When I first came across this book I though - well I've been working with Axure for so long, what can it possibly teach me?
Coming from a programming background, learning to use (and hack) Axure for my needs was pretty easy and straightforward, so I was sure I had everything figured out. I assumed that the book is "Axure for Dummies" style book, maybe I'll learn a few tricks, but nothing more.
Boy, was I wrong!
Lucky I'm in the UX business, when being wrong about something is good news :)
From the moment I started reading, I immediately realized that the vast potential of the book and the huge value of the author's and his colleagues own experience.
The book fell into my hands in just the right time, as I just recently moved from a working for a consulting firm, to an in-house UX Desinger for a product company. This shift in careers also requires a shift in skills. From working mostly on my own, presenting honed ideas to a passive and not very involved client, I needed to shift to working closely with the Program Manager and Development Leader, brainstorming together, constantly changing and refining ideas in terms of days, or sometimes hours. The need to rapidly and accurately bring my ideas to life was ever so prevalent.
And this is what makes the book so valuable. Ezra writes from a perspective of a UX Designer working within the eco-system of the organization. He shares the dilemmas and difficulties of our everyday work, and provides powerful insights to dealing with them. The book goes far beyond the technical aspects of Axure. It describes the best practices of using the tool, throughout the long and changing demand of the project life cycle. Its the difference between learning to use PowerPoint's features, and learning how to create a good presentation.
The first chapter is a must-read for every UX practitioner. Like a true UX professional , Ezra does not tell the reader what's wrong and what's right, but rather lets reality speak for itself.
By interviewing various stakeholders in the project life cycle, and sharing his colleagues' real life scenarios, the message gets clearly across. While reading this chapter it hit me that working with Axure is not an individual endeavor, as I once thought. It is how you use the tool to communicate your thoughts and ideas to other people in the team, and to keep up with the evolving project needs.
I like the very honest approach of the book, presenting Axure's benefits along with its problems. This gives way to dealing with the problems, and finding creative solutions (or patiently waiting for the next version :))
Regarding the technical aspects of the book, I enjoyed the various "eureka" moments I had when discovering the little secretes of Axure. Remember the feeling when you first discovered you can use CTRL+C, CTRL+V instead of using the right click menu? The book is worth the reading just for those hidden Gems.
The explanations and walkthroughs are easy to follow and understand, and the diagrams are very clear. Not an easy feat when it comes to outlining the complicated flow of working with the more advanced features of Axure.
To conclude, it's not an easy decision where to invest your time to develop your professional skills. UX is a rapidly changing field, and with ever extending plethora of websites, conventions and books, it's easy to get lost in irrelevant information.
For me this book was the exact opposite - relevant, insightful and extremely practical for my everyday work. Thanks Ezra!