Who made the salad? Create rapid interface or web mockups with Balsamiq

Posted by maggie.hunsucker February 5, 2009

balsamiqTranslating a great idea, like a new web app or site design, into a conceptual prototype is no easy task.

That’s where a tool like Balsamiq Mockups steps in.  Created by a former Adobe software engineer, Balsamiq is a user interface mock-up tool.   It lets you create the look, navigation, and functionality of your new product without wasting development resources.  Balsamiq is simple and user-friendly.

Just download the free desktop client (requires Adobe Air , which is free and Balsamiq will automatically install it for you during the download) and start dragging and dropping the different controls on your work screen.  The service comes with a built-in library of the most popular controls – a browser window, navigation buttons, text, media player, charts, and more.  It’s broken down into categories, as well as a quick add feature (i.e. search bar).  Don’t see what you need?  Upload your own image from file or suggest a new control to Balsamiq.  Each element in Balsamiq can be manipulated through an easy edit box, with an unlimited number of “undo’s” and “redo’s”.

balsamiq-screenshot

The client itself is free, but you will have to pay $79 per user license if you want to save your mock-up or upload to another application.  The service does offer some unique ways to sidestep payment, so if you’re a current Atlassian or XWiki license holder, a do-gooder, journalist, or education professional, you can get Balsamiq for free.

User interfaces and usability have become branches of design and development in their own right.  Here’s a way to digitally sketch out the look and feel of your product or application without investing any money – or too much time – in the initial stages.

Balsamiq is written in BMML (a version of XML), offering easy duplication and integration with other applications. Balsamiq files can be easily integrated with collaborative software like Confluence or JIRA.

Balsamiq is what we like to call the right tool for the right job. Even if you sketch your interface design, it inevitably has to be translated digitally, and more often than not with a more challenging program like OmniGraffle. Users with no technical expertise can easily move through and master a service like Balsamiq.

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