As I was writing the title for this post, I ran through many iterations before settling on this one soley for the purpose of being more targeted towards search terms. Here’s some of the runner ups:
- Mockups in Visio and PowerPoint Suck!
- Say goodbye to Visio and PowerPoint mockups
- Mockups in Visio and PowerPoint….Never!
It should be clear now just how much I hate Visio and PowerPoint for doing mockups. Neither of these tools were built for this purpose, so it’s no surprise that the process is awkward and usually time consuming. Thankfully, I came across a far superior tool a while back in a DDD post by Casey Charlton.
The tool is called Balsamiq and it’s pretty amazing. It’s whole reason for existence is for doing mockups – not presentations, flow charts or anything else. It runs on Adobe Air, so the installation can take a while if you don’t have this runtime on your machine already, but updates are free for life and come down pretty quick.
Balsamiq comes in 2 flavors, the desktop edition and the web edition, as well as plug-ins to some popular CMS and Project software packages. The license is cheap, only $79 for a single license and cheaper for multiple seats. The project file is saved in an XML format, so it can be checked into source control and easily shared. It has a ton of built-in controls to allow you to mock everything from Maps to Browser Windows to Grids to Buttons and just about any other UI element you can think of. The only downside is that you can’t make reusable components, which means a simple change to something like a header could result in hand-editing every mockup file you created.