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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Marina Zielinski <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 24 Jul 2009 13:10:41 -0400
Anne Deputter <[log in to unmask]>
Anne Deputter <[log in to unmask]>
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We mostly use Axure.  But here's an interesting link describing many other 
prototyping tools.



Free wireframing and prototyping tools for UX professionals

Balsamiq Studio's Mockup

Note: This post is a republish from an post on Strange Systems (my other 
blog), with some edits.

I am so glad to see there are so many more applications dedicated to 
creating wireframes and prototypes. A far better scene from a couple of 
years ago when there was only Omnigraffle and Visio.

Here's round up of information architecture (IA) and user interface (UI) 
tools for wireframing and prototyping, some with free licenses for 
non-profit use.

Free wireframing tools

1. Blasamiq Mockup - "Create software mockups in minutes". $79. Free for 
non-profits. Cross platform: runs on Adobe Air.
Lovable, easy to use wireframing tool that creates hand-drawn looking 
wireframes. Interface elements are nicely grouped, and support for iPhone 
interface wireframing. The output doesn't look professional, but who cares - 
it's a prototype. Online versions in the works.

2. Pencil - "a Firefox add-on to do GUI prototyping and simple sketching". 
Free. Cross platform: Mozilla Plug-in.
I loved the simplicity of Pencil, which looks as if it was a polished 
student project. Having said this, it has enough features to satisfy most 
wireframing experts who are used to Visio or Omnigraffle.

3. Prototype Composer - "Free prototyping tool from Serena Software". Free. 
Prototype composer is more of a fully featured tool to help you manage your 
team and software or web application development project. You can manage 
your project, assign roles and responsibilities to your team, define 
processes and create prototypes. Not really suited for low budget, rapid 
prototyping and testing.

4. WireframeSketcher - "Eclipse plug-in for creating wireframes and screen 
mockups". $75. Free for non-profits. Cross platform: Eclipse required.
I haven't tested this one out. It looks pretty slick, but just couldn't get 
over the barrier of having to install Eclipse to run it. I myself would go 
through the trouble, but I doubt most users would bother (it requires you to 
download and install EMF core and GEF plug-ins before installing the 
application. Scary.)

5. iPlotz - "Wireframing, mockups and prototyping for websites and 
applications". Free for limited use. $15/mo or $99/yr for full use.
Another excellent wireframing tool and one of my favorites in the list. The 
advantage of an application being online is that it allows sharing and 
collaborations, so you member of team can comment and even edit the 
wireframes directly. It has a very good set of features which include master 
templates, good library, full-screen preview, project management window, and 
simple task tracking. It also includes web and iphone libraries and 3 themes 
(Mac, Windows and hand drawn). Also worth mentioning is that it is available 
as a desktop application (Adobe Air required), which is very nice for those 
people who travel a lot and don't have a reliable internet connection.

Not-so-free wireframing tools

6. Axure - "Wireframes, Prototypes, Specifications". $589 for single 
license. Windows only.
I think Axure is the most heavily promoted in the list. It is by far looks 
the most professional and UX practitioner-focussed. What's nice is that in 
addition to helping you creating wireframes, it can generate interactive 
HTML prototypes for testing and specifications from your notes and 
annotations. However the price does seem a little steep compare to its 

7. & 8. Then there is the obligatory shout-out to Omnigraffle ($100 for 
Standard, $200 for Professional version) my personal tool of choice for 
which I personally developed a simple wireframe stencil. And then there is 
Microsoft Visio ($200 for Standard, $360 for Professional version) which 
also has good wireframe stencils.

Other prototyping tools

9. Protonotes - "HTML prototyping collaboration tool". Free. Online.
With a small snippet of javascript, you can allow your team to add notes to 
an HTML prototype you have already created. You can change status of the 
notes after reviewing them and also download the notes to Excel. Good tool 
for collaboratively testing and reviewing a site with your team or the 
client during the QC phase. You can also hook it up to a MySQL database.

10. Adobe Flash Catalyst - "A new professional interaction design tool for 
rapidly creating user interfaces without coding". Free beta. Cross platform 
desktop app.
Not quite a wireframing tool, but a interface prototyping tool for creating 
Flash based rich internet applications. The autoplaying intro movie is 
unbelievably annoying. Once you get over that, you realize this is indeed a 
very powerful tool, fully integrated with Photoshop and Illustrator to 
prototype interactions and interfaces without writing a line of code. And at 
the end of the day, it generates SWF files which you can have your coder 
polish up and optimize.


I am sure there are a host of other great applications for wireframing. I've 
even seen some information architects use InDesign and even Excel for 
wireframing. Please let me know if there are others so I can update this 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Marina Zielinski" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 11:37 AM
Subject: What is your favorite prototyping tool(s)?

> Hi,
> What is your favorite prototyping tool(s)?
> Thanks a lot,
> Marina
> ___________________________
> Marina Zielinski
> Research Scientist
> Pacific Science & Engineering Group
> 9180 Brown Deer Road
> San Diego, CA 92121
> tel: (858) 535-1661
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