About two months ago, I wrote to Valerie at Balsamiq, and asked for a product licence for an app I started hearing a lot about, called Mockups. Mockups is a lightweight tool for designing wireframes; the blueprints we make before constructing an application. In return for the licence, I agreed to write an honest, objective review.
When I finally felt I had used the app enough to write something decent, I spent nearly an hour digesting the Balsamiq website, which is refreshingly full of information, and not just copy. What I discovered is that the characteristics that make Mockups outstanding are reflected in the company that makes it. This is software for the people, by the people.
I'm not a programmer. But because I run a technology start up, I find myself responsible for fulfilling many roles. And this is the amazing thing about Mockups: it allowed me to find my voice in the process of developing software, and to take an active role in the interaction, information, and user experience design of the application we're building. Before Mockups, I could suggest changes and provide verbal feedback. After Mockups, I could contribute in a much more meaningful way. It gave me the power to articulate my thoughts and bring them to life. You can't get a much better review than that.
Mockups works because it's simple. It is the most advanced yet acceptable solution to the problem: It is too difficult and complex to create agile wireframes for designing applications. I had experimented with different apps with more advanced feature sets, and I didn't get as much out of them as I get out of Mockups. I see a trend in the best software and applications being used today: build less, build simpler, and build better: Mockups is a perfect example of this trend in action.
I'll go even further and say that Mockups influences the software we make. This is because the flexibility that this tool gives us allows us to iterate more often, and receive more feedback faster. Integrating Mockups into our design process is improving our ideas, and therefore improving the software we produce. Mockups is, in my opinion, the most agile wireframe software I've seen, and by that I mean it facilitates agility inside our company.
Instead of doing a full break-down of all of the features inside Mockups, I'd prefer to send you to their website, which does a much better job explaining what it does. But I will mention that its integration with Dropbox is a delighting feature, which allows us to collaborate across wireframes in near real-time. I look forward to their web-based release of the software, which I'm sure will stir more than a few feathers.
And here's the icing on the cake: Balsamiq as a company is inspiring us to pursue our dreams. They are proving that a small, independent company can sell an amazing product successfully, while maintaining their core values, staying small, being green, and not trying to take over the world. But I think they will end up dominating this space, in spite of their humility.
So, from Big Bang to Balsamiq, you have our full support. We love your product, we use it all the time, and we consistently recommend it to anyone working in our industry. It is changing and improving the way we and our peers develop software, and for that you should be commended over and over again. Keep up the great work, we look forward to seeing what you have in store for us next.