Review of 5 Website Wireframe Tools

I recently decided to review our website wireframing/prototyping techniques to see where we could be more efficient in getting from concept to code. We currently use Dreamweaver’s Site tool and/or Fireworks or Illustrator for mockups.

The follow survey highlights some new wireframing and mockup tools. My main criteria was having the tool export the wireframe to html so that we could upload to our own servers for testing and client review.


Their description: Drag and drop UI elements to the page, then rearrange and resize. Go from idea to mockup in minutes. Link multiple mockups together and preview them interactively to get a feel for the flow of your application. Share a link and your clients and teammates can edit with you in real time. No more emailing images back and forth.

Price: $9/month Basic to $99/month Expert plans.

Cons: does not export to actual html for a true click-through web schematic.


Their description: A GUI Design Software for clickable Wireframes. Fast and easy like Rapid Paper Prototyping, but completely web-based and with many more features. Advantages: Clickable Wireframes; Fast and easy Prototyping; Easy Remote Usability Testing; No Software Installation. Products & Features: Interface Prototyping; Prototype Reviewer; Remote Usability Tests; Realtime Collaboration.

Price: $9/month Personal to $85/month Unlimited plans.

Pros: has versioning. Online review tools with user commenting. Usability testing built in!

Cons: does not export to actual html to load a click-through web schematic to your own server or the client’s.


Their description: An Informal Tool For Early Stage Web Site and UI Design.

Price:  free

Pros: standalone program for desktop PCs. Exports as HTML.

Cons: does not look to be current (last mod date 2008). Uses our own handwriting to make the mockups.


Their description: The Pencil Project’s unique mission is to build a free and opensource tool for making diagrams and GUI prototyping that everyone can use. Top features:  * Built-in stencils for diagraming and prototyping * Multi-page document with background page * Inter-page linkings! * On-screen text editing with rich-text supports  * Exporting to HTML, PNG, document, Word document and PDF. * Undo/redo supports * Installing user-defined stencils and templates * Standard drawing operations: aligning, z-ordering, scaling, rotating… * Cross-platforms * Adding external objects * Personal Collection * Clipart Browser * Object snapping * Sketchy Stencil

Price:  free

Pros: Firefox plugin and standalone program (via XULRunner, but not for Mac). Sketchy-like look and feel.  Exports site as HTML.

Cons: Unintuitive initial screens; hyperlink fields have no obvious URL field until a new “page” is created within the document. No site-wide export as HTML without arcane steps to install a so-called “template” of some kind. Not ready for prime time.

Wireframe Sketcher

Their description: WireframeSketcher is a software tool that helps you quickly create wireframes, mockups and prototypes for desktop, web and mobile applications. It comes both as a plugin for your Eclipse-based IDE and a standalone application. * Create wireframes and mockups * Get quality feedback fast * Build better software * All using your favorite Eclipse IDE * 45+ built-in UI controls * rough, unfinished, hand-drawn look for your mockups

Price: Trial (watermark on exports), $75 one-time buy.

Pros: standalone program and plug-in for many IDEs. Very cool sketch look. Nice toolset.

Cons: No HTML export. Complicated to begin; following the tutorial is essential.

Pentalobular screws and your iphone

A reader posed this challenge: did we know what “pentalobular” was without using a search engine. Latin tells us it’s a 5-sided something. If you have an iphone, then you have several pentalobular screws.

Turn to iFixit to work with these type of screws.

They have an iPhone 4 Liberation Kit for $10.

iPhone 4 Liberation Kit
iPhone 4 Liberation Kit

How Egypt’s government choked off the country’s internet access

New Hampshire network firm Renesys reveals their research (pdf) on how Egypt’s government choked off the country’s internet access via its state-owned data centers. Meanwhile, a Columbia law professor named Eben Moglen (of the Free Software Foundation) launches the FreedomBox Foundation, to ensure one day that people fighting for their freedom do not have their voices silenced by corporate/state-controlled businesses. The Plug computer was built to distribute the hardware infrastructure of the internet to everyone.

What is Foursquare, and should I care?

What is Foursquare?
Primarily a “location-based social networking service” for smartphones and mobile users. Users “check in” to places they’re at so that their friends know where they are. The most frequent visitor of a place (bar, restaurant, venue) can become the “mayor”, and users can also earn badges for completing special tasks.

The point of all this? The service posits that the world will really care about knowing the most popular, “hottest” places to be right now. Companies of course will hope their venue is just such a place and can advertise to the hordes.

One new service aggregates a group of services:

It gives a gestalt view from: Foursquare, Twitter, Brightkite, and graffitiGeo.

When your sales staff is compensated based on deal size, not profit

Interesting if not obvious-in-hindsight complaint about Sun Microsystems by Oracle head:

More infuriating, says Ellison, is that Sun routinely sold equipment at a loss because it was more focused on boosting revenue than generating profits. The sales staff was compensated based on deal size, not profit. So the commission on a $1 million sale that generated $500,000 in profit was the same as one that cost the company $100,000, he said. “The sales force could care less if they sold things that lost money because the commission was the same in either case,” he said.

See Reuters article.

When Wisdom of the Crowd gets manipulated

When “Wisdom of the Crowds ” gets manipulated

YELP!, you’re in deep trouble. There’s growing momentum for a class-action lawsuit against the review website. And Yelp co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman is dismissive of complaints. It adds up to a major blow for hubris.

The lawsuit alleges that Yelp runs an extortion scheme in which the company’s employees call businesses demanding monthly payments, in the guise of “advertising contracts,” in exchange for removing or modifying negative reviews appearing on the website. The plaintiff, a veterinary hospital in Long Beach, California, asked that Yelp remove a false and defamatory review from the website. In response, as set forth in the lawsuit, Yelp refused to take down the review. Instead, the company’s sales representatives repeatedly contacted the hospital and demanded a roughly $300 per-month payment in exchange for hiding or removing the negative review. Similar examples of Yelp’s unscrupulous sales practices have been widely documented in the press, including in The Wall Street Journal, The San Jose Mercury, and a series of articles recently appearing in The East Bay Express.


and read more at BusinessWeek. The article quotes how “Yelp’s revenue comes from restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that typically pay $300 a month to advertise on the site, which 25 million people visit each month, according to research service Compete. It’s a promising model.”

This is why our will never sell ads on its website — if the subjects of your content (wine lovers, makers and sellers, in our case) are also its primary source of advertising, the conflicts of interest are bound to appear.