Balsamiq.com is a web application (that also comes in a downloadable software version) that allows users to quickly create mockups for web sites and iphone products. I was skeptical at first, but 2 things made me pretty happy with thier approach to this common problem.
The first was the choice they made to exagerate the concept of fuction over form. Their toolset, or stencils are purposly quasi-poorly hand drawn graphics that have a major lack of attention to detail. As the owners of Balsamiq.com put it, “it encourages critisism” … “so that people don’t get attached to ‘that pretty color gradient'”. The secod thing I liked after playing around with the app a bit was the way they decided to implement the editing process of these draft like stencils. Most implemetations of design toold have properties panels that allow you to change many aspects of a feature, but not only do those properties get complex but since you are given many properties you try to use them in various combinations and often times doing so has unwanted results i.e. certain border style doesnt work well with large boxes with italic text.
At balsamiq.com the stencils are all pre fab and standard, not much is expected of them other then being better then just a place holder. Content is, for the most part, the only thing you can change and they use a simple text edit box when that content needs to be changed. When you double click a stensil the data is presented in a markdow laguage. i.e. buttons that are hard to align and choose width and colors are nothing more then a comma delimited list in edit mode — (button 1, two, and three). When you click of the text box the buttons are created for you.
They truly stuck to the motto of just use the bare essentials and KISS paradigms to set the expctations of the designers and reviews while making the process of creating dead simple. Which in the end created a great mockup tool, allowig you to focus on what you shoud be focusing on ayways — workflow and content placements.
Give it a try @ http://balsamiq.com/demos/mockups/Mockups.html
3 thoughts on “Balsamiq, an interesting taste of things”
Balsamiq rocks! So much easier to use than Protoshare
It’s interesting to find how challenging the content side is for some
I love Balsamiq mockups! Use it almost weekly!
However, software UI tools don’t seem to solve the ‘first ideas’ or ‘napkin drawings’. For some reason, I can’t bring in software until the idea is a little more clear, since all UI software (incl. Balsamiq) only allow pre-set controls.
To solve the early stages, I use:
Very fun magnetic UI widgets for prototyping on a whiteboard. You should try them!