When it comes to user interface design tools, both Balsamiq and Figma emerge as popular solutions. And rightfully so. Both of them are quick, effective, easy-to-use and feature-packed to avail you of every possible element to create exceptional prototyping and wireframing support.
Yet, these tools have distinct characteristics and applications that make them both unique.
What is Balsamiq?
Balsamiq is a UI wireframing tool known to quickly design a UI blueprint in a sketched style without writing a single code. You can create an informal visual representation of any software interface across multiple platforms such as desktop, web or mobile.
Since it focuses on the low-fidelity prototype, users can compare several variants in no time. It means you can generate multiple digital sketches of your idea or concept for a website or application to choose the best option before writing the final codes.
Balsamiq is well suited to business owners, product managers, business analysts, developers, agencies, UX professionals and anyone familiar with UX.
What is Figma?
Figma is a web-based interface design tool, which also allows real-time collaboration. It offers a broad range of graphic design functions, such as wireframing websites and mobile app interfaces, prototyping designs and crafting social media posts.
Figma works primarily on the browser. Therefore, you can access your project from any platform and start designing anytime, anywhere. It also means you don’t have to plan on buying multiple licenses to install the software.
Figma is a suitable design platform for students, freelancers, start-ups, small businesses and enterprises.
Comparison of Balsamiq & Figma
As design tools, Balsamiq and Figma both give each other quite a tough competition. Despite not being the same, they go head-to-head over the uniqueness and usability of the features.
Starting with Balsamiq, it gives you handy tools for fast wireframing, such as the Quick add tool and Alternates. Balsamiq also supports many 3rd party software integrations, which allows you to share and store files in a cloud as well as across multiple applications like Confluence and Jira.
If we talk about design tools, few options are available since it is primarily a tool for mockups and wireframes. At most, you can change the background and border colors and add icons and images. It also doesn’t feature a drawing tool, but you can utilize its library to work on predefined shapes with limitations like the inability to resize or rotate objects.
On the other hand, Figma gives you all the tools you need for the project’s design phase. For example, it has vector tools that are helpful in full-fledged illustration. Moreover, it includes prototyping capabilities and code generation for handoff.
Just like Balsamiq, Figma facilitates you with real-time collaboration tools. However, with Figma, you can also leave comments directly on the canvas so that the rest of the team, working simultaneously on the same design, can find the notes easily.
Figma also lets you build connections and hotspots on your design. Through this feature, you can simulate the way a user would flow through that interface. Similarly, the coding phase tools also offer SVG, CSS, iOS and Android code.
Clearly, in this comparison, Figma remains ahead of Balsamiq.
Balsamiq has commendable UI and UX features. It offers hundreds of built-in and community-generated UI controls and icons which are also called Wireframes to Go. It is a free user-contributed collection of ready-to-use UI controls and design pattern libraries. These libraries extend the collection included in the built-in UI Library.
Besides that, it has the familiar keyboard shortcuts that make any UX designer fall for it. Product Managers can access tools to share their ideas, and developers find it fast and powerful. Due to its ease of use, Balsamiq is a recommended tool for students or newbies interested in getting into UX.
In comparison, Figma also gives you UX design tools to create products faster by collaborating in a single, free and web-based design tool. The entire team can view and interact with the whole new design by accessing a single, live URL through real-time collaboration.
Figma also provides a free online UI tool to create, collaborate, prototype and handoff. It is as fast as it is lightweight and doesn’t need installation to use or share files. With an easy-to-use interface, even an inexperienced user can run it with ease.
Balsamiq stands out in this comparison despite all the extras Figma offers.
Easy import and export compatibility
Balsamiq likely gives the most versatile and convenient way of exporting and importing files to exchange team members’ information. It saves all data and creates functional links. It also allows you to adjust PDF document elements, choose wireframes to export and change orientation.
In contrast, Figma lets you import a range of different file types like Sketch files, Figma files, individual images and vector illustration. Figma’s export feature is equally impressive. It lets you customize the way Figma exports your assets. You can define the type of file you want to export and the way you want to export it. Figma enables you to export to PNG, JPG, SVG and PDF.
Undoubtedly, Figma wins on this front with more options to import and export.
Better value for the price
Balsamiq Cloud is pricier than Figma. Balsamiq’s pricing starts from $9 per month and allows up to 2 projects at a time. However, all plans include unlimited wireframes and unlimited users. You can also opt for a 30 days free trial to get a better understanding of its abilities.
Conversely, Figma offers its starter plan at no cost at all. Under this plan, you can have 2 editors and work on up to 3 projects at a time. Its paid plans start from $12 per editor per month and allow unlimited projects and version history. The price difference makes it clear that Figma wants it to be affordable to beginners as well.
Both Figma and Balsamiq offer different features in their paid plans.
As an established design tool, Balsamiq offers comprehensive support services through email, help desk, FAQs, forum, knowledge base, phone support and live chat. Balsamiq houses easy-to-understand text tutorials and guides on its official website.
These guides can get you started with basic tasks within a few minutes. Balsamiq also has an active community of users who constantly contribute ready-to-use collections and best practices to other software users.
In comparison, Figma also offers a range of tutorials to let users quickly absorb everything it has to offer. From starting and interface tutorials to design systems and prototyping tutorials, Figma has learning materials for every aspect of its system.
Figma’s user community is also active. Community members share their projects, UI templates and icons with the other members. However, unlike Balsamiq, Figma doesn’t provide phone or live chat support.
Balsamiq leads this front with its comprehensive support system.
Prototype your Products and Save Resources
Balsamiq and Figma are brilliant tools that let you create mockup and wireframe designs. Both of the tools are revolutionary graphics editing apps, taking over the design world by storm. Though both of them offer similar features, they do vary greatly on price, support and fidelity.
While Balsamiq is a proven solution for established businesses and experienced professionals, Figma is a perfect app for start-ups and beginners. However, neither of them compromises the ease of use. The choice is yours entirely. Try basing your choice on your business and requirements.