As Product Manager of Qualtrax, I get to wear many hats: user interface designer, project manager, market researcher, chili-cook-off also-ran… Not all hats are created equal, obviously. Nonetheless, to do all of these things well with only so many hours in a day, I rely heavily on several handy tools.
I’d like to take a second and share how a couple of these help make Qualtrax better. Hopefully, you may even find them useful for your own business.
Balsamiq –To better communicate and illustrate product ideas with our stakeholders, I’ve really come to love Balsamiq. This incredibly user-friendly design tool lets me quickly create simple, but effective mockups of new features which I can then share with anyone. In redesigning our navigation layer in the latest release, this tool was invaluable. It let me quickly make a template that could be adjusted for each subpage a user might visit, and then copy common elements (like search controls) across mockups as those elements needed to be modified. It comes pre-loaded with buttons, windows, fields, and lots more to get you started out of the box. There is a free trial period, but a lifetime license only costs ~$80—well worth the man hours it saves.
Diagramming on napkins may still have a place, but I recommend this tool for anyone looking to design layouts. Below is an example of a Qualtrax mockup in Balsamiq.
Trello – For anyone coordinating projects with multiple parties, particularly remote parties, Trello is just as exciting. This free online tool lets you create lists with individualized tasks or To-Do items. You can drag and drop items between each as you work them, and can even upload files for others to view or edit. Ultimately, you can share your board with others over the web. If you coordinate timelines or events for big or small projects, Trello’s a wonderful way to keep everyone on the same page visually, over the web.
At Qualtrax, I use this tool internally to communicate our roadmap and backlog to stakeholders in real-time. I also use it with customers on larger projects as my primary management tool. It sends me notification emails whenever someone comments on an item or makes a change. Even better, the free version lets you create and manage as many boards as you’d like. Try it!