Life of a long time user... My feedback about Mockups 3


#1

Hi there,

First of all, thank you. I’m a big fan of the tool and use it every day. Makes me a more valuable professional.

You guys have a very hard task: designing software for UX designers. Good luck getting it right! So here’s one more designer feedback.

After long years with previous versions, I moved to version 3. Always eager to keep up with the latest and greatest I gave it a few weeks try-out. Here’s what I think you could have done better. I can sum it in one sentence: Balsamiq now has a learning curve.

  • Layout management is harder. Personally I don’t like real estate taken by properties panel, but it’s something I can get used to. Was the floating widget that annoying? No really. 70% of the time it could be in the same position across all my mockups because its layout uses the same container, either a browser page or a phone, in the same position. At least give me the chance to go back to it.
    The left panel is just a bad idea. You cannot drag and resize like before (I used to stack’em left, not default bottom), so no way to see the full name of your mockups. Believe me, the last part of the file name is usually the one that matters. Ellipsis don’t help here. And what about the tiny navigate up and down buttons if I hide it? Are you really expecting people to use those? It’s a poor alternative and not well designed.
    One of the beauties of Balsamiq was the white canvas. Now it looks more like other prototyping tools like Axure. It’s delicious brandng and even DNA you’re losing. It’s disappointing cause, as I said, I’m a fan.

  • You changed the quick add box from left to right. Should know better not to mess with something so delicate. I understand you want to place object-related stuff together, but it was a wrong choice. It should be even easier to access it and search for a component, btw.

  • Project notion is a good idea, but not that well established. Seems over-engineered to me. I would be happy just by grouping the +50 mockups sometimes I have open in some way. Each group is for me a project. Take groups in powerpoint thumbnails view as an example. Also having to open a project to grab a single mockup is not flexible. They’re trapped in Projects now!

  • Been playing with symbols Library hopping it was easier now. It’s not. Tried do import a symbol library and couldn’t figure out how. I’m dum just like any user. Sharing one single symbol or library across multiple projects is still not possible. I believe in terms of productivity this should be a priority.

  • The extended font awesome icon library is awesome!

And that’s it. Just a few notes. I will continue with version 2. It’s cool we can have them side by side. Allows you to improve B3 while users are still happy.

That’s all for now. Hiope you take some of my thoughts as positive feedback.

Thanks again,
João


#2

Hello João, thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to evaluate v.3 and to type such a detailed and caring report.

Answers inline:

This was something I struggled with for a long time too, but now that we have it, I have grown to like it. I like how much room it gives to the inspectors, I like its predictability, and monitors have gotten a lot bigger (and high res) since 2008 when we started, so there’s usually plenty of space for it on the right of your monitor. I would ask you to give it a little more time. It’s more boring, yes, but it’s also more standard, lots of authoring tools have inspectors on the right of the main canvas.

The File Browser in 2.2 was not resizeable, but we are planning on making the Navigator resizeable soon. We are also adding tooltips on file names and maybe make the font a little smaller, to help with the mockup name truncation.

How would you improve them? Make them bigger? The menu on the left of the up and down arrows feels pretty easy to use to me…

One thought we’ve had is to offer a CTRL+O pop-up dialog that lets you jump to a specific mockup by just typing some of the mockup’s name, like IDEs do.

I hear you on this one very much. This is a fear I’ve had since we started designing version 3. The thing is, we have to adapt to our market. We now have over 300,000 customers, we’re a very mainstream tool. Things that used to be “cute” about us are the ones that generate the most support requests. It’s hard, but everything must grow up at some point. Like I said before, v.3 might be a bit more boring, but it’s not about us, it’s about having users be comfortable with a tool that matches their expectations from other authoring tools (MS Office, Keynote…)

I don’t understand this. Why was it wrong? Why is this such a big change? It should only take a few minutes to get used to the new location. We also improved it a lot, try this:

  1. on the canvas, put your mouse where you want the new control to be
  2. hit / or + to send focus to quickadd
  3. type a few letters to find your control
  4. hit SHIFT+ENTER
  5. Boom: the new control will appear under your mouse

SUPER-quick, zero mouse movements required.

Again, you hit on something I’ve struggled with. Are projects too much sometimes? Are we losing the “let me show you something real quick” use-case? In the end, I don’t think so. Having everything be in a project gives even the quickest sketch room to grow. And if it doesn’t, there’s nothing wrong with a single-mockup project: the UI is the same as opening a single bmml in 2.2, and in both cases you have one single file on disk.

There’s a menu item and an icon for it. Maybe the cloud icon is the wrong icon for import?

We have plans for it, but we don’t want to compromise on ease of sharing projects. “Broken image” and “broken symbols” are our #1 cause of support request today.

This one hurts the most. How could I convince you to give v.3 just a little more time? I am confident it will grow on you, especially since we’re just getting started and have so many exciting plans for it.

Thanks again João, this is much appreciated.


#3

Hi Peldi!
Thank you for your swift reaction!
Will not go step by step again, but really enjoyed the flow you describe to quick add (especially + to focus the box).
I will get give it another try when you figure out how to show me the names of my mockups. : )
And one more thing, I don’t agree you need to hurt DNA because you have more customers. It will hurt more when it becomes too much like Axure at a glimpse (although functionally it’s not). Buying decision will be based on features and less on easy of use. That said, I understand the business case for it, but I’m not keen to the solution.
Thank you for taking he time to answer me in such great details. Even more impressed now.
Cheers,
João


#4

Personally, I am loving the new version. The project concept and “alternate versions” fit very well into my workflow, and keeps everything tidy and organized. Is it perfect? No. I think there are improvements to be made, but I definitely think it’s an improvement over the previous version.

One thing I’m finding myself frustrated with, is that I wish I could see a bigger canvas. Unfortunately, I don’t have an ideas how to improve this, except maybe to auto show/hide the left and right panes, to clear up the additional real-estate.