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Balsamiq - Software and Website Mockup App (balsamiq.com)
62 points by tortilla on July 7, 2008 | hide | past | favorite | 33 comments

Hi. Peldi here (the guy behind Balsamiq Mockups). Thanks everyone for the feedback, and thanks tortilla for posting the link here.

Mistone - thanks. I am not planning to offer a subscription model right now, reasons here: http://www.balsamiq.com/blog/?p=59

snprbob86 - I also like drawing on a whiteboard. After using Mockups for a while though, it has become my favorite way to prototype my UI ideas, I find it to be faster and more flexible than paper, and the results are clearer (sometimes you only understand a paper prototype if you were present during its creation). Of course, I am biased, but I have heard others feel the same way about Mockups. In other words, when I only have paper and pencil, I miss Mockups.

- JimEngland: polish in a mockup is the enemy of usability. People get attached to gradients, icons and whatever element is more polished in a mockup and forget to think about what really mattes, which is the layout and choice of controls. Mockups is designed to feel like paper, but be collaborative (via wikis) and immediately digital.

- tortilla: collaboration/interaction is enabled in the wiki version of Mockups. I have a sticky note and callout controls that can be used for commenting, and I am planning on adding more meta-controls like this in the next few days.

- nirmal: I tried to offer only the functionality that made sense and nothing more. Of course, my judgment could have been wrong. What controls don't behave as you expected, aside from the Calendar?

- mmelin: yes, I'm not super happy with my home page either. The problem is that I'm selling different versions of the same product, each priced very differently from each other. I'll work on it more.

Again, thanks a lot for the feedback, keep it coming! I'm @balsamiq on Twitter or you can contact me at peldi@balsamiq.com

Cool stuff!

It was near impossible to figure out how to GET it. Download it, buy it, etc.

You don't have to be cheesy about it, but every page should give the user an option to convert... i.e. ASK FOR THE SALE.

I have updated a couple of pages with more direct links to buy the product. Hopefully it will help some.


The happy face on this mockup is made of win.

@Peldi - v. reasonable reasons for not doing a hosted version. I feel like doing 3 versions at different price point and platforms is even more work then one hosted option, but thats just my opinion. I also believe this would be way easier for customers, especially non-designers that want to do mockups before going to a design shop. clear mockups done by the client are super helpful starting points in the design process and save clients money/reduce project time / and increase probability of client getting what they want the first time from designers. There are all perspectives from a potential user group, not the company of course, but I hope they are helpful to mention.

It's true that I am trying to do a lot by porting Mockups to multiple Web Office platforms, but the revenue potential is very clear if I market my products that way (a lot more clear than doing a hosted solution, at least in my mind). And as a one-person, bootstrapped company, I have to go where I see revenue first.

As for your use-case, I think it's a definitely important one, and that's why I offer Export to PNG and export to XML even in the free web version. I believe a non-technical client could take a stab at creating a Mockup, export it and send it to the designer/developer without too much effort. Sure having a twitpic or skitch-like page for commenting would be nice...I just don't have the bandwidth for it...yet. :)

This is excellent and a very useful tool that does exactly what many of the leading design agencies already do in-house e.g. as shown in the 10min video at http://www.newfangled.com/web_development_prototyping_proces....

I look forward to using this tool more and seeing how it progresses.

The demo version is pathetically useless. Stops after 5 minutes, and you cant save anything.

A 30 day trial would be useful. Most people arent about to drop 80 bucks on an app after only using it for 5 minutes.

Any have any alternatives? I've used Axure for a while. It works well, but the aesthetics aren't great (meaning.. its ugly). Plus it only works on windows, so I have to use it through Fusion.

EDIT... disregard this comment...

Hi. You can dismiss the nagging dialog and keep working for as long as you'd like. And you can export the mockup as XML and save it into a text file if you want. I'll make the text in that dialog more clear.

Ah, thanks for the note. I'll keep using it. Like what I see so far!

This is a similar sketching application Pencil Project - http://www.evolus.vn/Pencil/ (previously on HN - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=234676)

You really should make the first page have a more obvious "buy now"-button. It took me a while to figure out that I had to go to an individual edition of the app (JIRA, Confluence, Desktop) to get a price.

I concur. I spent about 5 minutes on the site and didn't even know it was a purchasable product until i came back here and read the comments.

Hi. I updated the site to add more "buy" links. Hopefully it will help some.

What's the rational behind having some of the mockup bits be resizable and others fixed? The calendar and button bar are fixed while individual buttons are resizable.

I like the concept. The AIR desktop version feels a little sluggish. Sometimes when I drag widgets onto the canvas, the app doesn't add them to the page. Don't care for the horizontally-scrolling widget browser too much - it's clunky. The widget search box helps mitigate this, but we shouldn't have to rely on it for lack of a better system. I like how easy it is to customize widget content.

I'm partial to whiteboards for early mockups and tablets for digitizing more final mockups. I don't really see much value in using a tool like this for early mockups. You might as well use a real designer like Visual Studio, Flex, Blend, etc. and go to prototype stage if you are going to spend that much effort laying out controls.

I recently looked at a lot of mockup sites to design my site but none of them were easy and simple.

I finally decided to just create a bare bones html site.

I also remember seeing a canadian site a while back that helped in prototyping websites (can't remember name) but they too were too difficult to use.

Now imagine after you mockup an interface you could plug it into code and it actually works.

That's Apple's Interface Builder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interface_Builder

There are some (very expensive) tools out there that try to output code from your design, but they are incredibly complex to use. I export Mockups as XML, which, with some fancy XSL, could be turned in to MXML or XAML...which would at least define the structure of the application. Still, that's not the most time-consuming part of a development effort, but it would sure make for a good demo! :)

The nice thing about Interface Builder style tools is it doesn't generate actual code, it saves "freeze dried" versions of the objects. It's also free and very easy to use.

I think this would be more useful if the items looked realistic, and were not crude hand drawn graphics. If I want something hand drawn, I'll do it myself on a piece of paper.

Disagree also. I enjoy the hand drawn graphics. The ability to resize, rename, color, and place easily within Mockups is anything but crude. The adjective I've used in describing Mockups is elegant.

Yaw, as a guy who has done a lot of UI consulting I can tell you this--

the more crude your mockup is, the more the viewer focuses on layout rather than design. Crudity like this will keep people from saying, "what if we had rounded corners there?"

...and if you did it yourself on a bit of paper you would probably end up having to scan it in.

I think the look is excellent. It makes explicit to the client or whoever that this is a mock-up and not to be confused with the look and feel of the app/site. You can say that until you are blue in the face and quite often someone will say 'isn't that line a bit thick'.

Moreover sometimes designers can get locked into overly prescriptive design rough too early. This avoids that.

I agree and disagree. They probably don't want you to focus too much on the actual design during early prototyping. But they could have made it a bit more polished and still kept it bare.

Another benefit of this app is you can easily share your work (I know you can scan your sketches). But a negative is you can't really interact with it or make comments (Balsamiq).

i really like the idea/concept of the app, I've used iRise to do mockups and specs and was really impressed but the high price tag per license is geared to enterprise users so once my trial ended I was done. I always thought this would make a great web app with a subscription model, that would be very helpful to a huge small biz/consumer audience. not sure if balsamiq fits the bill but def excited about testing it out.

something that doesn't let me innovate is useless.

this doesn't seem it's going to give you any more power than the traditional IDE so why bother use it?

Mockups is infinitely less powerful at generating code than an IDE.

Its goal is to help you think about your UI (i.e. your innovations) without getting in your way.

It is designed both for developers who want to iterate on their ideas before firing up their IDE and also for people who might know about usability and software requirements but who might not know what an IDE is (product managers, UX designers).

The issue is that UI is not UX. mockups fail in real life. Just get your hards dirty designing the real thing than losing time desining mockups on pc...

you won't make innovation with a tool that constraints you to classic examples of user experience, whatever that is called mockup or ide

You should give it a shot. It does give you more power than a traditional IDE. The as-you-type search thing is genius usability for a tool like this and I'd expect to see it in Visio and the like as soon as they see how well it works.

Innovation often requires iteration and that's exactly what this is good at doing.

it's been a long time since I used an IDE for designing a UI. IDE is so last century, it's just for maintaining large code base.

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