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Launch HN: NextUX (YC S19) – Web UX editor and feedback tool for product teams
77 points by coyleandrew 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments
Hey HN! I'm Andrew, a solo founder building a free, easy-to-use visual editing app called NextUX (https://nextuxdesign.com/).

NextUX makes it easy to design your website or web app collaboratively with your team. Hacking a design together in the browser can be a much faster way to do this than making changes to a pixel-perfect file using professional design applications.

With NextUX, you work on your design in your browser, then share feedback and sketch options by capturing screenshots and adding comments and markup on top. You then share your iterations through a direct link. It is entirely browser-based, including an extension that does the screen capturing: https://nextuxdesign.com/screen-capture/. There's a video on that page showing some examples.

NextUX works with any existing website or web app and includes simple tools to cut up your currrent design, rearrange it, and add elements. You can also create designs from scratch and share them with anyone. You can pick permissions to control who you share with. And that's about it!

I worked as a designer in Silicon Valley for a decade at large tech companies and startups—most notably as Flexport's first designer. Through this time, I've seen how websites and apps evolve and how tools can help or hinder development. Current design tools are overkill for quick fixes, small features, and fast iterations. Digging through layers and nested components of someone else's complex design file just to explore a simple change takes too much time, even for experts.

Also, many design contributions are made by non-experts—people without "design" in their title. PMs, engineers, founders, and others have valuable ideas that should be articulated visually, but instead get buried in long emails. Meanwhile the actual designs are accessible only in expert editing programs. This is a tools problem! I want to flatten the learning curve of design tools, so everyone can visualize their ideas and share them with each other directly.

I originally went through YC in the summer of 2019 and was encouraged to pivot after running into considerable roadblocks. As the pandemic hit and the world locked down, I had a lot of time to think about the issues I've encountered as a designer. During this time, I helped dozens of startups by reviewing their UX and providing advice. I learned a lot about how these companies approached design and what I could build to help them.

My goal is to help teams create, collaborate, and communicate visually and make it all much faster. I like to think of it as "scratch paper for the web". Even with just 'scratch paper' you can get pretty close to professional-quality designs, made stronger by the fact that the entire team has been able to work on them.

There are free templates at https://nextuxdesign.com/free-resources/ that you can duplicate and use, and which are good starting points for poking around the product. They include a simple design system, web form UI, and card design wireframe components. I will be updating this page with more templates and resources over the coming months. Stay tuned!

I'd appreciate your feedback on the app, and invite you to share your thoughts and experiences on how to streamline design iteration and feedback. Thank you!

In an ideal world the Figma UI Kit would always be synchronized with the online site (color style, fonts style,...) But we know that it is not that simple :-)

The advantage of your solution would be to always be able to start from the already existing online version. But is it possible to create a UI kit with assets?

Figma does a great job on managing components and state variables. And I already wished I could transform a screenshot into an element composed of several elements in Figma.

Anyway it's a great idea and product.

The original vision for NextUX was to convert your website or web app into vector elements so you can quickly make design changes.

Since this is technically challenging, I focused on the next best thing, capturing a screenshot that can be cut up into pieces with the app.

I still plan on allowing users to convert live or locally hosted websites and web apps into a design files that you can edit. Hopefully, I can launch something along these lines in a few months.

I also would love to somehow use ML to provide suggestions based on design best practices.

I've written a lot of content on common dos and don't of design on Medium. https://medium.com/@CoyleAndrew

Some of my best articles include "Design better forms" https://medium.com/nextux/design-better-forms-96fadca0f49c, "Design better data tables" https://medium.com/nextux/design-better-data-tables-4ecc99d2..., "Form design for complex apps" https://medium.com/nextux/form-design-for-complex-applicatio..., and "Design better cards" https://medium.com/nextux/design-better-cards-c0d12ab581c4.

I wonder if I can program these best practices to provide suggestions as you design. Kinda like grammerly for design.

And some day, I'd love to build an app that builds designs automatically based on your thoughts and inspirations.

I'd love your thoughts on implementing something like this.

Thank you!

I would love to be able to generate a UI Kit by selecting several sites that I like.

This is usually part of the designer's creation phase.

It would be nice to be able to create your own UI Kit by selecting different choices of site inspirations, then choose what you prefer, dark or light theme, colors, do you want your sections to have borders or not, do you want a corner radius, do you change the color between each section or do you prefer a full page,...

Good luck

Yeah that would be awesome! I love the idea of creating a mood board of inspiration and the app suggests UI system styles based off of it.

I really appreciate your blog, and especially find articles like "Design Better Forms"[0] very interesting, if even to provide a nice check-list of do's and don'ts to keep in mind. Thank you for the articles you write.

For NextUX, while I may not have a need myself, I've forwarded the link to my fiance who is doing internships via MBA program – having a need for tools like this – and heard back, "this looks very useful".

Good job covering a lot of aspects of UX/UI, and I wish you the best of luck!

[0] https://medium.com/nextux/design-better-forms-96fadca0f49c

Thank you for your kind words. I am happy to hear you enjoy my design articles. Thank you for sharing NextUX with your fiance!

Congrats on the launch. Looks great. I’m going to use this in a pilot project next week and see how it goes.

How does this compare/contrast with something like figma?

The intro video is really solid and shows off the features well.

Thank you! I hope it works well in your pilot project.

In my process, I often hack a design in my browser first, capture a full-page screenshot and continue to iterate in NextUX to visualize new ideas quickly. I built most of NextUX this way.

Sometimes a new design can be articulated with a contextual comment on an existing design or a quick hacked together amalgamation of elements. I think good design is messy and evolving.

I've noticed that I become a perfectionist in other design apps like Figma and the design begins to deviate from production as things develop. It can be quite frustrating!

I remember many years ago using Fireworks, then Photoshop, then Sketch, and most recently Figma. With each platform I said, "I will never leave Fireworks" (2005-2008) "I will never leave Photoshop" (2009-2012) "I will never leave Sketch" (2013-2016) "I will never leave Figma" (2017-2020)

But I think Figma is a great product and I think NextUX can compliment it in many ways. NextUX is great for quick feedback or design creation based on what's already in your browser.

We use Moqups (moqups.com) extensively for quick scratch-pad designs. Moqups includes commenting tools and collaboration. What are the benefits of NextUX over Moqups?

The screenshot feature looks helpful, but taking screenshots isn't really a pain point for us as there are a ton of tools that do this for us and make it easy to drop into Moqups (including a Moqups chrome extension that does exactly this). If you say scrapped my entire site, took screenshots of everything, and gave me a digital copy to work off of, that would be interesting. Alternatively, if your design tools were directly embedded into the site, that would also be really interesting.

These are both big asks, and they might not be feasible, but the more you can close the gap between taking an existing site and turning it into a design space, the more attractive a tool like this would be for our org.

I appreciate your feedback! Thank you for sharing moqups. I haven't seen this tool before.

There are a lot of tools that do similar things. I think of the categories as:

*Design creation* • Figma https://www.figma.com/ • Sketch https://www.sketch.com/ • uizard https://uizard.io/ • Penpot https://penpot.app/ • UXPin https://www.uxpin.com/

*Asset creation* • Canva https://www.canva.com/ • Crello https://crello.com/ • Creatopy https://www.creatopy.com/ • Spark https://spark.adobe.com/

*Presentation creation* • Pitch https://pitch.com/ • Ludus https://ludus.one/

*Digital Whiteboard* • Miro https://miro.com/ • Whimsical https://whimsical.com/ • Mural https://www.mural.co/

*Prototyping* • Invision https://www.invisionapp.com/ • Marvel https://marvelapp.com/

*Feedback* • Markup https://www.markup.io/ • Pastel https://usepastel.com/ • Contrast https://www.contrast.app/

*Animation* • Jitter https://jitter.video/

And that just scratches the surface.

I've noticed that the apps listed above are often too prescriptive or too complicated. My goal is to create a simple tool that lets you quickly provide feedback and iterations on websites and web apps. I think of NextUX as similar to Loom but for design mockups.

In my workflow, I typically include a NextUX link along with an exported image in my product management software (Trello). I describe the changes I made contextually with comments in the design. Often, the design looks hacked together and incomplete but it's just enough to communicate a change. My focus with NextUX is to make the iteration process faster.

Hi Andrew: Great work and looking to try this out on many cases. As a PM, #1 problem is tweaks to existing design and simply re-arranging parts of it so I can share my quick review.. with this I dont have even to touch everything in the source, I could play in a test env or anywhere else. Awesome.

I agree!

I've often gotten sidetracked in design software so many times when all I needed to do was add a small update to the UI.

The process goes something like... 1. Have an idea or requirement to add a small tweak or feature. 2. Find the original design file. 3. Figure out how the file is constructed. 4. Get frustrated because I notice unrelated inconsistencies. 5. Forget what I was originally doing. 6. Realize hours have past and I haven't accomplished the simple task yet.

I am creating NextUX to make updates to designs faster and easier for more people.

My process now looks like... 1. Have an idea or requirement to add a small tweak or feature. 2. Take screenshot(s), update the design, and add comments. 3. Share the iteration with the team in Trello or Jira.

I hope NextUX enables non-designers to incorporate more visuals with their writing. It doesn't have to be pretty, but adding mockups to a spec doc, long email, or jira issue makes it so more obvious what is being proposed.

Definitely going to check this out. Our company was just discussing how we wanted to go about coming up with some new designs for the app without a full time designer on board.

Just to note, after I used the invite feature, the pop out closed, but when I re-opened it, the email was still in the field.

Thanks for giving it a go and good catch on the email field. I hope NextUX helps your team come up with some good designs. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like my feedback on what you are building.

Any chance to get a version for the users? Like an embedded widget that sends the notes to a dashboard?

I don't like the current solutions.

I like that idea! It could be a helpful way to gather feedback directly from your users and maybe could even function as a way to do support.

Right now, the tool is focused on helping creators iterate and communicate feedback on website and web apps with their team.

Ultimately, I want to create "the new digital scratch paper for the web." That vision would include both users and creators.

Allowing users to contribute could bring user-centered and participatory design to a new level!

In some of my design cases - some of the users are kind of part of the design team - well complaints, suggestions, problems tend to come from extended staff as well as thier customers.

I'd like to see something like jitsi screen sharing / recording, maybe via matrix.. with save screenshots to put into wordpress posts.. leaving room for comments and uploading more pics / video / assets..

I've looked into 'together.js' wihch has a wordpress plugin.

I've longed for some of that analytics software that records every scroll and click someone does - but not stumbled upon self hosted / non-third party version yet..

sadly many design things become printed pages with circles and highlights - haha - we certainly can do better, but not found all the pieces of the puzzle yet here.

Lately it's been screen sharing via video calls - but that allows only one sided move around the screen and such.

Thought I bookmarked some basic video making / screen doodle tools some time ago - but never got to use them.

So yes I hope this "the new digital scratch paper for the web." becomes a thing, and I hope it connects with other tools and can be private. I'm rooting for ya on this!

It is so much easier to communicate when someone can grab a screen shot and draw on it with basic tools - or send video showing where they got stuck or whatever on which device / browser they are using.

So true! Describing an issue on a website or app can be really difficult without a visual. And communicating a proposed design change is even harder without something to look at.

I'll explore how NextUX could fit the workflow and issues you described.

> I've longed for some of that analytics software that records every scroll and click someone does - but not stumbled upon self hosted / non-third party version yet..

It's there.

Have you tried Fullstory?

just scrolled over it - seems not self hosted option - so no control. While i appreciate the privacy things they mention, it makes me want to try to create sessions where privacy things can be inferred - although it says it strips private stuff - I can imagine it may be easy to agree that CC numbers and the like should be private - other analytics data which may mean nothing to the third party data house may mean a lot to individuals.. so I'd pass on it.

no big deal, they say in their terms they would pass on me too - "we just aren't ready to deal with the baggage" haha.

self hosted and owned on our own terms is the way to go, this one certainly is not it.

I agree. I'll keep my eye out for other solutions that match your requirements. Good luck!

I am working on one ( https://www.usertrack.net ) but the session-recording part works a bit differently than FullStory and Hotjar, as it only records actions, not page content.

I like this. My workflow is: grab a screenshot, drop it into Adobe XD or Photoshop and fumble around in those tools for 30-45 minutes until I get, roughly, what I'm after.

I just tested out NextUX and was able to re-organize a page in about 5 minutes. Impressive!

Congrats on the launch!

Thank you for testing it out! I am happy to hear NextUX helped you re-organize a page quickly. Sometimes people can't figure out the scissors tool but it sounds like you must have figured it out. I'd love to hear any feedback you have on how I can improve the app.

This is great - just signed up. I have been waiting for someone to solve this problem for a while. Great job! Excited to try it out.

Awesome! I appreciate that you're giving it a try. I'd love to hear your feedback when you do!

Hi Andrew, The product looks great and congratulations for your launch.

Thank you!

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