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Gregory Wolanski is an active writer about UX and recently published an article about his use of Balsamiq called "When and how I use Balsamiq". In it, he calls Balsamiq "an elegant digital napkin."
The post focuses on how it can be used to quickly sketch out alternate views for design proposals without getting hung up on unimportant details. Gregory writes "I can use the time I would spend on exploring 3 approaches in high fidelity to explore 7 paths in Balsamiq."
Read the full post here.
He also writes about what he's learned working in the non-profit sector for NGOs and other organizations, including a fascinating reflection called "How To Responsibly Help NGOs with Technology".
Read on for our interview.
I’m a designer.
I work in more than one industry, because I work in client services. It can be said that, at least until the end of the year, I work in the non–profit sector. Until recently, for over 2 years, I mainly worked in telecommunications. In the meantime, I also took part in projects for the healthcare, consumer products, and household goods industries.
I’m excited about how much can be done by one designer. For 1.5 years, I helped one non-governmental organization after hours pro bono. At that time, I was able to help feed $10,000 (40,000 PLN) into the foundation's bank account, increase the traffic on the website by 21 times, and pay off some of the organization's technological debt. Nowadays, more single designers than ever in history can have a huge impact on the world around them.
Also, I’m delighted with initiatives like UX for Change and FreeCodeCamp.
(Note: Gregory is currently looking for open source projects in need of design help. If you know of any, contact him here.)
I don’t know what success is or if I’m in a position to give people suggestions.
The thing that helped me to get to a place where I’m satisfied as a designer: embracing the chaos. People are messy, you can’t A/B test everything, and that’s OK. Know that.
If you haven’t done so yet, read Design is a job.
Oh, and just in case you want to help out in the non-profit sector using technology, I wrote four articles about that.
I have a client who once said, “I don’t know what are you talking about; for me, balsamico is a condiment; that’s all I know”. For me, Balsamiq Mockups is an elegant digital napkin.
I use Balsamiq Mockups because it makes me a better designer and a better communicator. It allows me to explore seven approaches in my design process in the time I could explore three paths in high fidelity. It makes it easier for me to help some of my clients – we collaborate more closely when they don’t feel intimidated by pixel–perfect visualizations.
On the subject of "how," I wrote a whole article about when and how I use Balsamiq Mockups.
No. And I think that’s a good thing. You don’t have to be a power user to consider Balsamiq fast, easy, and efficient.
Some wireframes and their eventual implementations.
When I was a teenager, I spent my entire life savings on an Apple iMac G5 20”. I thought it would allow me to be as cool and professional as Douglas Bowman, Jon Hicks, and Jeffrey Zeldman. During the three months following the purchase, after realizing that hardware doesn’t give people superpowers, I keep asking myself, "What have you done? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" I learned my lesson the hard way: You can’t buy everything.
I tried to build a company in my early 20s — full time, without capital. That was impossible for me, even though it was meant to be a client services company. I learned that, without capital, I can only try to build a company after hours.
On the other hand, a few years ago, I wanted to help an NGO. I approached it very thoughtlessly. I wasted a few people’s time, suffered disgrace, and endured a moral hangover for a long time. However, mistakes provide opportunities to learn. I took the opportunity and swapped the failure for the most mature design project in my portfolio. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
Yeah, I’m good at making mistakes. I’ve made a lot of them. I’m still making a lot of them. I’m ashamed of some of them, but that’s the price you pay for taking action.
Recently, I needed to visualize the information architecture of a large website in my day job with a fellow designer. Ad hoc, we used Coggle for this purpose, but I’m convinced that there must be a better tool for this task (not necessarily mind–mapping software or OmniGraffle). If you read this and think, “It’s clear that there is a better way!”, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m happy with the UX tools I use at work today. As William Gibson once said, "The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed." Tools such as React, GraphQL, and Tachyons allow me to design and iterate quickly in my browser, using real (or as close to real as possible) data. I like it. The only problem that I see with it is the time required by UX tools to transfer thoughts to the screen. However, it will take some time before computers start reading our minds.
I subscribe to a lot of podcasts (see what I listen to) and newsletters (t12t Accessibility, UI Animation, Sketch App Sources, Jeff Gothelf’s newsletter, and more).
I’m always in the middle of a book. Right now I’m reading On Writing Well.
I follow Chelsea Tang, Jane Portman, Mike Monteiro, and Adam Hoscilo.
Last but not least, I agree with Sofia Terzidou: A good ol’ bicycle ride is always refreshing!
Thank you, Gregory. Very insightful!
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