5 Free User Experience Design Tools

Trying to improve your website but your organisation has no budget to buy you the latest shiny piece of software? Here are some free tools to help you get things done through the recession:

  • If your team is geographically spread, you’ll know that sharing screenshots and videos of interactions is essential for communicating your design ideas. Jingis a free screenshot and video recording tool and can even upload your screenshots directly toScreencast.com, an online service perfect for sharing design materials with your colleagues or clients.
  • The Pencil Project is a free wireframing tool that works as a plugin for the popular Firefox web browser. This means you can easily and quickly install it on any computer that runs Firefox, so everyone can view and edit your wireframes. It also comes with lots of pre-defined objects for mocking up desktop applications for Windows and Linux.
  • Although the full version isn’t free, the Balsamiq Mockups wireframing tool also offers a limited free version that can be accessed from any web browser. It takes moments to create a simple mockup and download it as a PNG image, ready to share and discuss.
  • It’s sometimes helpful to visualise small changes to a website, such as changing the size and colour of a heading or rewording some text. You can easily do this using Firebug, a Firefox extension that allows you among others to click on parts of a webpage and change them on the fly.
  • Finally, a lot of wireframes start on paper, and instead of buying generic graph paper notebooks, try downloading the Konigi graph paper PDF files and print your own paper with layouts optimised for wireframe design.

We often use most of the above tools in Webcredible, but we’d also love to hear your experiences if you try them. Feel free to leave your comments below, and do let us know if you’ve used any other exciting free tools!

Photo credit:  Svadilfari via Flickr/Creative Commons

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