Balsamiq Mockups: the good and the bad
Let me first say that I am a BIG fan of the balsamiq mockup product. In so far as the product’s design is concerned, they really hit the nail on the head. I mocked up an entire database-driven project based on the text-only requirements in about 2 hours. This included login/reset, CRUD screens for three roles and a reporting interface!
In short, the product makes it ingenously simple to design something (and I have zero design skills) that articulates what the user wants and at every turn you’ll find that they’ve thought-of-that and implemented it extremely elegantly. With one exception as I’ll mention below.
Perhaps the most important common-sense feature (as our designer astutely pointed out), is that, while it provides everything from a browser window to notation controls to iPhone controls, IT DOESN’T LOOK REAL. That is, it looks like a drawing. Hence your user’s will not come away from your design meeting thinking, as they often do, “oh, it’s done!”
Anyway, the only gotcha I found was the export feature. Simply, it doesn’t do HTML. In their defense, the team (likely of one or two people) just doesn’t have the bandwidth to focus on doing this well. So… they’ve partnered with some 3rd party folks to develop separate apps to churn your final design products into good-looking HTML pages.
They have identified a few of these products, of course, on their web site. The one I liked best was Napkee. It does a good job of exporting. Unfortunately however, it hasn’t been updated since 2011 and appears to be a bit short on full implementation. For example, it has a feature for including custom header content in the exported content which just doesn’t work as expected.
Anyway, Balsamiq is the Jam! In fact it’s either an client app or a browser app. Check it out for yourself, either watch the short video or try it online without downloading!