Have you ever wondered this: what is the best way to plan and map out the layout and structure of a website or mobile app? Or how you should go about showing, explaining and proving to people that your ideas and/or concept will work before you start working on the prototype? If you do it verbally or in writing, you leave a lot of things to people’s imagination and there’s bound to be misunderstanding. The answer is to use wireframing tools to make wireframes.
In this article, we will evaluate the top 20 Design & Wireframing tools on the market.
What is a wireframe?
A wireframe is a screen blueprint that gives visual guidance on how a website or mobile app looks like at the structural level. Think of it as a stripped down, black and white layout of a website or a mobile app. Wireframing takes place in the early development stage and is a crucial step in the design process. The purpose is to build consensus and approvals before working on the prototype. It’s worth noting that some tools solely focus on wireframing, while others cover every step between wireframing and prototyping.
What are the benefits of using wireframing tools?
With wireframing tools, UX or web designers can easily visualise the structure and layout of a website or mobile app before it’s even been built. You can also prove your concepts and their usability, build consensus, get approvals, and move on to prototypes — all faster and easier than ever.
Let’s get started…
Wireframe.cc is a simple and straightforward wireframing tool that is best suited for those who are just getting started. Its no-nonsense and minimal user interface means you will get used to it in no time. You can use it to create and design wireframes for desktop, mobile, and tablet optimised user experiences. It allows you to add annotations to specific markup areas for comments and reviews too. However, it might not be as feature rich as other tools.
Pricing: Free, Solo: $16, Trio: $39, Unlimited: $99 (per month)
2. Balsamiq Wireframes
Balsamiq Wireframes is a popular wireframing tool that is easy to use thanks to its drag-and-drop functionality. You can choose to use it on desktop as an app, on web browser, or integrate it with your Google Drive. It also has a sketch mode for brainstorming and a clean wireframe mode for presentation, and you can easily switch between them. Another great thing is that it offers a 30-day free trial for trying it out before committing. If you are looking for a flexible, convenient, quick wireframe tool, this might just be it.
Pricing: 2 projects: $9 / 20 projects: $49 / 200 projects: $199 (per month)
FluidUI is another leading and popular wireframing and prototyping tool that claims to be widely used by designers from top tech companies such as Google, Oracle, and Samsung. It lets users create stunning wireframes and prototypes for both websites and mobile apps in minutes. You can even add interactivity and animation into your wireframes. If you are working remotely with another designer on it, you can simply use the live video calling feature for real-time collaboration. It’s also available as a mobile app on Android and iOS.
Pricing: Solo: $8.25, Pro: $19.08, Team: $41.58 (per month, billed monthly)
Pidoco is a cloud-hosted, end-to-end wireframing tool that is trusted by companies like T-Mobile, Zimory, and Sanofi. It comes with custom templates, interactive elements, and easy sketching for fast and efficient wireframing. Collaboration-wise, it lets you share and co-edit screens with other users and collect comments in real-time. To save time, you can create custom building blocks and reuse them over and over. Pidoco is highly customisable and integrates with other software such as Jira, Planio and more via its API.
Pricing: Free with limited features, Basic: $9.99, Pro: $59, Unlimited: $199 (Per month, billed monthly)
5. Pencil Project
Pencil Project is an open source and free wireframing and prototyping tool that runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. One of its awesome features is inter-page linking that allows specific elements in a wireframe to be linked to a specific page in the same project. With it, you can export wireframes to different output formats, including Single Web Page, PNG, PDF, and SVG. However, the tool lacks collaboration features for teamwork. Its user interface also leaves much to be desired.
Axure is an enterprise-grade wireframing and prototyping tool that is designed for website, mobile app, and even software projects. It comes with animation, adaptive views, and even conditional flow features that allow you to set user experience flow. Wireframe aside, you can also use it to create mockups, user journeys, flowcharts, idea boards, and more. If you are looking to do wireframing, prototyping, and diagramming in one tool, Axure is a pretty good choice. But, unfortunately, the learning curve might be steep for some.
Pricing: Pro: Subscribe: $29 (per user, per month), Buy: $495 (per user); Team: Subscribe: $49 (per user, per month), Buy: $895 (per user); Enterprise: $99 (per user, per month)
Though known as a diagram maker, Gliffy has built-in wireframing features and capabilities and works greatly as a wireframing tool. It lets you create wireframes for websites and apps and share and collaborate with others. The tool also comes with customisable wireframe templates, forms and shapes with drag-and-drop capabilities. The great thing is that it’s affordable and you receive diagramming and wireframing in one tool. It also integrates with Atlassian’s JIRA AND Confluence for enhanced workflows.
Pricing: Personal: $7.99 (single user), Team: $4.99 (per user), Enterprise: Custom (per month, billed annually)
ProtoShare is a web-based wireframing and prototyping tool that you can use to create interactive wireframes for websites (desktop and mobile responsive) and mobile apps. It enables easy, seamless team collaboration on projects and acts as a single repository for all your team communications complete with review and comment features. It also lets you streamline your work by creating Masters and Templates from scratch and reusing them across pages and projects. It comes with a library of interactive items and widgets you can simply drag and drop to make your wireframes interactive and engaging. The major drawback of ProtoShare is the not-so-competitive pricing (for those who are price sensitive).
Pricing: Standard: $29, Professional: $49, Business: $59 (per editor, per month)
9. Frame Box
Frame Box is a completely free wireframing tool that is readily available to be used on any web browser. It’s straightforward and easy to use with drag and drop elements. It allows you to store projects for a limited time and share as unique URL links. In addition, it offers three modes in total: edit, preview, and comment. The comment mode lets you drag and drop comments on any specific areas and save. Keep in mind, however, that this tool is suitable for very simple wireframes only. Look elsewhere if you want sophisticated or advanced features and functionalities like collaboration and interactivity.
MockFlow is a web-based wireframing tool that also allows for prototyping, UI mockups, UX suite, and UX planning. Dubbed separately as MockFlow WireframePro, the wireframing tool runs on both Mac and Windows. It also boasts thousands of wireframe templates in its MockSotre that you can search and import for immediate use. Additionally, it comes with readily-made component packs you can use for any user interface such as Apple Watch, iPad, and Web. Its forever-free basic plan is another bonus for those who aren’t ready to pay yet.
Pricing: Basic: $0 (1 user), Premium: $14 (1 user), Teampack: $29 (3 users), Enterprise: $89 (30 users) (per month, billed annually)
UXPin is a wireframing, UX design, and prototyping tool that boasts companies such as HBO, PayPal, and Microsoft among its top clients. It not only comes with share, comment, and review features, but it also has features such as approval request, task assignment, and Slack and email notification for you to streamline workflows. Plus, it automatically keeps all your style guide for each design in one place. Administrators can also set team and role-based permission access and lock up important projects. If you are looking for solid wireframing and sophisticated UX design and prototyping in one tool, UXPin will be worth it.
Pricing: Free: $0, Professional: $20, Team: $79, Enterprise: Custom (per month, billed monthly)
Sketch is a powerful design, wireframing, and prototyping tool that claimed to have powered big brands such as Apple, Facebook, and Nintendo. One thing that sets Sketch apart from the rest is the fact that it constantly updates its system and refreshes its look and feel for maximum speed and efficiency. Its minimal design tool allows you to design wireframes, prototypes, and more with tons of features such as non-destructive editing and dynamic data and content. Unlike others, Sketch also offers hundreds of third-party plugins that you can install and use along with the tool for additional functionality. On the downside, there is only annual billing option.
Pricing: $99 per year
Figma is another wireframing tool that offers a forever-free plan with 2 editors and 3 projects. It allows you to easily create, design, and share wireframes with anyone with a live URL link. It also supports real-time collaboration on the same file without interference of versioning or overlapping. Like many, it also has a pre-made Wireframe Kit for helping you to jump start a project. Another great benefit of Figma is its affordability compared to other competitors.
Pricing: Starter: $0, Professional: $12, Organisation: $45 (per editor, per month)
Moqups is a popular wireframing, UI prototyping, and design platform that claims to be widely used by 1 million users and companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Intel. The platform is designed for real-time planning, designing, and collaborating. It comes with a built-in library of thousands of popular icon sets and stencil kits with drag-and-drop functionality. You can even drag and drop images right from your desktop or apps to import them to the cloud-based platform. Plus, its powerful Page Management is able to handle any complex projects with impressive flexibility and scalability.
Pricing: Creative Team: $19 (3 users, $6 per each additional user), Personal: $13 (single users), Enterprise: Custom (per month, billed annually)
HotGloo described itself as a “next level wireframing and prototyping tool” that is well trusted by renowned brands such as Disney, Deloitte, and IBM. It’s easy to use and has one of the lowest learning curves in the industry with tutorials and a knowledge base. It’s also available as mobile apps on Android and iOS for working on-the-fly. With it, you can easily create and design highly interactive wireframes with over 2000 elements in its vast library. Use its 7-day free trial to find out if it’s right for you.
Pricing: Group: $13, Team: $27, Agency: $54, Enterprise: Custom (per month, billed annually)
Marvel is an all-in-one design platform that allows you to do wireframing, prototyping, user testing, and general design. Its wireframing tool offers templates for web, Android, iOS, Apple TV, and even Apple Watch. It also has hundreds of simple wireframe assets for every device that you can simply drag-and-drop to use. Also, you can integrate the platform with apps such as Slack, Dropbox, and Confluence to accelerate your workflow. The best thing about Marvel yet is actually it’s beautiful, intuitive, and pleasant design and user interface.
Pricing: Free: $0, Pro: $12, Team: $42, Team Plus: $84 (per month, billed annually)
Proto.io is a wireframing and prototyping tool that is catered towards user experience testing. As a wireframing tool, it not only lets you create interactive wireframes, but you can also test how users interact with your wireframes and gather early user feedback. You can either directly embed your wireframes into a website or submit them to user testing platforms. Proto.io is available on Android, iOS, desktop, or the web browser. It also offers a risk-free, 15-day free trial.
pricing: Freelance: $24, Startup: $40, Agency: $80, Corporate: $160 (per month, billed annually)
Cacoo is a cloud-based wireframe software that lets you create wireframes for webpages and mobile apps. It comes with a vast collection of wireframe templates for Android, iOS, and desktop website. Like many, it also allows you to collaborate with your team members in real time with the comment and co-edit features. All your designs and wireframes will automatically be saved and synced on cloud so everyone is on the same page. Team management and file management are also included.
Pricing: $5 per user, per month (minimum 3 users)
Wirefy is a free, open source wireframing tool that is highly configurable and flexible. The great thing about Wirefy is that you have full control over the tool and you can tweak it to fit your needs. Not to mention, it’s totally free. Unfortunately for the less tech savvy, the tool requires technical skills to install and get started. If you are a web developer or possess technical skills, Wirefy can be one of the most powerful, free tools out there.
LucidChart is popular, versatile wireframing, diagramming, and design software that is easy to use with a drag-and-drop interface. It has a variety of elements, shapes, templates, widgets, UI containers, and more that are extremely helpful when creating wireframes quickly. Collaboration-wise, it boasts the group chat feature that many don’t have. Plus, the software is cheaper than many other competitors and it is scalable no less. If you are looking for a wireframing and all-in-one enterprise design tool, you will love this!
Pricing: Free: $0, Pro: $9.95 per month (single user)
Starting building a website with great UX!
There you have it. That’s our top 20 design & wireframing tools overview. No matter which one you decide to work with, it will enable you to come up with stunningly designed wireframes that show the skeletal framework of your websites or mobile apps at a glance. In return, your concepts and their usability will be proved, consensus built, approvals gained, and before you know it, you get to move on to prototyping!
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