Show Me Your Wireframes! (my response to Andy Budd)
Hi there. I'm not sure if my comment over at Andy Budd's blog got trapped in a spam filter or what, but since it was pretty long and had a request at the end I figured I'd post it here.
You might want to read Andy's post first.
Andy! First of all thank you for moving the discussion over to your blog, Twitter was definitely not up to the job.
I also want to thank you for your feedback on Mockups, it's exactly what I need in order to make it better.
Let me try to address some of your points.
First off, Comic Sans. I don't like it either. I spent many hours trying to replace it with another font (see this for the full threads), and right now I offer users of the Desktop version a way to switch it with any other font of their choosing, but if you read those posts you'll hopefully agree with me that I have no other viable option at the moment. Flash Player 10 includes much better font embedding capabilities so I plan to switch to a different font when enough people have it installed for me to require it, hopefully by the end of the year. That said, I believe that in the same way that details have no place in a wireframe, the font choice shouldn't really matter in them as well.
Next, the Mockups skin (which is BTW based on my wife's hand-drawings). We have three goals, which I think you'll agree with: remove detail, encourage feedback and encourage iterations.
To remove details we use thick lines because that way you won't have room for too much detail (see this for instance).
To encourage feedback we use hand-drawn elements which were intended to look "rough", not stylized or like Big Bird drew them. Maybe it's because I don't have a trained eye, but when using Mockups I don't get distracted by the look of the elements...which parts of it exactly grab your attention so much? If anyone reading this can send me some annotated screenshots I'd love to see them!
The point here is to offer a look that no-one is afraid to criticize. Mockups is almost as fast as paper and pencil (I've been told it's faster for some tasks), and is designed for all those times in which you cannot sit in the same room and use pencil and paper (like in the case of your client doing some initial brainstorming on their own, for instance). Wireframes created with Mockups should also feel like "they are incredibly quick to produce and destroy." I will be sending you a license for Mockups for Desktop for you to try, hopefully you'll agree that at least they are fast to produce.
As for the stylized look, I actually don't mind that the app has a little character. I think it's part of the reason so many people think that Mockups is fun to use (see here), and I think it serves a purpose: if the app is fun people will spend more time on their wireframes and hopefully iterate and produce better results. Also, Mockups was mostly designed for non-technical users, people who don't already use Omnigraffle, Axure or other tools.
I think the issue is that while I designed mockups mostly for brainstorming, some people use it for project documentation as well. For that, I agree that a cleaner, more streamlined skin might be needed. Unfortunately I cannot seem to find a proper skin that IA / UX experts all agree to be "IT", the best one (Konigi's excellent Omnigraffle stencils are the closest thing I know about). I would love to see some of your wireframes, or anybody else's for that matter. They are really hard to find on the web.
So if anyone here is proud of their wireframes and is willing to share, please oh please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I promise not to share them.
I have to run out but once again thanks for this post, I am enjoying this discussion and everyone's comments.