I've come across a lot of industry folk who do not know about the existence of Inkscape. I'm beginning to wonder if it hurts to say that I have used Inkscape for wireframes instead of Illustrator or other paid products.
Inkscape is powerful enough for most of the wireframe needs. However, it lacks the following features:
- Definition of a library of reusable assets. You can have elements at the margin of the document and copy paste them but it is not as well supported as Visio stencils.
- Definition of templates that can be updated. You can clone elements with Inkscape and link SVG files but is not easy to operate.
- Navigation links between different pages. You cannot define multi-page documents so you have to rely in the filesystem and links between documents for testing the wireframes cannot be defined (as far as I know).
Some of these features can be done/emulate in Inkscape but the process of working is not as seamless as it should be. Alternatives, such as Pencil, in combination with Inkscape, add many of the above capabilities. Elements Pencil stencils can be pasted directly into Inkscape.
The fidelity of wireframes should never be the top consideration. Wireframes are just a visual "What if" and are used to quickly ideate. You throw an idea out, wireframe it, move stuff around, etc.
You can sketch out wireframes, use ms paint, Photoshop, Illustrator, what ever. Its the ideas that matter at this point. Not the produced visual.
Then when you and your team are happy with the "idea" of the wireframe, you move on to the next step.
So all together, don't worry about how you do it. Just focus on the ideas behind it.
No one should care what you used to make the wireframe (other than if you happen to be on a large collaborative team that needs software interoperability). I love Inkscape. I much prefer it over AI for UI work (RIP Freehand). The concepts are the same as AI so it's not like you wouldn't get the hang of AI in a day or so if you had to use it.
I use inkscape - and love it. My work is not compromised one iota. I use it for ideas, wireframes, detailed mockups, building interactive demos (with a little html glue), icons, graphics (flat or realistic) and have been doing so for years with clients from small startups to large global companies (real ones - not like in the Apprentice UK!).
I use other tools too (most of them free actually) - for different purposes, but Inkscape constitutes about 90% of my design time. (Others include but not limited to: Paint.net, Irfanview, Gimp and Balsamiq).
Yes everyone 'knows' about Adobe products and Inkscape is less well known, but the tools that work best for you are the ones that allow you to get the client the best results you can, and that's what should matter.
The only way in which it will hurt you is if you interview somewhere that expects use of a product such as Fireworks, Balsamiq, etc, etc. For that reason alone it is good to have exposure to other tools that are out there.
I've nothing against Inkscape - but when I go looking for reasons as to why one candidate is above another, and I know our design shop uses only Adobe products, it's a mark for a candidate with the requisite experience, and a mark against the candidate without.
Tools are unimportant, skills are what matters.
It doesn't make a difference if you use pen & paper, Inkscape or Axure, your wireframing skills are transferable. Software can be learned quickly, experience and skill is of much more value.
The important thing is illustrating that you understand the importance and value of wireframing and prototyping.