I started using Balsamiq for the first time yesterday and I have to say I’m really impressed. I will admit, I was very hesitant at first. I’m a huge fan of Omnigraffle, which I use almost everyday and it was hard for me to justify using another tool that basically does the same thing. What I found out though was that Balsamiq doesn’t do the same thing.
What I really love about Balsamiq is - it’s very, very difficult to get carried away with going into great detail. It’s a little bit like a cross between a sketch and a high-fidelity wireframe. Like most interaction designers I find myself getting very caught up in the fine details when trying to convey a concept in a wireframe even if I am aware of the fact that I shouldn’t be getting caught up in the details. Balsamiq actually prohibits this from happening because of the bare bones nature of the software, its simplicity and lack of features.
I’ve stepped into a project for only a few days to consult on how to organize - at a high level - a software application with tons of data. I started using it at the advisement of one of the developers on the team. They have been using it to quickly prototype concepts to show to client stakeholders and they wanted to be able to work with the assets I created after I left the project. Using Balsamiq I created a handful of wireframes in a very short amount of time that addressed a lot of major issues.
While I’ll also still use Omnigraffle, Balsamiq is great for those who are just getting into designing wireframes and really, really great for quickly prototyping concepts and ideas.
Two thumbs up!