Balsamiq – First Thoughts
Over the last year or more I have been looking for a simple, low cost, but powerful wire-framing design tool. On a couple of occasions I have worked on projects where Balsamiq was being used as the wire-frame design tool. I was always impressed with the tool and how simple it was to put together simple, low-fi GUI mock-ups. However, I wrote the tool off as being too expensive for my irregular usage due to it being used in large corporate projects – a mistake on my part to think that all corporate software was expensive and hence Balsamiq would also be so.
Recently I was working on a Silverlight project where the business analysts were defining the rudimentary GUI wire-frames and I was asked to provide some support on setting out the GUI design. After sitting together for about an hour with a colleague we had managed not only to define the static layout of a form but we had also added a considerable amount of the interaction associated with the form with respect to the button functionality and the associated sub-screens and dialogs. We then exported the PDF rendering of the form’s rudimentary workflow and attached this document to the User Story with TFS.
I was very impressed with what could be accomplished in such a short time.
Later I decided to look deeper, to take a deeper dive as we say these days, into the product. The first point that struck me was the cost of the product – I was amazed that such a powerful product could be sold for such a small cost. Finally, a tool was in my meagre budget. With no second thoughts I purchased to product without downloading the trial version. I was convinced.
Here are just a number of the big hits in Balsamiq:
- Balsamiq comes with a vast library of pre-built controls
- Balsamiq has an elegant, minimalist, easy-to-learn interface
- Simple and powerful shortcuts
- Balsamiq also lets you link different mock-ups together in order to create a simple prototype for your site or software application.
- Re-usable Symbols
- A wonderful community of passionate users.
- Property inspectors
Of course all products have their drawback and Balsamiq has a couple that make it difficult to use. But only a couple. For those interested I find that the lack of internal version control or support for an external product and the lack of a meta-diagram showing the linking between related screen mock-ups difficulties but not show-stoppers.
There is very little more than that I thoroughly recommend Balsamiq to anyone that wishes to design mock-ups for an application or product. I have used the basic low-fi functionality as well as using Balsamiq in hi-fi design mock-ups (but more to that in a later blog entry). The cost is very affordable and the associated website and support from Balsamiq as well as the community is excellent.
Just go out and buy it.
That’s all Folks…