In the absence of design / UX folk, Product Managers are sometimes called upon to create mockups. The tools I’ve seen fall in a spectrum from quick ‘n’ dirty to glorious but laborious:
- POP + pen and paper: the flexibility, speed and feel of pen and paper
- moqups, Balsamiq: speed and decent looks, but you’re basically stuck with their library of components
- Photoshop, Sketch: Maximum fidelity, but time-consuming and has higher learning curve
What I’ve been using of late falls somewhere in between the second and third bucket: PowerPoint + Powermockup. If you’ve read about Google’s Design Sprint, the concept of using PowerPoint / Keynote should be familiar to you.
Powermockup is a library of shapes for PowerPoint. They’re pretty up-to-speed – you’ll find Bootstrap components, as well as high-fidelity iPhone and Android UI components. moqups/Balsamiq is much simpler, but these are a 100x more customisable – they’re PowerPoint shapes after all.
That’s not to downplay the work the Powermockup team has put into these shapes. They’ve done some work to make sure most resize nicely; when I resize a dialog box, for example, the title bar remains the same height – it doesn’t just expand like how a regular shape would. There were some exceptions to this (the Bootstrap modal), but for the most part resizing was pleasant.
Where possible, they’ve also used SmartArt-styled shapes. Take the alert dialog, for example – when I click on the shape, a list of options appears, allowing me to easier change the icon or number of buttons:
Most of the components are actually groups of shapes – meaning you can tweak individual shapes as you please. For example, I can change the date in this iPhone calendar component:
Suggestions to the team – make icons out of filled shapes rather than outlines, so we can color them; I’d love to have some ready-made page setups to mimic common resolutions and aspect-ratios (especially for mobile). The resizing of some components are a little tricky.
Overall, I do like this tool! You do have to pay for it, but it’s worth considering. Check out their free trial – it has a limited library of shapes and components, but you’ll get a good idea whether it’s a fit for your workflow. I highly recommend it.