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Cool Critique – Balsamiq Mockups

Categories: Announcements

I've just started using a cool tool called Balsamiq Mockups and I am impressed.

Mockups allow us to communicate easily with clients, users, and developers in a visual way. Some people are handy with a pencil but I'm not one of them. Requirements presented as hand-drawn (low fidelity) mockups encourage the viewer to focus on the functionality and design presented. The viewer knows the final product will look different; deferring discussion about colour etc. until a more suitable time.

Balsamiq Mockups is a product that allows me to produce good, easily reproducible "hand-drawn" mockups with a wow factor. A simple drag-n-drop allows me to pull pre-built elements onto the canvas. I can also group elements together to use as reusable templates. Saving mockups as PNG files allow them to be inserted into documents as needed.

A replacement to Comic Sans is already being looked at. This will stop designers being distracted by a font they despise.

Some elements allow links to other mockups in the full-screen view, adding strength to presenting the functionality of a presentation. An improvement I would like to see is to have links on more elements. I got around this by adding dummy controls on the side to let me navigate around. As links were only enabled last week I feel good about this happening in the future.

Another thing I would like to see is for the ability to import complex user elements. Currently these an be made into images and imported, but images have limited controls.

Layering is the third thing I would like improved. When elements are stacked, I can only click on the front one. This is usually when I've added a container to a group of elements. If the front one is larger, I need to send it to the back to get the one I want to change. I would like to be able to just click through all the controls under the mouse until the one I want is selected.

I heard about Balsamiq Mockups last year on Net at Night with Amber MacAuthur and Leo Laporte. Checked it out at the time but never had the chance to use it. A project recently arrived on my desk that was suitable for me to use Balsamiq Mockups. I requested and received an activation key on the condition I write a review. (Thanks Mariah and the Balsamiq team for this.) Two other projects have already expressed interest in mockups of this style. I will be encouraging work to buy a corporate licence.

I'm hoping this will be the first review will be the first in an irregular series of reviews on cool tools, cool sites, and other cool things, where I can add a constructive critique, but alas I fear I'm more like a fanboy on this, without much in the say of constructive suggestions (apart from saying this is the tool to use).

Tags: mockups
By Brian Logan   Mon 20-Apr-2009

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