The tool is important because it allows designers to create design prototypes more easily, making it more likely that an application design can be evolved several times during the course of a development cycle. In a video introducing Flowella Tim Brooke, Senior Design Specialist (nokia Desgn), notes that Forum Nokia found that, "a lot of designers were creating visual assets that never made it made out of Illustrator or PowerPoint" and that "a lack of developer resources means prototypes are not created or are created too late in the process". The result is that "designers are unable to test until late in the design process and this is often too late to suggest significant change".
The aim of Flowella is to allow a greater amount of design prototyping to be included within a project. It should also help free up developer resources that may have previously been used for prototyping. The end result will be an application with better UX, which will be easier to use and more popular with consumers.
From a series of images to a prototype which can be run on the phone.
Flowella works by importing a series of images representing different views and states within an application (mocked-up screenshots) and linking them together. A link represents a 'flow' within an application, either a button press or touch event. With Flowella it is possible to build complex design prototype with multiple flows and linkages.
A demo can be run in the included simulator at any time and projects can also be exported from Flowella either as a WRT widget or a Flash Lite application, allowing it to be run on a real mobile device. This allows a more realistic assessment and testing of the design to be carried out.
Flowella is an impressive rapid design prototyping tool. Its primary usage will be within existing developer teams. However I can also see this as being useful for those who want to explore ideas themselves and explain it in a visual way. For example it could be use by an agency or brand to help explain the scoping of a project before putting it out to tendering by developers.
Flowella is an Adobe Air application
Flowella is an Adobe Air application and is compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X. An example prototype (Forum NokiaPodcasts) is included to demonstrate how the tool can be used.
More information is available on Forum Nokia including a demo video, tutorial and the Flowella download page.
Flowella introduction video