Top Five Planning Apps for Freelancers

Photo by Sam Howzit

When you’re working on a big project, sometimes you need to get out of the narrow confines of the app you’re using or the code you’re tinkering with and think about the big picture. How will your project look when it’s finally completed? How will your users make sense of everything?

These apps give you the runway and tools you need to design fresh, professional mockups that will allow to show your clients your vision for a new app or website that lets them give their input before you spend hours and hours making it a reality.

1. Balsamiq Mockups

Mockups gives you the tools necessary to create fast, deliberately lo-fi drawings that won’t intimidate your design-a-phobic clients. In addition to being perfect for in-person meetings, Mockups makes it easier to share drafts, and its flexible export capabilities allows you to email a rough draft with a simple cut-paste.

2. Dribbble

Planning is inextricably linked to design, and Dribbble (yes, with three b’s) is a great place to share what you’re working on with other designers. If you worried about next week’s meeting with a big client, and want some early encouragement, or if you need to get feedback from people who, unlike your customers, actually know something about design, Dribbble is a perfect site.

3. Penultimate

Offered by the same people who brought you Evernote, Penultimate is designed to replicate the experience of handwriting on your iPad. If you’re around using Evernote, the app is an easy sell, but even if you’re not it’s helpful to have a place to go when you just want to put (virtual) pen to (virtual) paper and sketch out a few ideas.

4. Pencil Project

If you need a more formal planning app, but want something that’s free and open source, Pencil Project is a good choice before you invest in higher-end planning software. This tool includes stencils of major tablet and smartphones, so you can plan your mock screens accurately, and supports diagram drawing, just in case you also need to show how your application is structured.

5. Lumzy

Sometimes you need to move beyond a mockup stage, and show your clients how your application will actually work. Lumzy combines the best of both worlds by allowing you to create a mock-up and, then use the prototype feature to make your button-clicks work as they will once you build it.

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