Axe: Web Design Critique Comes to the iPad

There’s a never-ending debate over whether tablets can be productive devices, perhaps even substitutes for full computers, or if they’re simply to be relegated to the status of a nice tech toy. Despite the many brilliant productive tools that have been designed for the iPad, one of the best examples of areas that tablets break productivity is web apps. While some web apps work great on the iPad, many are much more difficult to use.

Gmail Mobile presents a nice change to this trend, with a beautiful iPad-style web app. LucidChart is another example of an app that includes extra features designed just for the iPad. Today, we’re featuring another great app that’s been designed just for tablet browsers: Axe. This new free app from ZURB joins the ranks of their other great apps as an easy way to quickly markup a website with your feedback. It’s easier than ever on a touchscreen, so let’s take a look at how this app might make your iPad a bit more productive.

Web, Meet Tablets

When you get a link to a new site, and are asked to give feedback about it, it can be incredibly hard to tell others exactly what you’re thinking about the site design. That’s why there are so many popular web apps for giving feedback about site designs. Problem is, if you’re working on an iPad or other tablet, most of these web apps won’t work.

That’s where Axe comes in. It’s a feedback app that’s been designed from the ground up for the iPad and other tablet browsers. It’s been designed not just to work with touch, but to take advantage of the best of multitouch to make giving feedback easier than ever. Here’s a quick video from their team to show you a demo of Axe in action.

When you’re ready to give feedback on a site in Axe, just open your tablet’s browser, browse to, and enter a site you want to critique. Axe will start loading it, and will show you a quick overview of its features so you’ll be ready to start giving feedback as soon as its loaded. After a few moments, a screenshot of the full-length webpage will open, with Axe’s toolbar on the top. Just drag the site screenshot with two fingers to scroll up and down, or start dragging your finger anywhere on the page to draw on it.

Your site, ready to be taken under the axe

Wielding an Axe With Your Finger

Marking up the site design is simple. Just drag with your finger to draw, just like you would in any other tablet drawing app. Double-tap to switch between fine or broad virtual ink, or tap the respective buttons on the top. There’s not tons of options, just a heavy black ink to mark out things you think should be removed, and a lighter pencil ink to draw shapes and annotations on the design. You can draw anywhere on the page; just drag with two fingers to go down to the bottom of the site screenshot. If you mess up, just shake your iPad to undo the changes, or tap the Clear button on the top.

Mark out content, draw shapes, and scribble your thoughts naturally

Even if a picture is worth a thousand words, you’ll still likely need to add a text description of the problem. That’s easy too. Just tap and hold anywhere on the page, and a text box will open where you can save a note. This way, you can let the designers know exactly what you think needs changed.

Tap and hold to add text notes

Sharing Your Thoughts

When you’re all finished, it’s time to share your thoughts with the site designers, developers, or anyone else you’d like to see your mockup. Just tap the Save and Share button, and an email form will open with a link directly to your Axed site design. Alternately, you can send your marked-up site directly to ZURB’s Notable to continue the site discussion with your whole team.

Share your thoughts the way that works best for you

Once they’ve received your email or the link, they’ll be able to see the full screenshot complete with your scribbles, underlines, text notes, and more. They can alos share the feedback on social networks right from the top of the page, or send it to Notable from their viewing page. It’s just the features you’d need to send feedback wherever you are from your iPad.

An Axed site back in your desktop browser


So, while Axe doesn’t offer tons of tools to give feedback about sites, it’s got enough to let you sketch your basic ideas and add notes to make your points clear. Best of all, you can do all of that in seconds from your tablet browser. The integration with standard iPad features, such as tap-and-hold or shake to undo, makes it as simple to use as a native app.

If you’d like to give more feedback about sites, ZURB has several other apps you might find handy. Spur is an app for seeing sites in unique ways, which can give you more ideas on how to improve them. Chop lets you give feedback on the actual code used in a site. And Notable is their full-featured website feedback tool that works great from any browser. With the new Axe tablet web app, you’ll be able to give any feedback you want about a site from anywhere, using ZURB tools.

Have you ever put a ZURB tool to use with your team? If you’ve got a tablet, be sure to give Axe a try; it’s a great example of a web app designed for tablets, and we hope to see more similar apps in the near future!


Markup and send feedback about sites right from your iPad or other tablet with this new, free web app.