I am desperately seeking good software for creating wireframes and mockups. I'm looking for something that is easy to learn and easy to use, and preferably cheap or free. But I will pay for good software. I was using a trial version of Adobe Fireworks and it is awful. That program was very difficult to learn and use. Adobe Fireworks sucks. That program is pure crap. It costs $300 and Adobe provides no meaningful tutorials to learn the program. I spent many hours (probably about 12 hours over the past few days) trying to learn that thing and finally came to the conclusion it was time to give up. The nicest feature I found was that it creates a separate sublayer for every shape you create, making it easy to move stuff around.
I have not used Photoshop since version 6, which came out in 1999, I believe. I found Photoshop 6 to be a very easy to use program, quite intuitive. Is the current version of Photoshop as easy to use as the old version? Or is it a pain like Fireworks? Sometimes these software companies take something good and change it for the worse in the name of improvement.
I tried using GIMP. GIMP has the worst user interface of any graphics program. You have to constantly hunt around for the toolbox and other windows because they float outside the main program. And scrolling takes forever when you are zoomed in. Heck, you can't even draw a shape in GIMP and the developers are opposed to adding such functionality because GIMP isn't a drawing program, so they say.
I tried Paint.NET. It does not have nearly as many features as GIMP but at least you can draw a rectangle or a circle. The problem is that it isn't that good. Gradients don't look that good and it is not possible to do things like add a shadow to a box unless you go through a whole bunch of work to do it.
So that's where I stand. Each program has some good features and some severe deficiencies. None of them are worth much money for wireframing or mockups, certainly not the $300 Fireworks costs.
I want a program that will enable me to wireframe in minutes. If I need to move something like a menu around, I want it to have its own layer so I can move it. Ideally, the program would have graphics capabilities which would allow me to produce a good looking mockup that can be used to show people what the finished site will look like. With image quality good enough that I could slice out the images in the mockup and use them on the site.
Any suggestions or am I out of luck? Is Photoshop the only choice? Fireworks, GIMP, and Paint.NET are not cutting it for me. If we could take the good features of each program and put them together we could have a winner.