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What is it?

Balsamiq: It's a tool that anyone can use for making web page mockups.

In the early stages of creating a web site, or specifically a web application, there's a period of time when you need to wireframe, or sketch out rough ideas for page construction and layout, without necessarily worrying about the precise design of the pages (i.e. colors, fonts, exact shapes, etc).

Balsamiq is a tool designed to help you do that. It has various "elements" or building blocks that you can drop on your page to construct your mockup.


Who makes it?

Balsamiq Studios LLC

Why is it the killerest?

In mocking up the screens for my current hair-brained idea, I decided to take Balsamiq for a spin. What I found was a tool that was delightfully easy to use, and rich enough to make me feel like I didn't have to compromise on what I wanted to do in order to use the tool. The unexpected bonus was that in perusing some of the element options it sparked some creative ideas for approaching my user interface.

Tip: on the free web version, when you’re done with a layout, you can export it as an image (PNG) and you can also export some code which you can paste into a text editor, then re-import next time you return to the site and resume working. It’s a poor-man’s “save.”

What could be improved?

I assume this is just a limitation of the free web-based version that I used, but I’d like to be able to have multiple pages I can work on at the same time – and a generic template I can use as the starting point for subsequent pages. There are workaround for this (export/import and delete elements you don’t want) but it’s a bit clumsy.

Also, on the free web-hosted version, you get a nag screen every 5 minutes. If you are moving an element at the exact moment the nag screen pops up, the element becomes stuck, and you can't select, edit, or move it. (Note: to work around this, I found refreshing the page to work – but do that with caution, you could lose everything, so do an export first).

How much does it cost?

Free for web version, $79 for desktop version


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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