New (Free) Tool Review: Balsamic Mockups

5 Apr

Okay, here’s the 30-second pitch on Balsamiq Mockups, the new tool that is changing the way I communicate ideas with… everyone!  I did a demonstration of Mockups at March’s Cause Communications Community Meetup in Berkeley. Balsamiq Mockups allows you to quickly create a “sketch” of a complex idea or concept that you need translated into another format. Currently I’m working with a two web developers, two graphic designers and an app developer for a project for my organization. I needed a simple way to create “wireframes” or mockups of what I needed. In the past I had create word document narratives of what I wanted (shudder!) as well as physical sketches and even Adobe Photoshop files to communicate my ideas. Needless to say, these strategies were time consuming and often resulted in non-ideal outcomes.

Now that I have Balsamic Mockups, which is free for non-profits and other do-gooders, I can easily create a PDF that shows the functionality and organization that I need for a webpage. For the app we are working on, I used Balsamic to create a screenflow and functionality sketch for my app developers.

You can see below a screenshot of the “Dashboard” I mocked up and the dashboard that our web developer created. Next the web designer is going to have at it to pretty-fy what our developer has created.

The only challenge that I see with Balsamiq Mockups is that it can stifle the designers creativity a little bit, so use it with a grain of salt! But I find it to be a useful tool for making communication with designers much more efficient and effective.

Get Balsamiq for free: http://support.balsamiq.com/customer/portal/articles/105924. Here’s their policy (it’s pretty simple):

If you are a do-gooder of any sort (non-profit, charity, open-source contributor, you get the idea), email us with a short blurb and we’ll send you a license, FREE of charge.

Go forth and mockup!

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