iPad apps for a UX workflow

Anyone who knows me well knows I’m an avid iPad user – and no, not just for games (though I do have plenty). I’m always in the app store looking for great apps to help improve my workflow.  I’ve tried and tested too many to count, but here’s an outline of apps worth mentioning, and how they relate to my UX workflow.

Rapid sketching, idea jotting, note-taking

This part of the process is where the iPad excels most, in my opinion. It’s great for taking into meetings and jotting down some quick ideas, that can be easily shared with the rest of the team.

Penultimate

(Paid) With a smooth and realistic line drawing capability that closely mimics ink on paper, I find Penultimate great for quick sketches. You can create multiple notebooks (I create one for each client), and pages (or the entire notebook) can be easily shared by email, or saved as a photo.  Coupled with a Pogosketch or other stylus, this app is dead simple to use, without all the distracting bells and whistles.

Noteshelf

(Paid) Similar to Penultimate, I tried a quick switch to this application, with its Evernote and Dropbox integration being the key drawcard.  Its drawing capabilities are quite on par with Penultimate, and it does add a few extra export options and features such as the ability to import photos from the photo library.  If you’re an Evernote user, this might be more up your alley.

Formal notetaking (and everything in between)

Evernote

(Free, with premium options) I was at first a bit doubtful about Evernote, with my first encounter in its early days of my first iPhone, where I deleted the application because I did not want to register for an account. But it’s come along way since then, and I find Evernote not just useful for capturing those meeting minutes, but everything else in between.

Whiteboard sketches in particular are fantastic with Evernote’s OCR recognition.  If you’ve got neat(ish) handwriting, Evernote’s search will pick up your handwritten notes in the results! Evernote’s desktop application also syncs with iPad and/or iPhone application seamlessly.

If you haven’t yet tried it out, I will say it does take some initial effort to weave it into your existing workflow. But you’ll soon find its a fantastic way to store your notes, thoughts and everything in between.

Contextual Inquiries, Interviews, or Requirements Gathering (e.g. stakeholder workshops)

Soundnote

Where you want to capture and record a session, be it interviews or a stakeholder requirements gathering workshop, an app that allows notetaking, coupled with sound recording is key.  Soundnote does a great job of this, with the added function that if you tap a word during a recording playback, it jumps to the correct point in the audio when that note was taken.

I’ve only tested this app in a quiet environment, so if you’re thinking of using it in a larger meeting, an external microphone may be required.

Wireframing and diagramming

Generally, I don’t really use the iPad for wireframing – I definitely find it more useful in the rapid sketching part of the process. I am definitely still searching for a flow diagramming or mindmapping tool (the search continues), but generally find that these parts of the process I enjoy working with tactile objects and large spaces (big wall, lots of post its).  The following are just mentions, but I’m still wondering if the iPad should (or can) play a role in this area.

Omnigraffle

(Paid) I thought this app worth a mention, purely from the standpoint that, despite paying $60 for the app, its actually one that I rarely use.  The app does almost have the full capabilities of the desktop version of Omnigraffle (which I use a fair bit), but its slightly more difficult to move around, and even more difficult to use without the accuracy of a stylus.

Popplet

(Free Lite version, and Paid version) I just wanted to make a quick mention to what seems like it may be a useful application for mindmapping and quick flow diagramming.  If you’re familiar with the web application Popplet, this is a port onto the iPad. I haven’t spent too much time yet using this app, but it seems promising.

Serious sketching

I’ll be honest and say I’m not a great ‘artist’ by any means, but I do like to give it a go every once in awhile. I’ve never really used these apps in my UX workflow, but I think they’re worth including for the more arsty folk out there.

Adobe Ideas

(Free) Though you could technically use this app for some basic sketching (similar to Penultimate), I find its function a little too clumsy for simple idea sketching. But if you’re after a free app that afford some control over pen style, colours, layers etc, this is the app for you.

Sketchbook Pro

(Paid) This is the ultimate sketching application, with all the bells and whistles – you can definitely do some amazing things with this application, if you know how.

With the app store constantly growing, its definitely difficult to keep up to date with all the new and great apps out there. Let me know if there are any apps you think work well in a UX workflow!