bleak economic landscape. Employers are stressed, and picky. Job seekers are feeling rejected and ignored. At times it seems like it’s never going to get better.

We all know that the economy runs in cycles. Whatever comes up must come down. In a mark of human indolence, when it goes up people assume and act as if it’s always going to be that way. They in turn buy houses, cars, risky stocks, and many other luxurious expenses while they bathe in the intoxication of prosperity. The warm waters of yesterday have been replaced with the cold showers of reality. People have lost their cars, houses, portfolios, along with the jobs that made them possible. I’ll admit to getting swung into a few brain dead investments of my own. Wouldn’t want to miss all the fun, right?

Resumesimo Home

The economic turmoil has left people in two distinct groups. The first are the gainfully employed. The second are those that have been locked out of the global workforce. Many of those who found themselves out of work have taken increasingly extreme measures to adapt. Some have gone back to school. Others have started a business. Still others have taken it as an opportunity to fulfill their lifelong goal of sitting on the couch drinking beer all day. It’s been a trying time for all. For those who dare approach the somewhat foreboding job market they’ve found they need to be better prepared. Whereas before emailing a potential employer a plain old resume would have garnered some interest, now people need to find new ways to stand out. There are video resumes, online portfolios, and any number of tools to set your self apart from the crowd. At the end of the day though, the standard resume with summary of prior work experience is the central document of any job search. The question becomes how can someone get the most out of it? The answer- Resumesimo.

Resumesimo is an online resume tool that helps you prepare the best possible resume for your job search. It boasts a 10 minute completion time and has many attractive templates to house your life’s professional accomplishments. With it people can turn their resumes into attractive eye catching documents which are bound to gain attention.

The way it works is first you select your template. They have many different styles and layouts so you can find one to match your personality. Once selected you can follow the wizard to enter your basic resume information. This includes your personal information, work experience, education, awards, skills, and uploading a photo. Some templates offer the option to display your pic, others only contain text. The template and info can be changed at any time. Once all the information is entered your resume is automatically generated and is ready to be shared. It can be downloaded in PDF form and they also provide an online business card. The basic resume includes the template but you can download an old school black and white version as well.

Resumesimo Examples

Creating one’s resume in ten minutes sounds attractive. It spares you the effort of working with Word and formatting it correctly. Many people already have their resume online though. Oftentimes they add this information to Facebook or LinkedIn. Resumesimo is integrated with both of those so you can readily import it. From there you can make final adjustments and be done.

Finding a job is hard these days. Resumesimo knows this and provides the tools to help candidates put their best foot forward. With their easy to use service people can quickly create attractive resumes to help in their job search. As an added bonus they also include an e-book on interviewing tips, salary negotiation, and many other employment related topics. The entire package is ideal for new and old job seekers alike. With it people can know they are doing all they can to impress and gain attention from employers.

Startup

Thankuz: Thank You Notes For the Rest of Us

It wasn’t so long ago that we chanced upon a service that would send hand written notes directly to people. These archetypes of yesteryear can have a profound effect on relationships helping people connect to others over many miles. Our first foray into the thank you note world wrought us a writer and artist whose works include additions to the Vatican. They stand head and shoulders above any note writing service we’re aware of. Our second venture into this oasis of gratitude comes with a more modern flavor, with Thankuz.

Thankuz is an online note writing service. It bears the same handwritten prose of renowned artists, only with digitally perfect handwritten fonts. It makes it so people with handwriting even as bad as my own can prepare and send notes to those they appreciate. It’s a handwriting note service for the rest of us. And, as it requires no work on the part of human writers on the other end, it’s free.

Thankuz Home

All notes are created based upon templates where the font and background are set, and the content can be personalized as you would like. To make things easy for you it comes in a Mad Libs type format. That is, the basic sentence structure of the note is provided and you can fill in the blanks. Users have full control and can delete or add anything they choose though. The net result is your thank you note can be prepared and ready to go in a matter of minutes. It’s more personal than sending an email and easier than writing a written note and mailing it.

There are a couple other formatting options including selecting a note type. This is a classification where you indicate whether this is a note for a person, organization, friend, family, or celebrity, or for a birthday, or anniversary. There are a variety of settings to clarify the occasion of the note. The other more interesting option is the ability to attach a photo. This sets behind the note as if it were set on a desk or table. The user can click it to see the thoughtful photo you included. The sending options include sending a direct link by email, Facebook, or Twitter. All notes are given a specific page which comes with a comment section to carry on a dialogue.

Sample Thank You Note

As a service Thankuz offers a great note writing tool. As a website they do a number of things well which deserve recognition. First is that you don’t need to register to create notes. They realize that users don’t necessarily want to be their best friend just to send a note. As such anybody can create one. The only caveat is that the user is then responsible to keep track of the note’s profile page. By registering all your notes will be saved. The other thing we like about Thankuz is that it’s a simple service, but done well. The glide-i-ness of the photos coming to the foreground and background is the mark of someone who’s done this before. It’s great to see a simple service built with a bit of pizzazz.

Thankuz brings online thank you note giving to the masses. Not everybody can afford a custom handwritten note service. Everybody has the ability to create simple online notes for free though. For this Thankuz is the tool of choice with its full offering of themes and fonts, and easy to use service.

Startup

Whimventory: The Universal Wishlist System

Wishlists are fun to make. As kids we all keep an ongoing list in our heads of things we want. These range from bikes to toys to educational materials. Well, most kids don’t look forward to books or the new sets of clothes that come with them. Wishlists have always been for the fun gifts. As people get older the content of their lists change. Many of us do include books on our lists, clothes, along with concert tickets, vacations, and numerous other items. One thing’s never going to change though- people will always want more stuff.

Online retailers have already capitalized on this. The most prevalent of these is Amazon which has an elaborate wishlist system. As Amazon has grown to become the central hub of buying just about anything online it has allowed its users to prepare lists of wanted items. Another major area for wishlists are for upcoming weddings. Many companies have designed systems to select gifts for people to purchase which will in turn be delivered for them. It takes all the pain (and some of the thought) out of giving gifts.

Whimventory Home

With so many online stores there’s really no central way to keep track of all one’s desired gifts. That is, until Whimventory was launched. It’s a wishlist tool that works across all online stores so that anyone can keep track of everything they’d like to purchase.

The way Whimventory works is you need to add a special link to your bookmark’s toolbar. This then acts as a button anytime you’re on the profile page of an item you’d like to purchase. You simply press the button, the relevant information is added, and it’s now added to your list. It makes it simple, easy, and fun to create your wishlists. The data that’s tracked is the name of the item, the price, and a thumbnail picture. When adding items people can adjust these values in case they aren’t extracted from the website accurately.

By integrating the wishlist system within the browser it makes it universal across any and all websites for any item online. Typically users will add items from online stores such as Amazon or Buy.com. They could also add them for concert tickets, vacation destinations, or anything else they find interesting. Wishlists can be made for general use, weddings, upcoming birthdays, or any other event. Once the lists are created you can share them with friends through social networks or by sending it to friends directly. A sample wishlist can be seen below.

Whimventory Sample Wishlist

Items in lists can be favorited, marked as purchased, or removed. You also have the ability to send gifts anonymously or recommend items to other people. Of particular interest is a helpful feature that allows you to compare prices for the item online. It brings up a Google Search page that searches on the item’s name on Google’s shopping section. This is a great way to find out if you’re getting the best price available.

Wishlists are an integral part of our society. Everybody wants new things. It could be an iPhone, a new computer, a book, clothes, or a trip to Maui. I’ll take the trip to Maui, if anyone’s taking notes here. For everyone else they can create their own lists with Whimventory. It’s the easiest way to let everyone know what you’d like.

Startup

DailyDigital: Online Digital Content Storefronts

As the resident computer guy I’m often asked to help people with their generic computer questions. Often enough they request that I help them with their ‘small project.’ Small project is almost invariably a ton of work that they don’t want to pay a lot of money for. After all, this is a small project, right? In a recent email I received these words, verbatim: “Once we give you all the information you need, how long, roughly, do you think it would take to create the website? And, again ballpark figure, how much it might cost?”

It’s of course laughable to anyone with web building experience to think that you can predict the schedule and price prior to seeing the website requirements. To non techie consumers however they view websites as a product, like say a train set or a set of LEGOS. To the uninitiated they’re all kind of the same thing and require the same amount of work and talent.

DailyDigital Home

Making web building accessible to non technical people has opened up the web to greater and greater audiences. Tools such as WordPress and its world famous five minute install, or services offered by Yahoo or Google have made it easy for anyone to have a site. With a minor amount of technical skill anybody can now have a little home online. What these services do is prebuild the vast majority of the site and let the user customize a few options. One such category of websites that is in desperate need of a prebuilt solution is online digital content stores. All the customer I mentioned above wanted was a place to sell their digital songs and advertise their soundtrack business. Were they to build this site from scratch it would cost thousands. Or they could use DailyDigital, for free.

DailyDigital is a prefab online store builder that allows people to create stores to sell their content online. They can create attractive storefronts which have a home on DailyDigital’s site and can be embedded anywhere on the web. With it people can easily put together an online store and manage their sales, payment collections, and content through a simple online interface. It provides the best security content precautions the web has to offer and allows users to focus on creating content.

Setting up DailyDigital takes a minor amount of technical know how, but it’s not overly difficult. You need to connect it to your existing hosting account. This can be from services such as Amazon S3 or GoDaddy. If you don’t already have a hosting account DailyDigital will help you get set up with one. Then you need to sync your accounts so you can manage the content. Once set up you can upload files, add titles, tags, and descriptions. You also have the ability to create collections. By default files are sorted by file type such as all videos, audio files, and pictures being stored separately. Let’s say you’re an up and coming rock star and you’d like to group all your content associated with a specific show together. You can create a collection for this so your fans can find it all in the same location.

DailyDigital Home

As mentioned, DailyDigital’s service is free. The way it works is the content is commission supported. They collect 15% of your sales as payment for the service. If you’d like to eliminate this fee then it’s a flat rate of $20 a month. If you aren’t selling your content then it’s ad supported, but the ads are removed if you sell your content or if you sign up for the monthly plan. So when starting out you can sign up for the free service. When things pick up you can switch over to the monthly fee to limit your expenses.

DailyDigital opens up selling digital content to anyone who desires to. Whether they have a ton of technical experience or are just getting going it’s a great way to sell content online. Its slick and professional look gives you the ability to create a professional and secure store online. With it anyone can create a digital store online.

Startup

MyWineAssistant: Tracking Your Favorite Wines

Some people love collecting wine. I used to have a neighbor who owned her own mini vineyard of sorts. She didn’t actually own land, only the brand. She would purchase all the materials to produce the wine and then sell it at fairs. It was a sweet apple wine, nice for dessert. In some cases people know every brand and type of wine out there. These oenophiles always have interesting things to say about the wines they taste. They get this sophisticated quizzical look on their face as they sip. Then they pause for a second before they pronounce that it’s fruity with a nice finish with hints of raspberries. I’m pretty convinced they make that stuff up. It’s a far cry from drinking from kegs and Dixie cups as they do at college parties. I’ll point out that drunkenness is one and the same regardless of class and libation.

In my wine drinking experience I tend to buy by the label. If the label seems interesting then I’ll give it a shot. I rarely recall which one I buy as it’s not really that important to me. Except of course when I’m back at the store wondering which ones I liked. Sure there are a few on the list that I remember but I tend to want to buy new ones to explore different wines. Tracking the wines one owns can be a fun hobby and help improve your overall wine drinking experience.

MyWineAssistant Home

MyWineAssistant is just the tool to help with such an endeavor. It allows you to track all your bottles, rate them, and maintains a virtual rack online. It’s a must have addition to any wine enthusiast’s repertoire. As we all know once you start having a glass or two you may not recall which one it was or how you felt about it.

The most basic part of MyWineAssistant is the cellar. Here you can create racks of wine and add bottles to it. You can organize your wine rack like you might normally in your real cellar. Many wines are already in their database so you only need to search for them and then add them to your rack. If you don’t find your wine in their database then you can add a new producer so it can be included too. As we all know wine is sometimes best enjoyed after a certain number of years. Some wines age better than others. MWA lets you indicate when your wines are ‘ready’ for drinking or when they’re getting close to sitting on the shelf too long. For those with elaborate collections it’s difficult to track all the dates of their wines and when they’re ready to be enjoyed.

The virtual rack, pictured below, is an attractive cellar-esque display of your wines. You can display two racks at a time and it allows you to move bottles from one rack to another. This is done by dragging and dropping them. You can also view each bottle’s details.

MyWineAssistant Virtual Rack

At the end of the day MyWineAssistant is a database of your wine collection. As such they provide bulk data processing tools as well. These allow you to make bulk updates to your collection so you don’t have to do things one by one. So if you throw a huge party and your guests enjoy a case of your favorite wine you can update that all the bottles have been consumed. You can also update in bulk wine values, cellar position, and make other information. To ensure your records are kept safe you can also backup your information for offline processing and safekeeping.

MyWineAssistant offers full reports so you can view information on your wines and always see what’s going on. Not to mention it includes an ordering processing feature so you can have new wines sent directly to you. MyWineAssistant set out with the ambition of building a top notch tool for serious wine collecting enthusiasts. By our best inspection they’ve done just that providing a series of dynamic and helpful tools. This will make the collecting and drinking of wine more enjoyable for everyone.

Startup

Soul2Match: Looking For Love

All around the world people want to fall in love. This has been a boon for many online companies. As people try to avoid the stigma of meeting someone at the bar they’ve turned to internet forums to meet their soul companion. Though meeting someone online has attained its own set of stigmas and prejudices it has proven to be an effective way to connect with others. The question becomes how can you assess whether the person on the other end is a good fit?

Every online dating company answers this question in a different way. Some base it solely on age, location, and gender. These are in fact the bare bone minimum requirements for two people to build a relationship. As many have come to find out these baseline requirements by no means give any indication of the success of the relationship. As such, some sites have made attempts to improve people’s chances of finding a good match. These range from personality matching, astrological sign pairing, to filling out simple questionnaires. What if there was a way to tell immediately if someone was a good fit? Such as a simple and easy test that is in most cases an accurate indication about a couple’s compatibility. One such test is brought to us by a newly released site, Soul2Match. And the test? They compare two people’s faces and give them a compatibility rating.

Soul2Match Home

In Soul2Match’s words, “Science proves that soul mate relationships are based on shared values which can be detected in facial features. The biometric software of Soul2Match analyzes your facial features and bone structure and helps detect your soul mate love and friendship.

The first thing we need to address is the obvious- that this seems exceptionally superficial and vain. How can you reduce two people to their aesthetic appearance? If you take this approach too often in life you’ll reduce everyone to the superficial shell they happened to be born with. But, per Soul2Match’s mission statement their goal is to map facial features to actual values of the person. So the next question becomes, is this possible?

Let’s think about it for a second. Ever meet someone who appeared sleazy? How about someone who you didn’t trust, or someone that you liked? The answer is yes, of course you have. Somehow, someway we all subconsciously make these assessments based upon how people look. An interesting study indicates that unattractive people are more likely to be criminals than attractive. Is this because they’ve been rejected by society and proceeded to descend into a life of crime? Or do their coarse actions ultimately become reflected in their face? Interestingly, the latter line of thinking has been much more prevalent throughout history than we realize. It’s known as physiognomy.

While wholesale acceptance of assessing people based upon physical appearance is questionable, in the context of online dating it’s actually fun. So I signed up for Soul2Match’s free offering and uploaded a pic. Of Charles Manson. You’re actually allowed a few pics, one for your profile, the other is your key picture. The key picture roughly resembles a mug shot so that the patent pending biometrics software can do its magic. Once set up you can enter one of two walls. The first is the match wall. Here you can utilize Soul2Match’s tool and upload key photos of yourself and people you know to gauge your biometric compatibility. Imagine getting the call from your girlfriend stating that you are not compatible according to the latest scientific pairing assessments. As an aside, Soul2Match addresses this issue in their FAQ, “There is no good or bad. Love works in mysterious ways. This means the low compatibility score is an excellent rating for you.”

This Ukrainian Beauty is Only 19% Compatible with Manson- It works!

The real fun is the flirt wall. Here you can browse through potential mates getting quick assessments of your compatibility rating. You can check the scores and send a message if you like. You can imagine the surprise when the girl found out she’s 34% compatible with Mr. Manson. It made for a good conversation starter. Ultimately Soul2Match will be a paid service with messaging people on the flirt wall being a subscription service. This helps raise the bar on the quality and intentions of its patrons.

Soul2Match takes a fun and very real approach to starting relationships. Though its not intended to be the sole means by which people are gauged it makes a natural place to start. In a sense, Soul2Match does with a program what we all do instinctively in real life. For better or worse we all hold the value that happy couples are those that share similar features. If one party is decidedly different looking they just don’t look right. Taken in the right spirit, Soul2Match is a fun and interesting way to measure your compatibility with others and meet new people online.

Startup

SlimAds: Ousting Craigslist and Outdoing Google Adsense

I love new ideas. The web is chalk for of people who draw their inspiration from whatever anyone else is doing. Imitators- they’re all imitators imitating each other. This has never been more clear than with Google’s recent launch of Google Plus. It imitates everything Facebook does, improving upon a few things. Though some point out that G+’s real strength is its integration with Google Docs, its real weakness is that it’s the most non-innovative competitor in the Facebook market. In fact by creating a clone Google effectively declared loudly and clearly that they’re a desperate follower in the Facebook market, as opposed to the newly emerging leader in the social networking space. They’re just another me-too-er in a world of wannabes.

So when I come across a site like SlimAds I’m not quite sure what to make of them. They present themselves as a way to post ads, which is taking aim at good ol’ Craigslist. Of course here at SlapStart we’re always content to welcome a new challenger into the classifieds arena. Perhaps we enjoy their creativity. Or perhaps we’re amused by the carnage. Craigslist is the most recalcitrant of websites when it comes to giving up market share. Their only known defeat was with their red light district, and that only by legal wranglings. So what does SlimAds offer?

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SlimAds offers new and improved ads. Their ads are informational with tabbed sections that make it easy to display pictures, video, descriptions, and more. In a concise business card sized format people can include everything they’re marketing in an easy to discover format. These ads can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else on the web. We even embedded one below for example.

The tabs and presentation are what makes SlimAds special. They allow users to click through and find all the information they need. These include Info which is a description, Images, Videos, Contact, and a Sharing section. When clicked the images are displayed in a full size picture viewer that the user can page through. The videos open in a new window so as not to encumber the user’s experience. Contact is a simple form that will allow the user to contact the person about the ad. Finally sharing allows them to share the ad on Facebook, Twitter, or scan the QR code with their mobile device.

SlimAds itself consist of a rather Craigslist-esque interface. Once you enter the site you arrive on a page with a variety of categories with, you guessed it, tons of SlimAds. Sections include Jobs, Rentals, Services, Pets, and other typical categories for classifieds. When creating an ad people will select the category for it and then share their ad throughout the web. So what’s this business I mentioned about outdoing Google’s Adsense?

In a case of going to the store to get milk and coming home with a new lawn mower, I propose that SlimAds may have stumbled into an entirely different market. Though they didn’t completely arrive there, I have to notice that SlimAds looks remarkable like, well, an ad. Just like an ad from Adsense or any other online advertising provider. The difference with SlimAds ads is that they are not landmines hidden throughout websites. For instance, when you see ads on websites most people attempt to avoid them lest their web browsing session be interrupted with the internet equivalent of an infomercial. People distinctly and decidedly do not like clicking them. But that’s not the case with SlimAds. They’re unobtrusive. You can click the tabs and look at the pictures and videos without leaving the page you’re on. I’ll just leave this minor set of feedback here- that SlimAds could make a few adjustments and build in a publishers and paid advertisers network for people to host and share their ads. Not only is it long past the time for Craigslist to be relieved of its market share in the classifieds sector, but it’s also time for someone to offer a better advertising scheme that unclickable landmine schemes. SlimAds could be positioned to do both. For starters we humbly request they consider including an embed code on their sharing tab. We took it upon ourselves to create our own for this demo.

The people at SlimAds are innovators, and for that we commend them. They take aim at Craigslist and to that end they indeed have built a product that promises to provide a more streamlined online classifieds experience. What they didn’t immediately realize is they built a prototype solution to a long time pet peeve of mine- solving the online don’t-click-my-ads problem. Whatever they choose to do, it’s a fascinating solution and great way to post ads online.

Sponsored

Monitro: The Server Nightshift

I walked by my favorite burrito shop today. It must have been earlier than normal because they had a sign up- Store Closed. Perhaps the owners decided to sleep in today. Or maybe they always start later on some days of the week. Whatever the case there was no way to get an early morning burrito this morning, at least not from that place.

Websites are like stores, with a minor exception. They never close. Sure there are a few sites out there that have the audacity to only provide service during standard business hours, but for the most part websites are online all the time. For large industrial sites such as Ebay and Amazon this is no problem. They have full time staff working 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In the event of a major issue there will always be someone around to respond to it and resolve it.

Monitro Home

Of course senior IT aren’t so lucky. You can always recognize them by their pocket protectors and pagers. The pen pocket protectors are there to adhere to the strict nerd dress code. Usually their shirt isn’t tucked in and they haven’t bathed in a while as well. The pager serves one and only one purpose, and it’s not to enhance their social life. It’s to contact them anytime and anywhere so they can be called into the office to fix the server. Their store is never officially closed.

Of the millions of websites online few of them have the luxury of a full time staff. The person in charge of ensuring the site is online is the same person that works the day shift. There are but a few people working on the site, and sometimes that’s only in their spare time. It’s possible for the site to go down and the site owner wouldn’t know for hours, or maybe even days. During the time the site is down people are arriving at it, many of whom will never return. These are lost customers, lost leads, and lost users. Websites aren’t allowed to have a store closed sign.

Fortunately there’s an easy way to check whether your site’s online, with Monitro. It’s a free utility that will check your site and let you know when it’s down. All you do is register, submit your site, enter the email address to be notified of any issues, and then the interval that you’d like it to be checked. It can be set to check every half hour all the way up to once a day. Once set up site owners can rest assured they’ll be the first to know if their site goes down.

Monitro comes with a bit of whiz bang. The first is that you’re allowed to check up to three URLs for free, (dubbed endpoints in Monitro terminology). If you need more than that you can register for one of their monthly plans. Next are their advanced settings. If the page you’d like to check requires HTTP authentication you can enter the details so Monitro can log in and check it for you. Next you can check for specific text. So let’s say you’d like to ensure the words, “My site is awesome” appear on the page. You can enter them there. It also allows you to check for words you don’t want to appear and be notified if so.

Setting Up an Endpoint with Monitro

Another noteworthy aspect of Monitro is their API. It’s still in beta testing but developers can contact their support team directly to gain access to it. This will give them the ability to programmatically set up endpoints, update account information and turn monitoring on and off. The last feature is especially helpful if you’re have a planned downtime. It’s nice not to receive a bunch of warning messages if you’re launching a new version of your site over the weekend. Apart from the API, the monitoring can be toggled through the main dashboard.

Monitro is a perfect example of a great online service. They do one thing, do it well, and have a simple product offering for it. The ever popular freemimum pricing model makes it perfect for people to test out, and then sign up for more sites as needed. With it site owners can relax knowing their site is always online or respond immediately if there’s an issue.

Startup

Kupima: What Your Users Really Think

Last week I had the opportunity to do something that I’ve always wanted. I was a user tester. I know, I know, you’re all jealous. Much to their demise I had been identified as part of their target user base. Little did they realize I’m a staunch opponent of the type of product they’re building. Had I known ahead of time I would have declared my bias to them. No such luck but I enjoyed it anyway.

When I was there I found all the things one might expect from a user study. No, they didn’t have one way mirrors with a panel with what I can only assume are people with lab coats and clipboards behind it. Instead they had a webcam and screencast which displayed my every word and action in the room next store. It was incredibly being able to talk for a full hour without anyone losing interest in what I had to say. In other circles my words are good for around 15 seconds, unless someone has something better to do. It was quite an experience.

Not all companies can afford a full time user testing engineer though. It’s both costly and not part of the critical path of building a product. Or so they think. If your users don’t like your product then it’s not going to be successful. Sure product managers, graphic designers, and developers are capable of conceiving and building a fully functional app, but the users will be the judge of its success. The general rule of thumb is the sooner you can involve users in the design process the better. Changes are more costly as time goes on.

Once teams realize the importance of user testing the next task is to find a cost effective way to do it. Most firms can’t afford a full time UI engineer and consultants aren’t cheap either. A better way to accomplish the same thing is to use Kupima. It’s a UI testing tool that lets you get valuable feedback from users. It’s allows you to test the users while they work from their own computers.

Kupima comes with a wizard to set up your tests. The first thing to do is to create the test. This includes entering basic details such as the number of users to test, the URL, and a description of the scenario or objective. Next is to select the users. Here you can specify the demographics of the users you’d like to test. The meat of the user test consists of creating tasks that users will attempt to accomplish. So if you’ve just built a new registration process a sample task would be to tell a user to register. Tests can include up to 12 tasks depending on which package you sign up for. Each test has a questionnaire associated with it as well to gain insight on specific functions or actions.

Kupima Report

One of the most challenging parts of user testing is finding the users. With Kupima you have two options. You can use their prescreened users or you can provide your own. It entirely depends on the needs of the design team to determine which will work for them. Many websites are built for the general public so using their prescreened users would be fine. If you need specialized users such as doctors or lawyers you’re best locating them on your own.

User testing is a lesser known aspect of the design process. Many teams don’t bother with it, and suffer the consequences. At the end of all their hard work users may not like their product. Kupima makes user testing a viable options for all development teams. Its budget friendly service allows you to find out exactly what users think and make improvements accordingly.

Sponsored

WireframeSketcher: Mockups, Designs, and Prototypes

Everybody has soft spots for certain things. For some it’s chocolate. For others they like flowers. Or then some people like tools, cars, or water. Ah, the water. Oceans, lakes, pools- they’re just so nice to jump in. These things bring up fond memories, happy feelings, and nice thoughts. It’s always funny when people have a soft spot for something that’s odd or unique. Perhaps they like a certain type of dessert or collect oddities from knick knack stores. You can tell a lot about someone based upon the things they’re fond of. There’s one thing I’m quietly keen on, which is not altogether common. I like wireframe tools.

Many people might not even know what these things are. They’re design tools that allow you to sketch out the design before you put the final finish on it. They’re where the thinking happens. Where the pieces are still free, waiting to find their places. They exist before the crazy marketing lady insists that the whole thing needs to be pink. Products are still pure when they’re in the wireframe stage. They still have hope.

As with all things it’s important to use the right tools for the job. Many people might be tempted to use Adobe Photoshop to create wireframes. This is often a mistake. Photoshop gives you too much power and too much ability to slip into the trap of creating final designs too soon. The key is to design the functional aspects of the site or application first and then add the aesthetic decoration to it later. Once the final finish starts finding its way into the project it gets harder and harder to think through and fix the essence of what the product does. Many a site and software product has launched with a beautiful design that just doesn’t work the way you’d like it to.

One such wireframe tool is WireframeSketcher. It’s a downloadable application that can handle all your wireframe needs. It provides a nice balance between fully functional design suites and barebones wireframe tools.

WireframeSketcher comes as both a standalone application and a plugin for any Eclipse IDE. It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. As many people know mockups have their origins in good old fashion pencil and paper. As such many mockup tools retain this un-glossed look to carry over the unfinished look. The fonts and objects have that hand drawn look and feel to ensure nobody could misinterpret it as a final design. (But then some sites launch with this since they think it’s cute, but that’s a different story.)

It comes with all the basic tools to document the screens, interaction, storyboards for use cases, and every other aspect of the functional design. The sketches themselves consist of the usual suspect building blocks such as boxes, submit buttons, forms, drop downs, and the rest of the components in the toolbox of application design. The designs can be for all types of devices including web sites, desktop applications, and mobile apps. One interesting component of WireframeSketcher is that it comes with what’s known as wiki formatting. This allows designers to quickly and easily fill in and modify sample text for their mockup designs. It also comes with a vast array of icons, and a library of UI controls. The final product is an interactive prototype which can be viewed in full screen mode or exported as a clickable PDF.

Sample Mockup of and iPhone App

So, let’s imagine a scenario. The design team and product manager pour hours and weeks into creating a working interactive prototype of their product. After many a long meeting, and working and reworking various work flows, they walk the final version down to the marketing department. Right on cue she says she wants it to be pink. Great, just great. Well, that’s why I love wireframe tools and mockup builders. They’re used while the product is still real, still alive. At least some products make it through the tangly echelons of management and the high powered mindsets that comprise them. Regardless, WireframeSketcher is a full featured tool to create professional level mockups.