Designing user interfaces with Balsamiq Mockups For Desktop
As a web developer, it can be quite time consuming to meticulously code complex pages with HTML and CSS. What’s worse is to invest a lot of time doing that and then realizing that your precious layout just doesn’t work from a UX stand point. Sometimes you have multiple ideas for a layout and are torn between which one to go with.
There are many software tools out there which allow you to create wireframe mockups/sketches of user interfaces. Some of these tools can be quite expensive and for a startup that is bootstrapping, totally out of reach. Well, not to worry. I recently got my hands on a very inexpensive tool called Balsamiq Mockups For Desktop which really increased my productivity as a UX designer (one of the many hats I have to wear currently).
Mockups For Desktop is based on the Adobe AIR platform. Once you install the AIR runtime on your PC, installing AIR-based applications is a breeze.
Mockups For Desktop is an absolute bargain at $79 a license. The user interface is really intuitive and I was able to dive in and create my first mockup in about an hour. The interface sports a toolbar at the top with all your UI elements. Balsamiq has done a superb job of creating a toolset which is comprised of the most common UI elements you are likely to need in designing your mockups. You can simply drag and drop any of these elements onto the grid-based canvas below.
The elements are very simple to position with intelligent snap-to-grid alignment. Double-clicking an element allows you to edit its text content. You can also modify and fine tune the properties of each element by using the hovering property editor that shows up when an element has focus.
Overall, I am very impressed with Mockups For Desktop. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a cost-effective way to design and layout user interfaces. It has become an invaluable part of my software tool set.
Disclaimer: I was given a free license to the application for trying it out and reviewing it on my blog.