Victor: When we started Axure, we were focused on solving the communication problem that existed between product managers and developers. I was a project manager at the time and Martin was a developer, so we thought in terms of time, budget, features, and the frustrations of having to rework code. But what made prototyping an obsession was getting to know our customers. They didn't want just to ship software on time. They wanted to build applications that gave users an exceptional experience and delivered a ton of value to them. When we saw how prototyping could help them do that, we were hooked.
Peter: You must get a lot of feedback from Axure users. How do you manage that feedback and decide what new features to develop or features to refine?
Victor: We get a lot of direct feedback, and we also actively look for feedback that customers are sharing with each other. We enter just about every idea into an issue-tracking system, and it’s a regular part of our day to openly discuss new requests and get to an understanding of users’ core issues. After each release, the requests naturally revolve around certain areas, and those surface in the next release. We also like to organize requests by how issues currently make customers feel and how they could feel. Some categories have been offended, annoyed, and wowed. We like to go after features at the extreme ends of that spectrum.
Peter: Having a target audience of UX designers must make the user experience of Axure itself a pretty tough design challenge! What process do you go through to make sure that you’re happy with the design?
Victor: It is a challenge, but it’s also a blessing if you have a little humility and a really thick skin. The design of Axure is in constant iteration, and our customers are a huge part of that process. Internally, we have a very open design process. From early concepts through each design iteration, we’re constantly getting internal feedback, and no one’s pulling any punches. If a design makes it through our team, I can feel pretty confident that it’s a solid starting point. From there, we listen carefully to customers and keep iterating.
Peter: How is the Axure team organized?
Victor: All but one of our team is colocated in our San Diego office. We’re organized into four teams: development, marketing, customer support, and operations. Each team has a manager to make sure things are running smoothly, but otherwise, it’s a flat structure. We try to make sure everyone is doing what they’re best at and that everyone is doing something essential.
Peter: One of the most impressive things about Axure is the community that has developed around it. There are forums and AxureWorld, and some books have been written about Axure. How do you nurture and work with that community?