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Nick Jones

CTO, Software Engineer, Indie Hacker, Gamer

Communicating Ideas with Mockups

I can’t stress enough how important a visualisation can be to a developer. It’s all very well and good piling on page after page of well written design documentation, but when a developer can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel it can be difficult to get motivated and the job done.

I’ve been looking for software to produce good looking mockups for a while now. I seem to recall some Microsoft Expression Blend mockup functionality being announced in “an upcoming release” a couple of months ago. I’d all but forgotten my forlorn search when I came across a funky application from the guys at Balsamiq Studios called, rather aptly, Balsamiq Mockups.

[caption id=”attachment_247” align=”alignright” width=”244” caption=”Magento Product Page Mockup made using Balsamiq Mockups”]Magento Product Page Mockup made using Balsamiq Mockups[/caption]

What does it do? Balsamiq Mockups allows you to create great looking screen shots of your proposed web page / windowed application / iPhone app drawn in a couple of minutes using inbuilt UI controls.

How to use it? I’m not going to give you a walk through on how to go about making your own mockup, there’s plenty of stuff on their website.

My Review A strong piece of software. Easy to use and very pretty to look at. There is a certain clunkyness about the interface that gets a bit annoying - I think it’s down to the fact that it’s built using AIR. Difficult to put my finger on it.

I’d like access to the UI controls to be easier. I enjoy the Quick Link box - maybe a hot key to jump there that I’ve missed?

I love the linking between different mockups and the arrow and post-it notes. With the linking feature you are able to make a click of one control jump to a completely different mockup.. thereby allowing the stakeholders to experience the interface instead of just looking at it.

I’m looking forward to see what these guys are going to do next with this - there’s an online version in the work which sounds very interesting.

I’d watch these guys closely. I think they’re on to something.