Create Wireframes with Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups is a wireframing app available for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as a new subscription-based web app. It’s designed for you to quickly and easily create mockups and collaborate with colleagues and clients.

You can test drive Balsamiq Mockups for 7 days, or buy the full version for $79. Let’s see how easy it is to create wire frame designs with this program and if it’s worth the price tag.

Getting Started

Head over to Balsamiq’s website to download the fully-functioning free trial. For 7 days, the trial works as if you had a full license. And after the week you can still use the app, but you can’t save your work.

Balsamiq is an Adobe Air app, which you may or may not like depending on your feelings about Adobe Air. I don’t mind Adobe Air apps now that I have a fast computer, but they were slow and cumbersome to use on an older, less powerful machine.

Designing Mockups

Balsamiq’s interface is extremely intuitive and easy to use; you don’t really need to read documentation or watch a tutorial before you dive in, even if you’ve never used a wireframing app before. The app comes with an incredible amount of ready-to-use components for all types of designs from basic websites to forms, calendars and mobile apps.

When you launch Balsamiq Mockups, you’re greeted with a blank workspace. Your toolbar is above the work area and you simply drag and drop components to build your design mockup.

When you click on a component in the workspace, you can edit the component properties, like whether to add a scrollbar, the color, and position.

Balsamiq Mockups - Adding a Browser Window

Balsamiq Mockups – Adding a Browser Window

One of the really nice things is that Balsamiq allows you to snap components to each other, making it easy to position elements.

Endless Possibilities

You can build just about anything with Balsamiq Mockups, from desktop apps to websites, iPhone apps and web apps. You can even create a mockup of a map website like Google Maps.

Bahoo Maps Created with Balsamiq Mockups

Bahoo Maps Created with Balsamiq Mockups

Your wireframe mockup is made to look like a sketch, giving you an overview and a general picture of what the design will look like, without having to put in the full amount of effort. This allows clients to feel more comfortable about making changes because they know it’s not a final product.

Collaboration

Balsamiq Mockups was built for easy collaboration between team members and with clients. You can add elements for feedback, such as arrows, sticky notes and the infamous red X. The import and export features are really handy and makes for easy project sharing.

You can export your mockups to images or to your clipboard to send to people who don’t have Balsamiq Mockups. Or you can send your mockup files so others can edit them, and you can even share them with services like Dropbox.

Balsamiq Mockups also allows you to import XML code generated with a registered app into the free online demo or open them in Mockups for Desktop after the trial expires. So even if your colleagues don’t purchase Balsamiq Mockups, they can still view and edit mockups created with a paid version.

Extend Balsamiq Mockups

There are plugins available to integrate Balsamiq Mockups with other apps, like Google Drive, Confluence, XWiki and more.

Balsamiq Mockups also has a large community of developers so there are many extensions to choose from.

Another good feature is the ability to reuse symbols and libraries. You can create tempaltes and reusable component libaries if you make similar mockups often.

myBalsamiq

Instead of downloading Mockups for Desktop, you can subscribe to myBalsamiq, which is their web-based app. myBalsamiq gives you unlimited users and starts at $12 per month for 3 active projects. The next plan is $24 per month for 10 projects. You also get 50% off the desktop app if you subscribe to myBalsamiq.

The web app is a fairly new addition. When I first discovered Balsamiq Mockups last year, they hadn’t announced myBalsamiq yet. I used the free trial to create some mockups for a client’s user account system. Now that I’m taking another look, I would rather use the web app since I have multiple computers.

Documentation

Balsamiq offers extensive documentation for Mockups, even though the app is so intuitive and straight-forward, you really don’t need it. If you get into advanced wireframing, the documentation may come in handy, but if you aren’t creating incredibly elaborate designs, you may not even crack open the book.

Final Thoughts

Balsamiq Mockups is an incredible wireframing app that will work for almost any design team. A solo designer can use it and share mockups with clients, or a large team can share a subscription to myBalsamiq and easily create and collaborate on complex designs.

While the price tag for the desktop app is a little high at $79, you can use your license on Windows, Mac and Linux, which is not something you can do with many other paid apps. Your license is tied to you (or your company) and not to a particular computer or operating system, and comes with free updates for life. I tend to like free apps more so than paid ones, but Balsamiq Mockups is definitely worth the price tag if you design wireframes.


Summary

Balsamiq Mockups is a wireframing app for Windows, Mac and Linux, that is designed for you to quickly and easily create mockups and collaborate with colleagues and clients.

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