Software Smackdown: Balsamiq vs Keynote vs Omnigraffle vs InVision

  • Balsamiq Mockups for Desktop, Version 2.2.19
  • Keynote 6.1
  • Omnigraffle 6 Pro
  • InVision (cloud platform, 03-19-14)

Today I focused on creating the same low-fidelity iPhone 5 prototype in 4 different applications: Balsamiq, Keynote, Omnigraffle and InVision.

My end product was a login for an e-commerce store.  By developing the same clickable prototype in all 4 softwares, I was able to getter a richer understanding about which one(s) I want to fall back on when needing to rapidly prototype a product.

Here’s what i learned …

• very quick & easy to learn

• have to drag/drop an image
• no mask abilities
• no layers (a workaround is to make an object “markup”)

awesomely simple and quick


• very quick & easy to learn
• simply hyperlink buttons (versus creating “hotspots”)

• no iphone 5 artwork
• no layers: using master template is less intuitive then using layers

also quick and easy to use

tough to figure out, but quite robust
• has layers
• has precise info on grid positioning

• doesn’t come with iPhone 5 stencil artwork (only iPhone 4)
• in preview mode, I got an awful hover highlight over the entire main content
• hotspot navigation falters when using masked artwork in combination with layers

robust feature set, including layers

• very, very quick and easy
• don’t have to mask overflowing content, as the software handles it for you
• preview is phenomenal
• comes with iPhone 5 artwork

• no layers – so you might have to merge some artwork
• resolution is confusing (uploaded artwork gets stretched)
• can’t edit device once past the selection screen

very simple for quick drafts, but tough to edit


inVision and Balsamiq: both are easy to learn, with inuitive flows and ready-to-go artwork; thus, allowing us to focus on the task at hand (quick prototyping, low-fidelity) rather than thinking about how to use the software

Web Forms as Conversations That Don’t Suck?

In the words of Luke Wroblewski, one of the leading voices in form design, “forms suck”.  In my opinion, they are the most often used and inconsistent convention in the web and software realm. For that matter, RedBeacon – a service for finding contractors – has produced a compelling argument for forms that are conversational.  The forms on their site gently ask us to fill-in the blanks, or select from the suggested choices.  By serving up these forms that play on the metaphor of the form as a conversation, they also succeed in creating a human connection with the user.  And that’s a big success in UX — when we can make a user forget, even momentarily, that they are interacting with a piece of hardware, then we (as product developers) have  taken a step closer to creating a bond with them. Conclusively, if our product has created a bond with them, they are less likely to walk away from that experience thinking “forms suck”.

conversational web form
RedBeacon’s conversational form