The Notes feature in Axure RP is an easy way to document and communicate the intent and functionality of your designs. This can be especially useful as the developers are implementing the solution or when QA is writing test scripts based on the design.
However, we’ve found that the ability to add notes to pages and widgets has served a wider range of uses for ourselves and for customers — from defining project goals to jotting down a quick to-do list. This article outlines several examples for how you can make use of notes in Axure RP, along with some best practices. (For a quick primer on notes, read our articles on Page Notes and Widget Notes.)
Define Stakeholder Groups
Page notes and widget notes can each be separated into multiple fields. The fields created for page notes will be available for all pages. Similarly, widget notes fields are available for all widgets.
One way to organize notes is by their intended audience. For example, you can separate notes for clients, developers, business analysts, copywriters, and so on. (To learn how to do this, read our step-by-step tutorial for customizing page note fields.)
When you generate an HTML prototype for a client, for example, you can configure it to only include notes relevant to the client. You have the same flexibility to decide which notes to include when creating Word documentation.
It helps to establish what types of information each team member needs and how specific that information should be at the beginning of the project. Then, create the notes fields accordingly. Separating the notes into fields can help your team create more consistent and complete documentation.
Establish Page Goals
Pete Karabetis, the Director of User Experience at LMO Advertising, uses page notes to establish the purpose of the screen, define use cases that need to be satisfied, and include URLs to related documents (please note that Page Notes currently do not support active links).
“This helps the content creator know what kind of copy they need. It helps developers know what elements on the page needs to be created as a variable. And it helps the visual designer think about the layout and the creative elements that need to be there to support the goals,” Karabetis said.
Ezra Schwartz and Elizabeth Srail, in their book, Prototyping Essentials With Axure, Second Edition (Packt Publishing) suggest a few other types of high-level information that can be relevant in page notes. Those include page entry points, actions users can take on the page, user experience principles underlying the page design, business requirements fulfilled by the page, as well as localization and personalization notes.
Store Project Information
For pages that go through several versions, Svetlin Denkov of GN ReSound creates separate notes for each version, labeling them with version number followed by date like so: “v01 20151001”, “v02 20151002”.
Depending on the project and team size, Svetlin also uses notes to communicate:
- Target release date
- Name of the final decision maker
- Person to whom the task is currently assigned
- Status (in scope or out of scope, approved or not)
Document Functional Specifications
This was the original purpose of the Notes feature. Widget notes can be used to document specifications and provide the information necessary for developers to build the solution.
Determining the right amount of documentation to put in the notes depends highly on your team and your process. In a lean environment and working closely with the development team, you might choose to keep the notes as concise as possible. If your process is more waterfall, or the solution is complex, or you are working with a remote team, too little documentation can lead to a lack of clarity and alignment.
“The specifications may be used by a remote team, often overseas, and the developers will interpret your words verbatim,” Schwartz and Srail noted in their book, “while in an agile environment, the developers might barely read anything.”
Create a To-Do List for Yourself or Your Team
You can use page notes to jot down things you need to do for that page. When you return to the file, the notes serve as a quick reminder of what needs to be done for the page.
If there are multiple people contributing to the file or team project, keeping a simple task list within the page notes will let you know who is taking care of which tasks. This can be particularly helpful when someone new joins the team.
Keep Track of Changes
Similarly, for projects with multiple cooks, you can use page notes to keep track of who changed what. Each time you make a change to a page, type in a line about what was changed so the rest of your team knows what happened.
With Team Projects, you can also add a Check In Note each time you check in your changes the project. Those are notes appear in the Team Project History (shown below) and are separate from page and widget notes. (You can learn how to access the history in our Team Projects tutorial.)
In general, use widget notes or page notes when you want to document individual changes made to a page or widget. Use Team Project notes when you want to capture a broad summary of all the changes you’ve made across the entire project during a single check-in.
Here’s a quick recap.
Six Ways to Leverage Notes in Axure RP Pro
Define Stakeholder Groups. Organize notes by their intended audience. For example, you can separate notes for clients, developers, business analysts, copywriters, and so on. When you generate an HTML Prototype, you can configure it to only include notes relevant to the audience you want to target.
Establish Page Goals. Use page notes to establish such things as the purpose of the page, define use cases that need to be satisfied, URLs to related documents, page entry points, actions users can take on the page, user experience principles underlying the page design, business requirements fulfilled by the page, as well as localization and personalization notes.
Store Project Information. You can use notes to manage projects. Examples of project information include target release date, name of the final decision maker, person to whom the task is currently assigned, version number, project or page status.
Document Functional Specifications. Provide the information necessary for developers to build the solution.
Create To-Do Lists. Jot down things you need to do for that page. When you return to the file, the notes serve as a quick reminder of what needs to be done for the page. If there are multiple people contributing to the file or team project, keeping a simple task list within the page notes will let you know know who is taking care of which tasks.
Keep Track of Changes. Use the Page Notes to keep track of who changed what. Each time you make a change to a page, just add a note about what was changed so the rest of your team knows what happened.
Notes Versus Comments
Page notes and widget notes are created and managed within Axure RP. They are typically part of the documentation of the solution or notes for the authors of the design. To gather feedback or have conversations with others, you can use Axure Share’s in-browser discussion and screenshot tool.
We hope these examples give you a few new ideas for using notes in Axure RP. Do you have other ways to leverage notes? We’d love to hear about them, either in the comments below or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.