Lately I’ve been putting more design thoughts onto paper. I used to try to prototype in HTML a lot, but it just got too easy to draw it out. I liked the feel of being ‘less tech’ when it came to mockups, etc. I was turned on to this program recently called Balsamiq Mockups. It is a software program that basically allows you to quickly mock up web/software designs using wire-frame elements.
I know there are other methods (please post your favorites in the comments), but there is something about this product that makes me like it a lot. My only complaint is the use of Comic Sans :-). The author has done a good job of providing a suite of draggable elements that would make up most any web site/application. I’ve been using it in design thoughts around my blog site here for Subtext, as well as other Silverlight mockups I’ve been playing around with.
What is cool is that the author provides several ways of getting individual licenses for Balsamiq. One of them is if you are a contributor on an open source project or doing work for a non-profit. The web site specifically states:
“If you are a do-gooder of any sort (non-profit, charity, open-source contributor, you get the idea), email me with a short blurb and I'll send you a license, FREE of charge.”
Very cool to see that kind of ‘giving back’ to the community. I wrote to Peldi and requested a license for working on the various open source projects I’m involved with and received a license very quickly (the licensed version allows you to save/export).
I find it to be a helpful tool in the toolbox for doing very, very quick mockups for thoughts. It exports to a PNG file so you can share with others as well. Share your stories of wire-framing and mockups!