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Andrew Rimmer's blog on software development and productivity

Mocking Jon Skeet

with 3 comments

I have been using Balsamiq (a mockup tool) a lot since I purchased it a few weeks ago. It had the likeability factor from the off, and has proved pretty useful.

Before using Balsamiq I had experimented with other tools but mostly I tried blundering and man handling applications such as Visio or Dreamweaver in to producing mockups. The biggest problem I had with those tools is that they got in the way. I spent more time trying to get them to do what I wanted, than I did brain storming, capturing an idea or mocking up a screen.

Balsamiq is a little different in that it is very specialised; it is designed to do mockups and very little else.

mockups_fpa_thumb

It has almost no learning curve to get started, and produces nice looking mockups. As a result it doesn’t get in the way, and you find more of your time is thinking about your idea or your page, rather than worrying about the tool

Then there is the produced mockups themselves. There is a great advantage to having a mockup that looks informal and almost hand drawn. Everybody who looks at the mockup knows its a mockup, and not the first attempt at a design. This means you can discuss more about the idea and how it might work than perhaps discussing fonts, and
nit picking about different elements.

I used Balsamiq to create the initial mockups for Ask Jon Skeet. It is probably an over-simplified example of how you might use Balsamiq, but even for something this simple it boosted my productivity. I have zero design skills, so I lean heavily on web designers when it comes to building a website. In the past most of the information I have given the designer has been textual or verbal, but providing a mockup of a screen can help immensely and is an easy and quick way to convey an idea more clearly.

An example of how the homepage for Ask Jon Skeet went from concept to design.

Before

Homepage_thumb

After

Skeet_thumb

Balsamiq are a small team, and seem to be pretty agile – they usually release updates each week. You can read more about the latest developments on their blog.

They also seem to be open to new ideas and suggestions. I am looking forward to when they introduce linking mockups, and allowing some sort of template inheritance.

Written by andrew

March 24th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Productivity

3 Responses to 'Mocking Jon Skeet'

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  1. Ask Jon Skeet + this blog entry = 5 more licenses sold for Balsamiq Mockups. Our UI designer has been burning hours in Photoshop with screen shots of our existing web UI so this will be a good time saver.

    Charles Feduke

    23 Apr 09 at 3:51 pm

  2. Love Balsamiq, was introduced to it earlier this year on an open-source project. The ability to change minds/UIs without wasting valuble man hours and damaging designers pride was invaluable. Good shout :)

    Ian

    27 Aug 09 at 10:57 pm

  3. Thanks for reminding me again of this tool. I first learned to know about it from Eric Burke. He wrote a valuable blog post on it: http://stuffthathappens.com/blog/2008/07/26/balsamiq-mockups/

    Michael

    2 Sep 09 at 1:04 pm

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