I’m writing this post mainly to test out the WordPress app for iPad. There aren’t any features in it that couldn’t be accessed through the browser instead (and many features aren’t available in the app), but it has a nice clean interface that makes it easy to fire off a quick post.
Portfolio & blog of web designer, illustrator & front-end developer, Noah Robison-Cox
In web design, wireframes (or user interface wireframes or mockups) act as the blueprints of a site. They define the information that will go on a page and how it will be organized before any design or coding takes place. Wireframes can be created in a number of different applications or even drawn by hand. In the past, I used Omnigraffle and Powerpoint for wireframing. Omnigraffle has a library of free templates you can pull from and Powerpoint is easy to present and share with clients, especially if they want to make their own modifications. Another popular wireframing tool is Balsamiq, which offers some nice collaboration features, but I personally can’t stand the way it looks, especially the Comic Sans font.
Within the past year or two, a number of online tools for wireframing have popped up. They offer the benefit of easy collaboration, since the wireframes are stored in the cloud. Over the past few months I’ve tried a number of them, including mockingbird, Hot Gloo, cacoo and MockFlow. Of that group, I’ve been the most impressed with MockFlow and HotGloo. Both have a similar feature set, and while Hot Gloo might be a little more advanced, MockFlow is currently a bit cheaper and it’s what I’ve spent the most time with. Here are some of the advantages I’ve noticed with cloud-based wireframing in MockFlow:
- You can chat and add notes to a wireframe while you’re presenting it online
- Older versions of the wireframe are backed up online as you save
- You can access a library of user created templates in addition to the standard ones
- You can add link functionality to make the wireframe act as a prototype
- You can make changes to the wireframe as you present it
Online wireframing is still relatively young, so there’s still plenty of room for competition and the features are evolving. One feature I would love to see added is instant updates that appear to a team as you work (without hitting save), like in Google Docs. Regardless, I would definitely recommend online wireframing to any team that needs to collaborate and present online.
After six years of service, my Powerbook from 2004 simply wasn’t cutting it anymore. It took forever to start Photoshop or Flash and it ran even slower when I connected it to a monitor. It was high time for a new computer and this week it arrived, but not in a box with a big Apple logo. For the first time in my life, I bought a PC.
I’ve relied on Apple computers for all of the design I’ve done with a computer since I started college. I’m comfortable using a PC to test in Internet Explorer, but I’ve rarely needed one for anything else.
Why then did I get a PC?
It certainly wasn’t because of Microsoft’s ad campaigns. I find most of their ads annoying and would rather watch an ‘I’m a Mac’ commercial any day:
Apple has always designed beautiful products and I’ve always known that their design comes at a premium. When it comes to laptops and media players I’ve been comfortable paying more for a better designed product, especially when it has a stable operating system that’s less prone to viruses. Sure, it might not always be easy to replace the parts in an Apple product (how many iPods are in landfills now because the battery died?), but I had come to live with that.
This time my expectations were different, however. I didn’t want a laptop, I wanted a powerful workstation that could burn through the biggest Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash files I threw at it, simultaneously. I also wanted to make it as future-proof as possible, with the ability to upgrade later. I already have a nice 24″ monitor, so buying an iMac seemed unnecessary. I was either going to get a Mac Pro, or a PC, and the more I researched, the harder it was to justify the price of a Mac Pro.
First, there’s design. The physical design of a Mac Pro isn’t much nicer than a standard PC case. As far as I’m concerned, they’re both big rectangular boxes that you put out of sight under your desk.
Second, there’s pricing. The Mac Pro starts at $2,499 and for the most part, it uses the same parts as a PC. It may not be an entirely fair comparison, but, for about $500 less, here’s what I got compared to the Mac Pro:
|One 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon||Intel i7 930 overclocked to about 3.5GHz|
|3GB memory||6GB memory|
|640GB hard drive||128GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive|
|NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 512MB||NVIDIA GTX 480 with 1.5GB|
Essentially, I got a faster processor with more memory, a bigger hard drive plus a solid state drive that loads much faster, and a much faster graphics card.
Third, there’s future upgrades and connectivity. The Mac Pro is probably the easiest Mac product to upgrade. However, any components you buy in the future will have to work with the Mac, and probably come at a premium. With the PC, I only need to be sure that the component will work with my motherboard and the pricing is likely to be more competitive. Additionally, my PC came with external USB 3 and SATA 3 connections, which, as far as I know, aren’t even available for the Mac Pro.
Finally, there’s the operating system and security. I’ll probably always prefer the Mac OS to Windows and Linux. Since I rely on the Adobe Suite for designing, I don’t see Linux as an option. I heard a lot of complaints in the past about Windows Vista, but Windows 7 has been reviewing well with major improvements to usability and security. So far I haven’t had any major problems with it.
Those are the main considerations I think everyone in the market for a Mac Pro or PC should consider, but there will always be different personal needs to consider as well. For me, I felt I could benefit as a web designer from having a better understanding of a Windows environment. Since I’m often designing user interfaces, it’s good to know what conventions people are used to from their operating systems. I should also mention that gaming was a factor in my decision. I’m happy to see game services like Steam come to the Mac, but there are still far more games made for the PC. It’s nice to know that my new PC should be able to handle any new games that come out for some time. Games are also generally cheaper on PCs than consoles and with my new system, they should look better.
So that summarizes my decision. I’ll still continue to use a Mac at work and I’ll probably miss OS X sometimes, but for now I’m happy with my purchase.
Today I’m launching a redesign of the site, which was built as a theme for the blogging tool, Word Press. I will be adding more work to the portfolio and updating this blog as time permits. If enough people express interest in using the design for their own WordPress sites, I might release it at some point in the future.
One of my goals with the redesign was to make the work in my portfolio stand out as much as possible. I didn’t want the design of the site to compete with the screenshots of my web work, so I went with a neutral, dark theme and used color sparingly.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the design or any questions you might have. You can post comments in the blog or on any portfolio page.