No matter what you’re designing, you won’t get it right the first time. Odds are, you won’t get it right the 20th time either. Design is an iterative process. You’ll have to come up with your basic idea, then you’ll have to pick the best way to approach it. Then, you may have several different design ideas for each approach to the app, site, newsletter, or whatever else you’re designing. And then you’ll have different ideas from each of those ideas once you start integrating feedback.
Starting to feel like you need something to pull it all together? That’s where Zurb’s newest app, Influence, comes in.
It’s all in how you present it
Why does it sometimes seem like you can get tons of feedback, but nothing that can actually help you ship your products or improve your work? Some people seemed like they liked this thing, others gave you feedback on another thing, and the real signals get lost in the noise. Influence takes the guesswork out of getting feedback on your design, giving you the power to, well, influence the conversation about your work and get actionable critiques that can help you make the best designs you can.
Right now, Influence is in private release. You can signup to request an invite at their site, and they’re excited about getting early adopters in to try out the app and perhaps give them some actionable feedback on their latest project, too! You can also easily test it out some sample presos to see how you can give feedback on an Influence project. It works a lot like Zurb’s Reel app, a way to share presentations online, mixed with Spur, but designed just for images.
Getting your own feedback
Influence lets you set the stage to get the correct feedback for your designs. If you’re designing a mobile app, or a new tablet-centric website, you’ll want your reviewers to know what it’s for. Rather than just adding screenshots or sketches of your new site or app for others to see, you can put them in their appropriate context to make it easier for people to judge what they really think of them. And if your design isn’t a site or app, you could still use Influence’s computer design mode to just show your full-sized images of whatever you’re designing.
Now, you can add your mockups, screenshots, presentation slides, or anything else you’re wanting critiqued. You’re not limited to just image files, but can also add PowerPoint presentations or PDF files. These will be split into individual slides or pages, just as you’d expect, and you could even mix multiple media types to put everything together and get the feedback you need. Then, you can add titles and comments or rearrange images, the same way you could in Zurb’s Reel presentation app.
You’re doing all this because you want feedback, or want to show off your design and present it to others, and Influence has the settings you need to get feedback the way you want. You can allow thumb up/down ratings, annotations, comments, and even let the feedback be kept anonymous so you don’t know who’s actually criticizing your design skills. If you want all of those features, or none of them, you can get the exact mix you need. Or, you can enable Presenter Mode, which lets you control the slides on your own computer while others view the presentation from their computers. This way, you could talk to people about it, say in Skype, while showing them your designs. You could even use this feature to show off a pitch or other presentation without looking for feedback at all! And if your designs are top-secret, don’t worry: Influence can automatically delete your presentation after a set period as well.
Bringing it all together
So you’ve put together your designs, figured out how much you want people to tell you, and shared your presentation with your handpicked reviewers or the whole world. With most feedback tools, the hard part of figuring out how to make sense of the feedback is still yet to come. Influence thankfully takes the guesswork out of this. You can get a quick overview of the feedback on your designs, seeing how many people looked at it, which slides got the most thumbs-ups or comments, and look at the comments for all the slides together. If you want to see specific annotations, you can open the images and see everything together. It’s a quick way to see which style was the crowd favorite, and then just get the extra feedback on that design you’re going to finalize.
While Influence is obviously a great way to get feedback on your designs, it’s also a great tool that could be used for a number of purposes. You could, for example, use it to share presentations that are actually intended for your real audience, and then see which slides seem to get the most negative feedback so you can iterate them. Or, you could try testing out small changes on your designs, just to see which one gets noticed. Or, as we mentioned before, you could use it to get feedback over the phone directly from your colleagues, while you’re controlling the presentation, or you could just use it to give a remote presentation.
Influence has been nicely designed and shows the influence of Zurb’s other apps, many of which we’ve already found useful in our web app arsenal. We’d love to hear if you give Influence a try, and how you end up using it!