Even though you can do well with pencil & paper during the initial stages of UX Design, technology can saves your time and adds advantages which cannot be achieved by the manual tools. However, if price might be your main concern, especially when you’re just starting out, or the company you’re working for has tight budget on acquiring new software license, or simply is waiting for you to score that first project to get business running, then you need software applications that’s both powerful, and free. Tough picks? Surely, but amazingly such great application exists! And here are my favourite choices:

  1. XMind
    When you need to brainstorm for ideas, develop mind maps, or simply drafting the task flow or document IA, XMind is a wonderful tools. Equipped with easy to use, intuitive navigation, and very flexible structure, you can quickly harvest your ideas without having to think about the technical matters. Equipped with keyboard shortcuts that has good conformity to both common sense and widely used standards, making operating this app is a breeze.
  2. Pencil
    What? Electronic pencil to use with electronic paper? No it’s not. Pencil is the Add on application for Mozilla based browser (that mean Firefox included) that’s capable to do a GUI prototyping. While it might not be as powerful as Axure or other commercial prototyping tools out there, Pencil is surprisingly usable. With selections of available stencils to use, templating, and ability to export in either image or linkable HTML file, Pencil saves your time in rapid prototyping by offering templating ability, reusable stencils with common UI shapes (tab, drop down list, tables, buttons, check boxes, etc.), and easy operation. You can even use it to draw regular flow chart diagram.

Have any of you use those applications? Or do you have other tools you would like to recommend? Share your comments (or questions) on the reply box below, thanks. (byms)

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