Using Balsamiq in the Enterprise
Today's champion is Floyd Price. He is one of the founders of a company called Code Spaces. He wrote an article called "Using Balsamiq Mockups in the Enterprise" about how he was able to break conventions in a traditionally rigid environment, Enterprise software development, using Balsamiq Mockups.
In his article, he summarizes the typical waterfall process used for Enterprise software and how the complete design is usually delivered up front and "locked in" from that point forward. He then describes how he worked within the existing system to create change simply by swapping out Balsamiq Mockups for more conventional, visually-rich design screens and specifications.
He explains how eliminating the visual distraction from a design allows people to focus more on the functionality, workflow, and real usefulness of the product. He then goes on to test this hypothesis by staging an experiment where he presented the same design concepts created with two different design tools (Balsamiq Mockups and Visio) to two different groups of reviewers and comparing the results.
Here's what he found:
...every person who reviewed the Visio version had no feedback on the UI mockups: no suggestions, no insights to missing functionality, ...nothing! In contrast, the reviewers who saw the Balsamiq mockups had an abundance of feedback: "Will I be able to click on that row?," "Can you add a search box up there?," "Should we split that into two screens?," "How about an admin section?," etc...
The Visio mockups gave the impression that the design was fixed and final and the reviewers were unable to imagine it any other way; whereas Balsamiq offered little to none of this and allowed reviewers to think about customers actually using it, screen-by-screen, and whether it would meet their needs.
Floyd sums it up this way...
...the subtle negativity the reviewers had for the visual aspect of the [Visio] mockup, combined with the disclaimer about commenting about it practically paralyzed them and stopped them from given any constructive feedback.
The take-away? Floyd says it best...
By using a Balsamiq, reviewers were able to detach themselves from the visuals, and concentrate solely on the functionality. As a result, the project design phase received more feedback and went through more iterations before it was approved. ...features and requirements that would have previously been missed are now captured, and the project has a greater chance of succeeding because it's now trying to deliver features the customer actually wanted.
To put this all into context, Balsamiq, a tool that costs just $79, has improved the chances of success of a multi-million dollar project... think about it.
Thanks, Floyd, for sharing your expertise with the community!
Do you have a story to share about the awesome things you do with Balsamiq? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories or blog posts!