Recursos compartidos con Balsamiq Mockups for Desktop

Como sabéis y comentamos hace unas semanas en este vídeo de introducción, Balsamiq permite la configuración de un directorio compartido para los recursos (assets) de todos tus proyectos  a través del directorio  denominado “Account assets”.

Generalmente, cada proyecto mantiene una estructura de dos niveles como se muestra en la captura.

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Sin necesidad de configuración, los símbolos guardados bajo el directorio “assets” son accesibles bajo la categoría “Project assets”. De forma adicional a este directorio, Balsamiq permite configurar otro directorio para ser compartido no sólo entre tus proyectos, sino incluso entre varios usuarios si éste se encuentra en un directorio en red.

Para ponerlo en funcionamiento tendremos que seguir los siguientes pasos:

  1. Crear un directorio llamado “Balsamiq Mockups” en la ubicación deseada, p.e. “C:Documents And SettingsAdministratorDesktopBalsamiq Mockups”
  2. Crear un subdirectorio bajo “Balsamiq Mockups” llamado “assets”
  3. Crear un archivo con un editor de texto con el nombre BalsamiqMockups.cfg (asegúrate que es texto plano) y guardarlo en el directorio local de datos.
  4. Editar el archivo y añadir el siguiente contenido

<config><documentsPath> C:Documents And SettingsAdministratorDesktop </documentsPath><config>

Existen otras opciones de configuración que pueden añadirse a este archivo, como, por ejemplo, elegir el código de color exacto para los elementos resaltados o activos, la tipografía o el uso de cookies.

Con el uso de recursos compartidos por fin podremos reutilizar elementos generados entre varios miembros de un equipo incluso si éste está deslocalizado. Otro uso interesante es la creación de una librería propia de patrones, muy útil para mantener un mismo vocabulario visual entre varios proyectos.

Prototipar aplicaciones Windows 8 con PowerPoint

PowerMockup ofrece un kit gratuito (y otro más completo de pago) para realizar mockups de aplicaciones Windows 8 en PowerPoint en cuestión de minutos. También incluye assets para diseñar otro tipo de aplicaciones como sitios webs o apps móviles.

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Y es que PowerPoint es de hecho una de las herramientas más populares para hacer wireframes y prototipos low-fi. Permite diseñar interacciones, animaciones, crear tu propio stencil, etc.

Lo extraño es que no sea Microsoft quién promocione este tipo de utilidades sino otra firma, Wulfsoft de Andreas Wulf, en cualquier caso es más que bienvenido y ofrece una oportunidad ideal para diseñar con una herramienta a la que muchos estamos familiarizados.

Sketches or Wireframes 

Balsamiq 2.2 has been released with a stylish look & feel, some bug fixing and a new feature to choice how your mock-up will look-like either as an sketch or as a wireframe. But, is it the skin the only thing that matters?

There are some differences between these three terms commonly wrongly used between designers, although it’s also true that there are some overlap which may be the reason of such confusion.

Sketches

In the context of design, sketching is rapid, freehand drawing that we do with no intention of its becoming a finished product.

… sketching is a tool that supports the process of making, not the actual design itself.

via @uxmatters

Wireframes

A wireframe’s purpose is to communicate and explore the concepts that come out of sketching

via @uxmatters

So what’s the difference? Probably there’s no difference except the fidelity degree or the formalism of the idea. Anyhow, I think it’s a good practice really making a distinction and below I’ve listed some thoughts about it:

  1. While wireframes is a tool to think, communicate and explore, sketches are a tool to expose hypothesis, to let ideas born quickly and easily.
  2. As Balsamiq suggests, sketches look more hand-made suggesting also that the level of details is less than when using wireframes – I know you’re a great drawer but I mean with details not a fashion of art but a specification.
  3. Sketches suggests ideas to oneself, wireframes propose ideas to others.
  4. Sketches doesn’t need to specify concepts, interactions or navigation very strictly, but wireframes requires a good presentation of the visual language – ui elements, alignment, content design, navigation, and workflows.
  5. Sketches are forced to die after the exploration, wireframes could be our first deliverable in the design process.

What about prototypes?

Prototypes doesn’t need to be the evolution of a wireframe but a proof of concept of one of the many proposals designed it as wireframes. The goal is to test and validate an idea, and as sketches and wireframes, it will require to be polish up.

 

This is only a brief about the differences about sketches, wireframes and prototypes, if you are interested in this topic I suggest you to read the article  “Sketches and Wireframes and Prototypes! Oh My! Creating Your Own Magical Wizard Experience” as an starting point.

Other recommended links:

Should the Software Industry learn from other fields?

I’ll share with you an interesting reflection found in the book “Prototyping” by Todd Zaki Warfel regarding why we don’t expect prototyping as stage in the process in software development, regardeless the myth of the “return of investment”:

I think the first reason is that in software development, the emphasis is often placed on the development process and not the design process. The industry doesn’t call it “software design”; they call it “software development.“

In software development, design is often an afterthought. The emphasis is on the technology or features—not the design. In architecture and industrial design, however, the emphasis is on design. Form follows function.

Another reason is that software development is seen as a manufacturing process, but architecture and industrial design are seen as a craft.

In the following pages we’re introduced to the concept of Design studio, which is very common in other design fields:

In studio classes, you design or prototype and present to your peers. Your peers critique your work, highlighting the strengths and areas that still need some work.

Prototypes are not just a tool to communicate or to describe ideas, but also a work methodology, a phylosophy where sharing, colaborating and criticizing can speed up the process, prevent future failures and empower peers into trust and success.

It’s not a believe, fortunately I could check it by my own in my short experience, so the answer from my viewpoint is clear:”Yes, the software industry must learn a lot from other fields and design can help to lead that subversion”.