Balsamiq Breakdown - Long List of Feedback from a UX Designer


Hi Balsamiq devs/staff,

I am a UX Designer that has been spending the last 5-6 months working in both the desktop version of Mockups and the web-based MyBalsamiq on a daily basis. Let me start out by saying that I really enjoy using your software and it has greatly increased my productivity. However, across my time working with the tool I started to take notes when I ran into issues using Balsamiq. Your company seems very proactive and I wanted to share my thoughts that could serve to improve Balsamiq, and possibly figure out solutions to some of my complaints. It is likely that some of my complaints are based around my ignorance about the software, so please let me know if that is the case.

I’m on Firefox 52.0.2. - Balsamiq Mockups 3.5.7 - Adobe Air Player: WIN 25,0,0,127

Usability Issues

  • Insufficient feedback (visual, audio) when clicking buttons such as: group, ungroup, send to back, send to front, or essentially any button in the interface. Hover events would also be very useful for all buttons. I think this is probably the biggest oversight in the entire application.
  • Moving files from desktop Mockups to MyBalsamiq is unnecessarily complicated. I want the ability to move single mockups easily to MyBalsamiq. It would also be great to be able to import multiple BMMLs into MyBalsamiq without having to import them as a project.
    — I lose any symbols that were added from a symbol library when going from Desktop to the web. I had to re-add buttons for 9 different mockups when I found this out the first time. This mean using symbol libraries across both desktop and web is not tenable.
    — Same thing goes for images, which essentially means I will always be manually making adjustments to any mockups imported into MyBalsamiq that include symbols or images.
  • When you select “Close” from an individual mockup in MyBalsamiq, I would rather it take me back to the read-only view of the mockup, instead of the Home screen for that project.
  • Make the Shift + Arrow key move the same number of units across desktop and MyBalsamiq. I prefer the unit size in the desktop version.
  • Can select size 15 font in desktop but not in MyBalsamiq. Would rather have more customization options than less.
  • If you are trying to align an ungrouped element to another element that is contained within a separate group, the grid alignment lines/tips sometimes don’t appear. It seems like sometimes they show up and other times they don’t and I have no idea why. Would be nice if grouped elements would show the grid alignment lines consistently.
  • Would be great if we could get bigger than 4k x 4k resolution mockups. I recognize this is an Adobe Air limitation.
  • When uploading images in MyBalsamiq, it would be nice if instead of automatically scrolling back to the top of the image list after clicking attach, it scrolled to the bottom of the list and selected the image I uploaded. If selecting a set of images, it would be good to select the first image in the set.
  • Similarly, when uploading images in MyBalsamiq, why do I need to click “Attach” after browsing for and selecting my attachments? Shouldn’t the Windows dialogue be sufficient to confirm that I want to upload the files?
  • Image quality is degraded when re-sizing imported images. I’ve seen this in other applications as well so I’m not sure if there’s a good solution.
  • Resizing images with the corner handles/controls and maintaining aspect ratio is awkward. Why do images seem to jump around while I’m trying to re-scale them? If you select multiple elements to re-size it seems like the problem goes away…? I am pressing shift while scaling elements. Sometimes it behaves nicely, other times not.
  • Line spacing for the “block of text” element needs to be provided, or the default spacing should be increased. The default line-spacing is much too close together, which means I end up using “label” elements most of the time and inserting my own returns which is super tedious.
    — Creating a table is a decent solution, but not a super intuitive way to solve the problem at hand.
    — I’ve also identified another solution of inserting an empty line with {size} tags to allow me to adjust the spacing. This is an effective but tedious solution.
  • In the desktop version, typing “para” into QuickAdd does not bring the “block of text/paragraph” option to the top, meaning you have to move through the list to select it. In MyBalsamiq typing “para” puts the “block of text” element at the very top. Would prefer both behave like MyBalsamiq.
  • The “lock element” feature should probably be surfaced in a more obvious way. I was using the application for months and didn’t realize that was an option until I googled it. Incredibly useful and frustrating that I could have been using it all along!
  • Sometimes I have trouble telling exactly what element the position guides are showing alignment to when I’m adjusting position of an element. Not sure what the solution is for this.
  • Why is &Text& the markup for underline? Why would underscores not be used for marking up underlined text?
  • In MyBalsamiq, sometimes the list of font-awesome icons takes an insanely long time to load, so I have to scroll down, wait…, scan the list, scroll down, wait…, repeat. This gets tedious after a while.
  • The bullets leave a lot to be desired, they are way too small. Would also love some other styles.
  • Breadcrumb navigation in MyBalsamiq is too small and harder to click than it should be.


  • Include adjust both sides function. In Photoshop, if you hold Alt while free transforming an object, it will make the same change on both sides of the object. Similar features are provided in applications like Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max. Extremely useful feature that I would love to have!
  • Provide at least one alternative font. Sometimes the default font simply does not work in my designs and having a basic alternative (e.g., Open Sans) would be very useful. I’ve had multiple people say the font looks like Comic Sans…
  • On MyBalsamiq, make it so that I can archive individual mockups within a project.
  • You can’t resize images with the typed input fields (in the Inspector) and maintain the image aspect ratio. I almost never want to change just one dimension of an image and break the aspect ratio. Being able to lock aspect ratio and adjust either the length or the height and automatically update the other dimension would be great. This would be nice for all Balsamiq elements (e.g., Rectangles) as well.
  • Rectangles with rounded edges simply don’t work well at small sizes. I would love to be able to set the border-radius for rectangles. Added bonus if we can set the border-radius for each corner independently (similar to Photoshop or CSS).

While browsing the forums in the past I’ve seen feedback to certain feature requests that goes something along the lines of: “Balsamiq is not intended to provide that level of detail, it’s a tool for wireframing”. I respect that you can provide whatever features you want, it’s your software, but at the same time I use the software in a way that solves my problems. The above covers what I think will work for me and make me more productive while using Balsamiq. While I recognize that “not-for-us” response might be applicable to some of the above feedback, I can’t help but think that being used as a catchall response for new (potentially powerful) features is disappointing to see.

Regardless, I hope the above feedback is useful and please let me know if there is anything I can provide further clarification on.



Wow, Patrick, this is great! Thank you for taking the time to give us such detailed (and thoughtful) suggestions. I have some questions and comments about all of this stuff, but before I jump into that, I want to give some context.

There is a significant UX difference between myBalsamiq and Mockups 3 for Desktop. That’s because myBalsamiq was the last version 2 product we shipped. After we shipped myBalsamiq, we sat down and rethought the entire UX of the app, and version 3 was the fruit of that labor.

The reason that myBalsamiq and Desktop can be cumbersome to use together is because of that UX divide. We have been band-aiding as best we could, but we knew we would have to go back and revamp the web app completely in order to make it more friendly. The result of that will be Balsamiq Cloud, hopefully later this year.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into it. :slight_smile:

Totally agree with this. I think this is something we have discussed before, but I think we should talk about it again.

This all should be better in Balsamiq Cloud, as both Cloud and Mockups for Desktop will use the same project format. The problem with myBalsamiq and Desktop is, again, those UX decisions we made when we redesigned version 3.

This is a good idea too. Let me see if there is anything we can do about it. I can’t make any promises, but I will check on it.

Both of these should be fixed in Balsamiq Cloud. Another victim of the rethought UX.

Do you see this in both Desktop and myBalsamiq? I’m not sure if it’s a Flash/Air bug, or if it’s on our side. It’s something I’d like to test in Cloud.

Balsamiq Cloud projects are 10k by 10k. And if we need to go larger, it’s going to be a lot easier to change in Cloud. This actually wasn’t an Adobe Air limitation completely - but it was super risky to implement.

Something I can talk to the team about. :slight_smile:

I believe this an Adobe Flash thing, but I can double check. As I understand it, the native attach screen tells the browser you want to use this file, and then the 2nd attach is the browser telling flash. I’m not sure there is a way to bypass that…but it will be better in Balsamiq Cloud.

Adobe Flex’s image handler only works in bitmaps. So image manipulation, and resolution, are not up to modern standards. There isn’t much we can do about this now, but Balsamiq Cloud is completely SVG based, so both of these issues will be better.

When we go back to look at the Block of Text, we will definitely talk about this.

The Paragraph/Text confusion was a pain point for users with version two, and that’s why we swapped it. We think it makes more sense to add “text” than a “paragraph”. That being said, why not both? :slight_smile:

This is something we could be doing better with the documentation. Or maybe a lock symbol in the corner of the inspector, when you have controls selected? What do you think?

I’m hoping this is better in Balsamiq Cloud.

We based a lot of our Text Markdown on Markdown. In traditional Markdown, underscores are used for italics, which is what we use them for here. We have made some changes for usability sake, but I think _ is associated with italics.

These should all be better in Balsamiq Cloud.

Added to the feature tracker - we will talk about it. :slight_smile:

You actually can swap fonts in both myBalsamiq and Mockups 3 for Desktop.

  • In myBalsamiq, goto View > Use System Fonts to swap the font to whatever the default system font is for your OS/
  • In Mockups 3 for Desktop, you can use the Project Info Panel

Sorry that this wasn’t surfaced better!

This is an interesting idea…I can definitely see the use.

Agreed! We will talk about it. :slight_smile:

Another thing I will talk to the devs about. :slight_smile:

Sorry if some of the responses are brief here, Patrick. Doing a point-by-point breakdown is often the easiest way to address suggestions like these. I’m also sorry if some of it became “it’s better in the next thing” but a lot of the issues you are having are issues everyone is having - and we hope we have fixed them with Balsamiq Cloud.

Thank you again for taking the time out of your day to post this, my friend. I look forward to chatting with you more about it!