How We Do Content Discovery

Hello friends of Balsamiq!

This is part 4 of our 5-part mini-series of blog posts about how we do marketing.

Here's the full list:

  1. The Balsamiq Mantras
  2. The Balsamiq Marketing Checklist
  3. Tools we Use for Brand Monitoring
  4. How We Do Content Discovery
  5. Tools we Use for Social Scheduling.

Today's fun topic: Content Discovery!

Content Discovery

Content Discovery usually refers to platforms and algorithms to help you discover content you or your community may enjoy.

Most social media platforms these days offer integrated features for content discovery, such as the "suggested posts" on Facebook or Twitter.

We tend to use a broader definition of Content Discovery: for us it means all the activities we do related to finding excellent content, no matter the tool or channel.

A big part of our mission to help rid the world of bad software is to help people learn how to make better software. Consequently, a lot of what we look for and share is about user experience (UX). We also share about other topics that our community cares about: entrepreneurship, working remotely, and others.

In the past, we used to share content we randomly found on the web as we found it. Recently, since we hired our new community manager Jessica, we've been able to better organize our work and look for interesting content to share almost every day.

Newsletters, websites, blogs, etc.

To help us "see what's new", we created a page in our internal wiki, containing a growing list of sources to look at: websites, blogs, newsletters, Twitter accounts, Facebook groups, online communities, etc.


We browse these sources and carefully read and vet a lot of articles. If we're not sure, we ask our teammates if something is worth sharing or not.

It's a very time-consuming task, but we want to be very sure that the content we are about to share is worth of our Community's time.

Another source of links to share - my favorite - are my colleagues. Thanks to Balsamiq's Professional Development Policy, a lot of us spend quite a bit of time studying and reading, so it's common for us to discover amazing resources and read extensive articles on what interests us.


Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker is a story-based project planning tool quite popular among Agile development teams. We mainly use it as a bug and feature requests tracker to develop Balsamiq Mockups.

Since we had already adopted the tool for other teams, we decided to create a new Pivotal project to keep track of all the shared content, and where we shared them. Serving as social shares repository is not Pivotal's primary use, but I found a way to adapt it to our needs as Community Managers.


Whenever we find an article we'd like to share, we add a story to Pivotal about it, including the following information:

  • the title of the article
  • its URL
  • where we want to share it ("big4" stands for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin)
  • the author's Twitter account (we like to @-mention them on Twitter, they deserve the credit)
  • the short message(s) we'll use to share the content

If our Twitter followers seem particularly delighted with a certain piece of content, we'll also add the label "Recurrent" to the story. In this way, we are able to quickly find and tweet it again after some weeks or months.

Each story has a little table at the top with "story type", "points", "state" of the story itself, etc. It's something very important when it comes to tracking bugs and feature requests, but we don't use it for our marketing purposes.

What we Like About Pivotal Tracker

  • It does its job: once you get used to it, it's very quick and smooth.
  • Collaboration is one of its strengths, and it's showing now that the team grows.
  • It has a free option, and the paid plans are very affordable. Here's the full pricing info.

What we'd Like to See Improved

  • Pivotal Tracker is kind of rigid tool: it has default settings, prebuilt workflows and specific language and concepts. Which is perfect for a team of developers but it doesn't work so well in other, hybrid contexts. We'd like it to have more flexibility so that we could enjoy it more in a context different to software development.
  • Another problem is, whilst it gives me a very granular view of all the tasks on a specific content, I find it hard to get the overall view of the Content Discovery's state of play.

As you can see, Content Discovery is simple: it just requires a lot of reading and a simple tracking tool. :)

Do you have any advice for us? How do you do Content Discovery at your company?

Next week we'll wrap up the series talking about Social Scheduling. See you soon!


    Tools We Use for Brand Monitoring

    Hello friends of Balsamiq!

    We're back with more from our 5-part mini-series of blog posts about how we do marketing.

    Here's the full list:

    1. The Balsamiq Mantras
    2. The Balsamiq Marketing Checklist
    3. Tools We Use for Brand Monitoring
    4. How We Do Content Discovery
    5. Tools We Use for Social Scheduling.

    The next 3 blog posts are going to focus on which marketing tools we use in Balsamiq, and how we use them.

    We hope this will be useful in your daily work. Let's get started!

    Brand Monitoring

    Brand Monitoring is scanning the web to find out what is being said about your company, your product, your service or anything else connected with your business.

    Knowing what people say about us is crucial to identify opportunities for engagement and put our Mantras into practice.

    One very important channel to monitor is obviously Twitter. We've used it since day one - actually, two months before day one ;) - and we receive a lot of mentions there. But a lot of people are talking about us outside of Twitter.

    In the past we used to use RSS for this, but since it pretty much died when Google killed Google Reader, we've had to look for other ways to monitor our brand.



    We decided to use Mention to track any mention of our brand across the web.

    We check Mention weekly for "Balsamiq", "myBalsamiq", "UX Apprentice", etc.

    We also discard a bunch of links that we don't care about: license key cracks, job postings requiring Balsamiq as a skill, fake blog or twitter spam...

    Going through Mention is also a great way to discover new potential candidates for the Balsamiq Champions blog.

    What we Like About Mention:

    • It finds a lot of content everywhere, even articles where Balsamiq is misspelled or not explicitly mentioned (for example, a short-link to our site).
    • It sometimes finds out old articles, and this helps us fill in some blanks in our records.
    • You can also "teach" Mention to block some sources for the future, in case they're not interesting at all.
    • The UI is pretty nice and it's enjoyable to use both from desktop and tablet or phone.
    • It's not free! This means they'll stay in business! :) Here's the full pricing info.

    What we'd Like to See Improved:

    • We'd like to turn off alerts for our own social profiles. We don't need to see our Facebook updates, tweets or Instagram pics in our own Mention stream.
    • Sometimes Mention shows the same link again some weeks or months after it was published, which is confusing.


    It doesn't matter if you are a social media marketer, a business owner, or a student. Sooner or later, you will face this problem: where can I collect and archive articles and links?

    There are a lot of solutions to this problem; I have to admit I used to send myself emails and put them in folders (true story). Lucky for us, Peldi started to use a nice "social bookmarking" tool since the very beginning.

    Back in 2008, we used When Yahoo pretty much killed it, we switched to Pinboard, and we couldn't be happier. Incidentally, Peldi is a big fan of Maciej Ceglowski, the 1-man-band behind it.


    We have a huge, public repository on Pinboard, where we catalog links we've discovered thanks to Mention or here and there during our working days. Each element gets neatly categorized: reviews (even the bad ones), comments, videos, tutorials...all out in the open for the world to see.

    For example, you can see all the Balsamiq Sightings we found on the web, or have some fun with this list of people who misspell the balsamic vinegar as Balsamiq, or look at our growing golden puzzle collection (more on the golden puzzle at minute 31:00 of this talk).

    We also browse our Pinboard links looking for the best reviews when we need to update our Press List.

    What we Like About Pinboard:

    • It's simple to use thanks to its Chrome extension.
    • It can be used by multiple people, without creating link duplication.
    • It's ugly minimalist on purpose, to make the design light and the information density high.
    • We especially like that we can add notes. We use them by copy-pasting some text: it's an easy way to keep some nice words alive, even if their web page won't exist anymore (it happens all the time.)
    • It's not free (good), and it's really cheap (very good). Here's the full pricing info.

    What we'd Like to See Improved:

    The Tag Autocomplete feature in the Chrome extension has an annoying usability issue. When I "pin" a link and want to add a tag, I usually type some letters and choose the right value using the arrow keys, as you can see below:


    But when I press "enter", Pinboard creates a new tag "balsamiq_p" instead of assigning the selected one. As a result, I unwittingly create "monster" tags and have to clean up my Pinboard account periodically.

    So these are the two simple and affordable tools we use to to Brand Monitoring these days.

    What tools do you use?

    I'll show you some Content Discovery tools next week.


      The Balsamiq Marketing Checklist

      Hello friends of Balsamiq!

      Today we would like to share another one of our Handbook pages with you. This time, it's about Marketing.

      We've come a long way since my guerrilla marketing approaches of 2008, and our marketing style has had to adapt.

      What Does Marketing Mean at Balsamiq?

      Marketing is a word that comes with baggage. It used to have a "push things down people's throats" connotation, but things are changing.

      We use the word marketing to define anything customer-facing that we do:

      Other ways to define it could be "customer communication" or even "most of what we do". :)

      We "Do Marketing" in 4 Ways

      1. Product and Customer Service. Similarly to Apple, we lead with our product. Our main effort should be about making a product that's "at home" good. After that, we should focus on supporting and educating our customers so well that they become successful. If we do those things, extremely powerful word of mouth will follow.
      2. Inbound / Content Marketing. We like to generously give back to our community by providing a lot of free valuable content, giving away our software to schools, non-profits and many others, and more.
      3. Content Discovery / Community Management. We actively participate in the UX and startup communities in order to stay abreast of what's new, discover content to share with our customer and to nurture our market as a whole.
      4. Advertising. We believe that once the right people find us, they will become more successful. So we also spend a little effort trying to reach people who might need it. We do this via Sponsorships and Ads which guide them first to our website, then to try the product, then help them make something with it.

      The Balsamiq Marketing Checklist

      We use this checklist anytime we write a new blog post, documentation article, tutorial, FAQ, web page, Facebook post, even a little Tweet!

      The list is very much inspired by our mantras, so make sure you internalize those first.

      • Goal
        • what's the piece's main goal? Informational, inspirational, or...?
        • how does this help rid the world of bad software?
        • which of our personas is this useful for?
          • how does this make them more awesome?
          • can we make them feel smart by reading it?
        • does this even need to exist at all, or is it noise?
        • is it as short as possible without losing information and tone? (respect people's time)
      • Medium and Channel
        • what is the right medium for this message? For example, should it be a video instead of a blog post?
        • does it have a picture on it, preferably with a face on it? (no stock photo, and don't be shy with our own faces)
        • what's the best channel for this content?
        • how can we improve its chances to reach the right people?
      • Tone: does our personality shine through?
        • does it do it in a non-humblebrag, non-condescending and non-contrived way?
        • is it honest, authentic, humble, transparent, witty, endearing, cute, delightful?
        • does it show the bad with the good? does it show our current challenges?
      • Invite Conversation
        • does it speak to our community as peers?
        • does it mention members for our community, and thank them for their input?
        • does it ask for help and invite conversation?
      • Timing
        • is it time-sensitive? Does it need to be scheduled?
        • is it timeless, or is its impermanence made explicit?
          • if it's meant to be timeless, don't use numbers
          • if it's not, write it down "this is our current thinking, which might change"
      • Take it to 11
        • how can we possibly make this less about us and more about them?
        • how can we take this to 11? How can we make this "best of the web"?
      • Housekeeping
        • how does this fit with the rest of our content? What pages should link to this? How should this be highlighted?

      Download it as PDF!

      So there you have it. This is our current thinking about marketing. I'm sure it will evolve, but it's been serving us well recently. What do you think? How could we improve the checklist?

      Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

        Jessica Orellanes Joins Balsamiq!

        Hello, friends! I am Jessica, and I've just become the 21st member of the Balsamiq team as a Community Manager.

        Jessica Orellanes Community Manager at Balsamiq

        How I landed here is a mix of timing, location and -maybe- luck.

        My love for Italy and my newly formed family flew me 5,131 miles away from home. Once here, it took a deep interest in UX and Design, a rethinking of marketing and a Balsamiq mockup of my skills to get this bootstrapped little company's attention.

        Balsamiq Mockup of Jessica's CV

        Balsamiq's way of building and nurturing a relationship with the community is by helping them be more awesome at what they do. With the addition of my role, we intend to be more present and bring more value through our social media and other digital channels to be even more of service to our customers.

        I'd be pleased to know your thoughts about this role and what you think we can do to improve our communications and be helpful to you.

        If you have ideas you want to share, leave a comment or send me an email or a tweet at / @balsamiqJess :-)

        Jess for the Balsamiq Team

          Peldi's Talk About Balsamiq's Journey So Far

          Balsamiq's story is a compelling one: one man creates a product, builds a company and stays fiercely independent.

          It sounds good, but as you can imagine it's not without pain. As we grow, many ask us how we did it, and we love to share our adventure.

          Last September, Peldi had the opportunity to tell the story at the Business of Software USA conference. The ups, the downs, and all of the different plans we've tried to execute so far.

          The video is now available. And, even though Peldi reserved a brief acquisition anecdote for our live audience, we are sharing it today in the hope it's helpful and maybe even inspiring to other entrepreneurs out there.

          Hopefully, after watching this video, you'll think: "Hey, if Peldi was able to be successful, even if he clearly had no idea what he was doing, maybe I can make it too!" ;-)

          If you liked the video, you might also be interested in this Peldi's "Ask Me Anything" session where he shares further on these topics.

          We'd love to hear your thoughts about both, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to add your comment below!

            The Balsamiq Mantras

            As we say on our company page, since starting out in 2008,

            we are trying to build a company we’d like to do business with ourselves. We aim to be a company that’s human, respectful, transparent, inclusive, socially and environmentally conscious, and a good citizen of the world and the Web.

            To help ourselves translate this aspirational goal into day-to-day practice, we recently created a handbook page which we call "The Balsamiq Mantras".

            These are statements and concepts we try to keep in mind every time we interact with our community, and with each other.

            It's all common sense stuff we've been doing to the best of our abilities for a long time, but we've only recently written it down, mostly for new hires.

            I am sharing this today hoping it will be useful to other startups, and to ask for your help improving it. We hope you'll want to help us make our Mantras better in the comments!

            The Balsamiq Mantras

            1. Help Our Customers (And Their Users) Be More Awesome
            2. Genuinely Care About our Customers' Success, Customer Service is The New Marketing
            3. Be Good Servant Leaders, Be Good Citizens
            4. Be Generous
            5. Be So Good They Can't Ignore You. The Golden Puzzle
            6. Inspire With Our Culture

            1. Help Our Customers (And Their Users) Be More Awesome

            Everything we do is geared towards making our customers - and even their customers - more awesome at what they do.

            Kathy Sierra talks about this idea in her talk about Building the minimum Badass User or her book "Badass: Making Users Awesome". Both are highly recommended.


            It's not about our product, our company, our brand.
            It's not about how our users feel about us.
            It's about how the user feels about himself, in the context of whatever it is our product, service, cause helps him do and be.

            Just like a good UI, we should aim to disappear in the background and only be there when people need us.

            That's why we talk about benefits instead of features, why we showcase people's success via the Champions blog, why we made the high five page, and lots more.

            When you're working on something, consider: how does this make our users more awesome?

            Think: what else can we do to make our community more awesome? How can we help our customers help their clients/customers/users become more awesome?

            2. Genuinely Care About our Customers' Success, Customer Service is The New Marketing

            As our email signatures say, we're good people, and we care.

            The central idea is to try and really put yourself in the customer's shoes.

            • This means really listening, reading their messages carefully, without rushing, trying to understand where they're coming from.
            • It means being patient, empathetic, compassionate and non-judgmental. Remember: An Enemy Is One Whose Story We Have Not Heard [Irene Butter].
            • Then, it means imagining the user as someone you like, someone you'd like to help succeed in life.
            • In support, this results in really trying to imagine the best course of action for the user, including offering full refunds, suggesting a competing product, offering to recreate some lost data for them...
            • In marketing, this means being clear and honest about benefits as well as shortcomings, being respectful and never talking down to our users, and always trying to align our goals with theirs.

            When in doubt, choose to trust people's good intentions. Don't waste your energy trying to decipher if someone might be trying to scam us, it's not worth our time.

            Be human, warts and all!

            Think: how can we make our customers more successful? Do our processes support this goal?

            NOTE: there is a tension here: on one hand we want everyone at Balsamiq to have the freedom to do what's right for the user, but we can't afford to overdo it. A line has to be drawn somewhere.

            For example: giving our software away for free to everyone would undoubtedly help more people be successful, but it would also drive us out of business. Another example: we used to give all open-source projects, even tiny ones, free myBalsamiq forever. After a while we realized that this put a strain on our servers, so now we require that open-source projects have at least 20 contributors. We offer smaller projects Mockups for Desktop instead.

            In other words, let's try to be accommodating, but also keep in mind the long-term sustainability of what we offer customers.

            Think about it this way: going too far is actually something that hurts our customers in the long term, as it might drive us out of business.

            Derek Sivers speaks about this in this excellent podcast interview, at around minute 18:00. He says you have to serve others within the limits of what you can sustainably do.

            3. Be Good Servant Leaders, Be Good Citizens

            As we say on our company page, we try to be good upstanding citizens of our online community.

            We realize that we are only a small part of a community that involves our customers, our users, our partners, our competitors, their users, industry experts, bloggers, event organizers, and many others.

            We strive to be considered leaders in our community, but we know we have to earn it.

            Here's a quote about Servant Leadership:

            The point of servant leadership is to serve others by thinking of their needs, recognizing their needs and supporting efforts to meet their needs. Doing that requires strength, clear vision, and an undeterred drive. It’s not about taking a backseat and deferring to the whims and wishes of others.

            Highly effective leaders are more interested in creating more leaders not in gathering more followers. They see themselves as equals to others. They adopt an other-orientation so they are able to be more effective in reaching their own goals, too.

            We also try to be good citizens by sponsoring do-gooders, volunteering, donating 3% of our profits, and more.

            How this applies to competition: we never speak ill of our competitors: they are people, doing their best, just like us.

            We compete on usability and customer service: if someone has better usability and customer service than we do, they deserve to win.

            We are respectful of our customer's time: that's why we believe in quality over quantity, and we are extremely mindful of not spamming our customers.

            Think: how else can we be of service to our community? We have time and money: how can we use them to provide something that the community needs?

            4. Be Generous

            Derek Sivers says:

            All great service comes from this feeling of generosity and abundance.

            We can afford to be generous.

            We have the time, we have the money, helping people is what we should be doing. So, be generous!

            If the word generous doesn't do it for you, you could try compassionate instead.

            Think: having a hard time with a difficult task, or a difficult customer? Think to yourself: am I being generous enough?

            5. Be So Good They Can't Ignore You. The Golden Puzzle

            A big part of being REALLY GOOD at what we do is to really "GET" our customers. We strive to think outside the box in order to provide them with "the complete solution" and not just a piece of it.

            Some examples of how we do this:

            • we show inspiring quotes while people wait for things to load
            • we have an "I need inspiration" Help menu
            • we have a What should I make for dinner? menu
            • we lighten the mood of a support call by Rick-Rolling them with our hold music.

            ...all these things scream "we get you!" to our customers.

            Atlassian calls this Always Be Marketing. We call it the Golden Puzzle: whenever someone writes something good about us publicly that's not about our core competencies (in our case, our product and our support), we call that a Golden Puzzle piece. Here's our collection.

            I spoke about this concept in my Business of Software 2010 talk (from 29:32 to 34:25), take a look:

            This is, of course, easier said than done. It's a high bar to reach, and we will not reach it every time. But it's a good goal to have, it's a fun challenge.

            When people copy what you do, rejoice! It's a sign that it was really good! :)

            Think: whatever you're working on, how can you make it go to 11?

            6. Inspire With Our Culture

            This is something that's hard to do because we run the risk of seeming boastful or, even more annoyingly, humblebragging.

            At the same time, this is something that people respond really well to, and some people actively demand of us.

            People consider us thought leaders in many different fields:

            • bootstrapping a micro-multinational
            • our progressive company policies
            • being "optimized for working from home"
            • being "a learning organization"
            • providing outstanding support
            • being human! (empathy, saying sorry, using GIFs, taking responsibility, REALLY listening...)

            Our community wants us to share what we learn along the way. We're just trying to figure this out like everyone else. Sharing our progress helps us digest it and invites ideas we wouldn't have on our own.

            We do this in this Life@Balsamiq blog, but we should do more.

            Think: what are some topics we should share? What are some guidelines we can follow when sharing these kinds of topics? How do we deal with content obsoletion?

            Questions and Challenges

            Of course, this philosophy is not without challenges.

            Here are a few questions we're pondering right now (we'd love your help in the comments for these):

            • How can we make sure we preserve these values as our company grows?
            • What risks does this expose us to?
            • Is this clear enough to be digestible by everyone at Balsamiq?
            • Is it too long? Too preachy?
            • Does this page inspire people to do more, do better?
            • Is this enough to insure we have a consistent voice?
            • What's missing from this page?
            • What would you remove, or re-work?

            A final note to our awesome customers: please hold us accountable! We try to live up to our goals, but we're only human. Don't be shy with negative feedback, it helps us serve you better! :)

            Thanks for reading this far, looking forward to reading your thoughts below.

            Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

              Looking Back at 2015

              Hello again friends of Balsamiq!

              Peldi here with our traditional "state of the union" end-of-year report. You can find previous editions here: 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2014.

              As usual, this is going to be a very long post.


              We continue to truck along nicely, executing on our vision one step at the time. As usual, a large part of our efforts happen behind the scenes, both in product development and in general company growth. Revenue-wise, 2015 was yet another record year for us, with sales passing $6.4 million. We continue to grow organically, just the way we like it.

              In 2015 we released Balsamiq Mockups 3, a MAJOR update to our product. In many ways, it's the product we should have built from the beginning. We also worked on bringing the new version to our different products, and will continue that effort in 2016.

              2016 is going to be another very exciting year for us, with the native version of Mockups we've been working on for years finally being released, at least in our browser-based products.

              The Nitty-Gritty

              Interested in all the details? Let's dive in!


              After about a year of incredibly hard work, in March we released Balsamiq Mockups 3 for Desktop. It added native support for projects, a more modern and professional UX, easier to use symbols and assets, new icons, a new fullscreen mode, built-in support for "branching" via alternates, a trash bin, and even background music to help you focus.

              This is just the tip of the iceberg on what we added to Mockups in 2015. Take a look at these release notes for all the details:

              We also wrote a bunch of automated tests for the new codebase, and are always adding more.

              If you still haven't updated, you're really missing out. Just head over to our download page to get your free update!


              The themes for myBalsamiq in 2015 were: security, yearly plans and switching to native.

              We did a lot of work with security researchers to make sure your data was as secure as it could be. We did twenty-five (25!!!) zero-downtime, invisible-to-you releases in 2015, and are very happy with where we are right now. We will of course continue to work with security researchers and follow industry best practices to keep your data safe and secure (email us at if you want to get involved).

              After a lot of under-the-hood refactoring, we were able to finally ship annual plans for myBalsamiq, which are especially useful for our large enterprise customers, but convenient for all (annual plans get 12 months for the price of 10).

              Another big focus for myBalsamiq has been to bring the new editor features to it. Because our native HTML/JS editor is coming along very nicely, we've decided to use it for the next major update to myBalsamiq instead of trying to cram the old Flex-based one into it. For our myBalsamiq customers, this means having to wait longer, but we think the new stuff will be worth the wait.

              We also did a couple of small releases to lower the pain of those of you who work both with myBalsamiq and Desktop 3, by integrating the FontAwesome icon set in the "old" myBalsamiq editor.

              We also continued adding lots of automated tests, so we can all sleep better at night.

              In 2015 our users added 24,000 projects to myBalsamiq, which is now hosting about 140,000 projects. Sweet!


              2015 was another record year for our plugins as well.

              We released a new version of Mockups for Google Drive, which is now at feature parity with Mockups 3 for Desktop. We also started migrating our customers from the PinPayments payment processor to Stripe.

              On the Atlassian plugins front, we updated Mockups for JIRA to make it compatible with JIRA 7, and Mockups for Confluence to make it compatible with Confluence 5.9. We also added the FontAwesome icon set to them.

              We also worked on (and released in early 2016) a new version of Mockups for JIRA for Atlassian Cloud customers, which also brings it to feature parity with Mockups 3 for Desktop, and is sold only via Atlassian Marketplace.

              We are working with Atlassian on a new version of Mockups for Confluence for Atlassian Cloud customers, which will be released in 2016.

              Mockups 3 for Google Drive and Mockups 3 for JIRA Cloud use a new collaboration server we made which provides real-time collaboration, so that multiple people can edit the same project at the same time.

              We attended AtlasCamp in Prague and sponsored Atlassian Summit in San Francisco. Our commitment to the Atlassian ecosystem remains strong.

              The Long Road to Native

              We continued to invest a significant amount of effort in our "going to native" project. This means effectively rewriting our 7-year-old codebase in a way that will enable us to deliver our product as a native application, both on the Web and in all major desktop and mobile platforms.

              We started the year by building a proof-of-concept application on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and HTML/JS. This little project taught us a lot about possible performance issues and other "gotchas", and informed our architectural decisions for the main Mockups editor project.

              When that was done, we started working on the editor in earnest, replicating the existing features of Balsamiq Mockups 3 one by one. We still don't have too much to show you publicly, but we're super-excited about it, and are shooting for doing a private beta of a new version of myBalsamiq that uses the web client sometime mid-2016. Stay tuned here for updates.

              In the meantime, you can get a taste of what's to come by using the native HTML/JS viewer in Mockups 3 for Google Drive, or the newly released Mockups 3 for JIRA Cloud.

              This is going to be our biggest project of 2016. It'll be great.


              Operations is often the unsung hero of the story: if things work smoothly, no-one notices! :)

              As always, we did a lot of ops work in 2015, including migrating the myBalsamiq mySQL version from 5.5 to 5.6 (harder than it sounds), we moved the build archives from an old Rackspace account to AWS S3, we did several updates to our build machine and Jenkins, we reserved AWS instances and regularly reviewed AWS Trusted Advisor for security and other improvements. We also added DKIM/DMARC to our domains to ensure a more secure and reliable delivery of our emails.

              Here's a Pingdom report for all of our monitors for 2015.


              As always we could do better, but we're pretty proud of all those 100%s!

              Sponsorships and Philanthropy

              • As usual, we donated 3% of our 2014 profits to different non-profits!
              • We sponsored 85 new events in 22 countries!
              • We gave away over 306 months of free myBalsamiq service!
              • We raffled off tickets to 6 different conferences and events!
              • We gave away 781 free licenses to do-gooders of all kinds!
              • We gave our employees lots of free time to volunteer, and organized a few volunteering company outings.

              It feels good to be a good citizen! :)

              Marketing and Website Updates

              Now that we have a product we're proud of and a great organization to support it, we started pushing on marketing a bit more.

              Support, Docs & Sharing What We Learned

              Website updates

              • We switched,,,, and to HTTPS. It's more secure, and Google likes it better.
              • We made all of our websites responsive, so that they look great on tablets and phones.
              • We switched our site search provider from Google Custom Search to Swiftype. Try it out, it's awesome.
              • We improved our product comparison page.
              • We improved our company page and added a little easter egg to it (click on the team photo!)
              • We improved our What should I make for dinner? page and published 12 new video recipes.
              • We changed how we build our website, from grunt to gulp + webpack.
              • We created a new React-powered contact form to help us skip a few steps when giving people support.
              • We also created other React-powered forms, for applying for a sponsorships, free software or a job at Balsamiq. These forms integrate directly with (our help desk service) and Confluence (our internal Wiki).
              • UX Apprentice is now translated in 6 languages (English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish), and we added a useful resource page to it.
              • We added a curated press list to our site.
              • We created a new page for our talks and interviews.
              • We updated our brand a bit: gone is the sad old dark red, welcome the new bright red! :)

              Admin, Finance and More

              Making sure a 20-person geographically-distributed startup runs smoothly is no small task.

              We hired 4 people, in 3 different countries: as you can imagine, that's a lot of paperwork. :)

              In 2015 our friend Ben Norris left us to follow his dreams - we miss you Ben! :) - so we decided to leave the state of Utah and instead establish a nexus in Illinois, where Brendan lives.

              We also organized a company retreat in a castle in the Loire Region of France, which was amazing.

              We hired an intern (Alain) to work on an exciting new feature of Mockups, coming soon.

              We continued to improve our local benefits packages, by offering food vouchers for our Italian employees, adding a pension fund in Germany, better medical support in the Netherland, introducing 401(k) matching for our US employees, added a $250/mo co-working allowance for everyone, and more.

              We also changed our vacation policy from being "unlimited" to "minimum expected days", which is more effective in encouraging employees to actually take vacation. We got written up about it on CNN Money, which was pretty cool. :)

              As usual, we worked with our accountants and lawyers and investment bankers, to make sure we're doing everything right. :)

              We also raised the price of Mockups for Desktop for the first time in its history - from $79 to $89 for a single license - and extended the trial period from 7 to 30 days.

              Here are the revenue figures for 2015:


              As you can see, revenue is a healthy $6.4M, up 4.87% since 2014. Nice and steady growth, just the way we like it.



              The two charts above show that people continue to gradually migrate from Desktop to SaaS, in line with the whole software industry. This is lovely for us, as SaaS revenue is super-predictable, and recurring! :)


              The chart above is also very similar to last year's. As always, Australia is over-represented in this chart because that's how we track sales that happen via Atlassian Marketplace (Atlassian is based in Australia, but the customers really come from all over the world).


              Our shopping cart handled over 123,000 transactions in 2015. Solid! :)

              Profits remain very healthy. We won't have the exact figures for a few months, but we suspect they'll be over 30% again.

              Conferences, Interviews and Press Mentions

              We attended the following conferences (bold means that one of us spoke at the event):

              • DotJS Conference Paris
              • UserConf 2015 San Francisco
              • Atlassian Summit San Francisco
              • Code Mesh 2015 London
              • Storytelling and Social Media Workshop Bologna
              • ReactJS Day - Verona
              • Newsletter and Email Marketing Workshop Bologna
              • Business of Software Boston
              • CITCON - Helsinki
              • Software Circus, Programmable Infrastructure, Amsterdam
              • Microconf Europe Barcelona
              • Madison+ UX Conference
              • ReactEurope 2015 Paris
              • AtlasCamp Prague
              • NSConference 7 London
              • Google+ workshop's Bologna
              • World IA Day Bologna
              • IXDA San Francisco
              • Interaction 15

              Press mentions around the web are too many to list, but here's a little sample of some of the most interesting articles:

              Looking ahead

              We're very excited about the year ahead. We are already working on some highly requested features, and the "going native" project is really coming along well. Our plugins will get a full revamp, we'll continue to invest a bit more in marketing, and we'll probably hire a couple more people to help us go even faster.

              As always, we hope you'll want to come with us in our journey.

              Thanks for reading this super-long post.

              If anything in this post surprised you or sparked your interest, don't be shy and add a comment! I'd love to answer any questions you might have.

              We hope 2016 brings you and your families health, happiness and success.

              Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

                A New Year's Toast to Some Awesome Non Profits

                Four years ago we added a company donation policy. Over the years we increased the amount we donate from 2% to 3% of our profits and we've added the ability for each employee to split up their donation between two organizations, instead of just one. Other than that it has remained unchanged and is one of our favorite annual practices!

                Allowing our team to choose which organizations to give to enables us to personalize how our company makes donations. We also get a chance to learn more about each other, as every year we hear our team members share why they picked the organizations and issues they did, which are near and dear to their hearts.

                We believe this diversity and individuality enriches the team as a whole. We see how we are different, with different interests and passions, and yet, the wonderful thing is, we also see how much we are the same, and how we share common core values.

                Some shared values we saw this year include promoting education and research, humanitarian aid, and supporting local community projects for those in need. We know non-profit work is rewarding, but also full of many challenges, so we wanted to give a special shout out to the organizations we donated to in 2015, thanking them for their dedicated work to make this world a better place.

                We've chosen three to highlight for you.

                Education and Justice - Sojourn to the Past

                During the 50th anniversary year of the March from Selma to Montgomery, it seemed particular fitting to support a wonderful non-profit founded to teach children about the Civil Rights Movement. Sojourn to the Past takes young adults to southern US States to visit the first schools to be racially integrated, churches that were firebombed, and other historical sites important to the movement. This trip, along with a dynamic curriculum, can be life-changing; it was for our colleague Val's family.

                When her son, Sam, decided to go, Val's husband Jake joined as a chaperone. They visited Stone Mountain, where the Ku Klux Klan held cross-burnings, participated in invaluable group exercises designed to help process their experiences, and they were lucky to meet with several real heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, including Congressman John Lewis.

                Congressman_John_LewisCongressman John Lewis with Val's son and husband - Photo credits: Audra Gray

                We are proud to support this organization, recently honored by the King Center, that promotes the values of diversity, education, respect and compassion, and social justice through non-violence.

                Humanitarian Aid - Syria

                2015 was also a year where we became more aware of the ongoing situation for migrants and refugees across the globe. Many of us felt compelled to donate to efforts to help with the Syrian refugee crisis.

                There are many organizations that should be applauded for their efforts in this massive humanitarian emergency. Leon, Marco, Natalie, Peldi, and Paolo added their support via three of them: Save the Children, The UN Refugee Agency, and Catholic Relief Services.

                Though it doesn’t actually seem like much in the face of such a huge, complicated, and painful situation, we're grateful to be able to help in some small way.

                Local Community Projects - Stella del Mattino

                We also value small organizations working to help those in need in our local areas. We chose various food banks, housing projects, and programs to help protect women and children from domestic abuse. One of these local projects is Cooperativa Sociale Stella del Mattino, an organization founded by Francesca's father. This Italian organization provides employment for 10 individuals with disabilities, who would otherwise have extreme difficulty finding a job.

                The community helps its members gain some independence, and feel relevant and active participants in society. And it's even a place were love blossoms, as two members in the community met there and were married a few years ago. :-)

                We're honored to support groups focused on impacting the every day lives of those around them.

                We at Balsamiq are humbled and grateful to be able to support these organizations, and the ones listed below. Learning about the work they are doing, challenges and inspires us to see what we also can do with our hands, time, and talent to help our community, both from within the company and in our personal lives.

                We'd love to hear ways your company is striving to support its community and our world through donations of time or money.

                There is so much awesomeness happening in the world!

                Balsamiq Sends our Heartfelt Thanks to These Hardworking Organizations

                Alzheimer Italia (Italy) Die Tafel (Germany) Sacramento Loaves & Fishes (US)
                Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (Italy) Electronic Frontier Foundation (US) Save the Children (Italy)
                Associazione La Conchiglia (Italy) La casa delle donne (Italy) (Italy) Sojourn to the Past (US)
                Berkeley Food & Housing Project (US) Mensa dell'Antoniano (Italy) St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin County (US)
                Bimbo Tu (Italy) Mozaic-Breizh (France) Stella del Mattino (Italy)
                Buddhismo della Via di Diamante (Italy) Nuovo Rifugio Amola (Italy) The UN Refugee Agency (US)
                Catholic Relief Services (US) Rueil Digital (France) World Wildlife Fund (US)
                Center for Domestic Peace (US)    

                  A Season to be Thankful

                  Another year has gone and here we are, looking back to what 2015 brought us.

                  As usual, Peldi will publish a detailed “looking back” post soon. In short, we have grown, released our biggest update ever, learned a lot of amazing things, and are all excited about the new year.

                  Even if we keep on growing, we haven’t changed our best traditions. One of these is Christmas Gifts.

                  This year, Santa brought everyone a winter jacket embroidered with the Balsamiq logo. And since we all have different tastes, every Balsamico got to choose their own jacket at REI. We like the idea of letting everyone pick something they need and want, and will actually wear! So we've done personalized clothing for a number of Christmases. Some of us are starting to be asked by strangers if Balsamiq is a brand of clothing. ;)


                  The end result is that we are all happy with our jackets, and proud too, to support REI and their effort to get everyone outside.

                  We also received a photo-album from our last retreat (thank you, Anna!) and a whole pile of smiley stickers!


                  When I received my gifts, I was filled with gratitude and joy, but a lot of my attention was focussed on the little dedication that Santa-Peldi wrote for us. I'd like to share it with you:

                  Every December when it’s time to write this little note I wish I had spent some of my PD time taking a writing class. :)

                  This year is especially tough: I would like to say something thoughtful and appropriate about dealing with recent news events, but I’m not up to the task. What I do know is that, personally, I find great comfort in being surrounded by such a kind, warm and kick-ass group of friends.

                  It really is a blessing and a privilege to be working through this personal and company Kaizen path with you all.

                  It looks like 2016 is going to be yet another awesome year. Let’s take some time at the end of this one to relax and take a big breath, there will be time to dive back in in January!

                  Please give a big hug to your loved ones for me - pets included!


                  We hope you all have a great holiday season, and we look forward to working with you in 2016.

                  Francesca for the Balsamiq Team

                    Welcome Brendan, Virgin and Stefano!

                    Hello friends of Balsamiq!

                    It is my great pleasure to introduce to you three new members of the Balsamiq family today.

                    Brendan Saricks

                    Brendan is the guy in your family that everyone calls when their computer doesn't work. He has been a customer advocate (and nerd) for his entire adult life, and is excited to help the awesome Balsamiq community make the best software and websites they can!

                    Brendan is based in the Chicago, Illinois area.

                    Virgin Pereira

                    We stole Virgin away from a certain fruit technology company where he was taking care of European customers. He is very excited to join the Balsamiq team and help users making their way through this great software!

                    Virgin is based in Bretagne-de-Marsan, a peaceful village in the South-West of France.

                    Stefano Brilli

                    Stefano is an ambitious programmer working on Mockups. In the past he did everything, from embedded programming to web development. He is excited to learn how an independent software vendor such as Balsamiq works, and the possibility it provides to work on several different technologies.

                    Stefano works out of our Bologna, Italy office.

                    We are now up to 20 people, can you believe it? Our little 5-star restaurant on the web keeps growing up! :)

                    Please join us in welcoming our new awesome Balsamici by leaving a comment below.

                    Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

                      Next Page »