Mac Gems: Balsamic Mockups review

Digital creativity tools are easier to use than ever. Almost anyone can design websites or simple applications these days, with the right applications. But user interface design is a more demanding and complex process than many people assume. It’s best to iron out problems early.

The professionals use a process called ‘wireframing’. This enables you to quickly prototype website, application or multimedia designs without building the real thing. Wireframing can be very simple, with prototypes cobbled together using image creation tools.

Then there are programs like Balsamiq Mockups, which make the practice even easier. With Balsamiq, you can not only quickly sketch page and app layouts using standard drawing tools, you can also drop in standard elements from a library of symbols. Text elements, forms and buttons can all be dropped into place.

That’s not all. Balsamiq also enables you to add simple interactivity to the elements in your page. For example, let’s say you’re creating a website with several sections. You can use buttons (or other elements) to link between those sections - so that when you come to testing the wireframe, you can explore it as easily as the finished article. That makes it an an ideal tool for designing user experiences, without application coding or the complex process of building a website.

Easy to Mock: Balsamic Mockups is one of a suite of tools, deployed differently, that together are the best set of prototyping apps you’ll find at the price.

OUR VERDICT

Balsamiq belongs to a class of wireframing tools, that can be accessed as an online service. Mockflow and Mockingbird offer similar toolsets but are less fully featured. There’s also an online application - myBalsamiq - which enables you to to design sites and demonstrate them online. If you subscribe to the online service (at $12 per month) the desktop app can be bought for a reduced rate.

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