As web design continues to grow, we seem to be bombarded with an endless list of client requirements that we need to adhere to.Some are interested in accessibility, some think they are avid designers themselves, most won’t take no for an answer.There are a number of tools available to help alleviate some of the production time associated with our projects. Most of these tools are battling for our attention and they mainly deal with the initial planning of a project or website.I’ve recently been using Slickplan to create simple site maps.
Everyone can draw a sitemap if they really wanted to, but why should it take an hour when it could take 5 minutes. Slickplan is really easy to use and, although it’s not extensive, it will quickly produce a site map that your client can read.The hole in between a sitemap and a design is plugged with a wireframing application. In the past, I’ve been using PowerPoint to create wireframes. The presentation is largely dependent on the library of elements at your disposal but again the process can be slow and largely dissappointing. It can be quite difficult to line elements up and even if you manage that, it can still look quite poor.
Recently my attentions have turned to Balsamiq. This application takes a fun approach and offers professional results. The final design closely resembles a sketch of elements and perfectly bridges the gap between your sketch pad and a finely polished Photoshop composition.The fundamental difference between using this kind of application is that the final result looks like it’s a sketch. There is no confusion with the client that what you’ve displayed or emailed is the final design. They will be immediately aware that this is a rough draft, merely illustrating where items are situated.It is also so quick to work with that you are able to ammend your design on the fly whilst meeting with clients.
This makes it the perfect wireframing tool around in my opinion. I now have my main tools that I use when planning a site, coupled with the software I use to create a site, now to explore the best post production tools on the market.
Please note, these comments are based on the free version of Balsamiq, a full review will be posted soon as soon as the full version has been acquired.