Part of the regular web development cycle is the user interface mockup. I’ve worked with many different tools including Google Sketchup and Adobe Photoshop to build representations for clients.
But nothing has been as quick, easy, and fun as Balsamiq Mockup, and online (and desktop/offline) user interface mockup tool for PC, Mac and Linux.
Desktop version is $79, but the online version is free, with some limitations.
I’ve done a couple of small projects for personal work using the free (5 minute nag screen) online version.
Here’s how easy it is to use:
- Load up the default ‘demo’ page.
- Press Ctrl‑A to select all default elements
- Press Delete to remove all default elements
- Start selecting and dragging in elements from the element bar at the top of the page (over 60 of them)
- Double-click on an element to edit its properties
- Repeat until you’ve got a mockup you’re happy with
Yes, it’s that easy.
With the free online version, you’re prompted every 5 minutes with an advertisement, but you can still save your work or print it out. Ads don’t get in the way of your workflow.
Developers have chosen a simple, look for the presentation because:
Balsamiq Mockups intentionally uses hand-drawn UI elements, so that people don’t get attached to â€œthat pretty color gradientâ€ or think that your mockup has actual code behind it and is â€œpractically doneâ€.
This lets your audience focus on the functionality of the item and is generally more open to honest critique (which is what you want at the mockup stage).
Some other features of the online version:
- Export to Human-readable text
- Import from text
- Integrated into Confluence, with other apps in the pipe
- Pre-drawn controls and icons
- Very easy to use
- Free 🙂
So, if web User Interface design, User Experience design, or website design is your thing, you need to check out Balsamiq Mockup.
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