It is common sense for anybody building their own house to make a blueprint of it first, to design the home to its optimal usage. Similarly, your design journey is incomplete without creating wireframes. A wireframe is a graphic mockup that borders the structure of your product – a website, an app, or a landing page. The power of the wireframe lies in its simplicity – elements can be rearranged swiftly for improvement before moving on to a prototype.
UX designers make use of the best wireframing tools to evaluate the flow and operation of the product before taking up the visual design. Some of the best wireframing tools enable users to prioritize and prepare an understandable option.
What Makes Some of the Best Wireframing Tools?
Some of the best wireframing tools you can choose from also need to fit your unique setup and thinking process. In our current situation, the wireframe must be digital and easily shared virtually with multiple collaborators so they can request for revisions before moving on to the next stage.
While researching for the best wireframing tools, I came across this other article online, which had essential wireframing criteria. The author also mentioned the selection of these tools after considering a variety of factors like responsive design and flexibility for various design teams. Here they are-
- Updated software – Some of the popular wireframing tools have not been updated for several years.
- Pre-designed or uploadable UI kit – Some of these tools will give you a built-in UI component library or the ability to upload pre-designed kits from third parties apps.
- Various levels of mockup fidelity: Some of the best prototyping tools represent a full range of capabilities – with low-fidelity wireframes or high-fidelity mockups.
Aptitudes of Wireframing
Some of the best wireframing tools include some of the features mentioned below –
- A grid-based structure.
- A library with multiple UI modules.
- Software with the ability to drag-and-drop.
- Numerous wireframe templates.
- Ability to share and collaborate, such as feedback and threading.
- Evaluation of the product.
Free Wireframe Tools
Here are some of the best wireframing tools. Free-of-charge, of course.
Pencil Project is one of the free wireframe tools that is great for wireframing, mockup and prototyping. It is free-of-cost and often utilized by freelancers. It is also compatible for both Mac and Windows and as a Firefox add-on. You can choose from a variety of templates for both mobile and web. Although quite a few users feel that Pencil Project is a bit outdated and could use better features. Furthermore, people wanting to design mid or high-fidelity wireframes are most likely want to use different software.
Frame Box is an entirely free wireframing tool, best for projects with limited budgets. However, it’s a bit basic and not the best to develop a detailed wireframe. It is perfect for smaller and less complicated projects, though. Like I said before, it’s unlikely that Frame Box is going to be anyone’s permanent option, but it will have a lighter impact on your wallet.
Jumpchart is one of the free wireframe tools that is all about collaboration. Its design enables an entire team to cooperate easily on a project. You can export the design to WordPress as a layout to create a fluidity between the wireframe and your visual strategies.
Wirefly is one of the downloadable free wireframe tools which goes through some regular iterations. It is not a web-hosted tool and requires installation. It is made for both designers and developers, providing a better degree of control in your approach. This tool also allows easy implementation of wireframes into WordPress, etc.
Microsoft Wireframe Tools
Let us talk about some of the best wireframing tools available at Microsoft Store or Microsoft AppSource.
Mockup Pro – Wireframe and Interface Design
Mockup Pro is easy-to-use the wireframing tool available at Microsoft Store to create quick and professional-quality mockups and wireframes. You can easily edit and customize mockup controls using customization wizards and export the diagrams to PDF, PNG and JPG formats as well.
The app comes in a trial version which is fully functional for the first fourteen days.
Express your ideas visually with the WireframePro add-in for Office available at Microsoft AppSource. You can draw and attach UI wireframes directly to your Office document with this add-in. You can browse and link existing wireframe projects. WireframePro also comes with a drawing tool with numerous mockup UI components for iOS, web, and more!
Although, you need to register with MockFlow.com account to access the add-in. Intuitively, the add-in itself provides an option of creating an account.
Freehand by InVision
Freehand by InVision introduces a way to collaborate creatively. Freehand is an infinite whiteboard, available at Microsoft AppSource, where your colleagues can draw, map, wireframe, and gain feedback. Your teammates can use simple tools like write, sketch, and comment to examine ideas in real-time. Anyone can contribute to Freehand. It helps the design team build better products.
Anyone in Guest mode can use Freehand in Microsoft Teams. InVision.com powers Freehand, and they can ask you to create an account, which in turn would work multiplatform.
Best Wireframing Tools
As you can see, below mentioned are some of the best wireframing tools that help you through your design journey.
UX Pin is a cloud-based wireframe tool. It is favoured amongst designers as it is easy-to-use and versatile – two fundamental grounds that make it reputable. It is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows. The easy drag-and-drop functionality gives you the chance to bring your wireframe to life visually. UX Pin has numerous UI components for mobile, cloud-based and web wireframes.
UX Pin has four different plans with different prices and features. Among them, three will have free trials, although you are required to login to get started.
One of the best wireframing tools to pass wireframes off to third-party apps
Since 2010, Sketch has been amongst some of the best wireframing tools for macOS users. You can quickly create wireframes with numerous combinations. The interface is candid and more intuitive than vector design heavyweight Adobe Illustrator. Although you would have to download a UI kit from a third party to breathe life into your wireframe as Sketch wireframe doesn’t include UI components.
Sketch charges $99/year; After a year, you can use the tool without any software updates. There are also a few bugs in the interface that people have reported over time, like a lag in duplicating simple shapes. It can be frustrating. However, these glitches are just blips in a great app.
One of the best wireframing tools for real-time collaboration
Figma stands apart as a powerful cloud-based alternative to some of the best wireframing tools like Sketch or XD. It incredibly affordable and gives some decent features that work well in an association. Wireframing with Figma is instantaneous. You can also use the Figma constraints to program each element to respond to various screen sizes. Figma’s exceptional feature is in its team collaboration opportunities. As it’s a web-based app, multiple team members can work on the file simultaneously.
You can use Figma for free up to three projects; the Professional plan costs $12/month (per user), for which you pay once a year.
One of the best wireframing tools for wireframing interaction design flows.
The shape drawing and grid-lined canvas are a perfect way to create rough wireframes. But Moqups stands above the flowchart-as-wireframe competition by understanding that there’s more to prototyping than connecting shapes with arrows. You can create your basic wireframe while making logical markups, so you can identify how the UX will flow within your design. You can easily create a static wireframe of your interactions for feedback or switch over to Flowchart view at your convenience.
The Free Plan Moqups offers is of 1 project along with 5MB of storage — to get you fired up! You can also choose between the Pro or Unlimited plans for $16 and $49 a month, paid annually. The only difference between them is the number of editors who can access the file.
Best Wireframing Tools for Product Managers
Behind every successful project lies crystal clear communication within the team. When you want to shape your ideas, you understand that a wireframing tool is your best option. This list will help you choose from some of the best wireframing tools in the business.
I have categorized these best wireframing tools based on enterprise, web, and desktop.
Axure RP – Best Enterprise Tool for Wireframing
Axure RP is amongst the best wireframing toolsfor large businesses. Using this, product managers can create and share interactive designs with their teams. It’s a powerful program that allows you to do almost anything you can imagine in terms of designing a life-like wireframe. Also, multiple users can work on the project together in real-time. Axure RP makes sharing design files very easy. One of its catches is that Axure RP uses a lot of memory to render and export large projects, which slows it down from time to time.
Axure RP offers perpetual license pricing at $589 per user or $539 per user for more than five users.
Balsamiq Wireframes – Best Web Tool for Wireframing
Or is it Balsamiq Mockups? Either way, Balsamiq is a web-based wireframing tool that works best for static and low-fidelity prototypes. Product managers who use this tool find it as easy as drawing on a whiteboard. Also, it is affordable compared to other enterprise solutions in the market. Balsamiq wireframes are a choice for Product Managers who can help sketch product concepts in early-stages of development. It does not possess features like others.
Balsamiq wireframes offer project-based pricing that ranges between two projects for $9 per month to 200 projects for $199 per month.
Adobe XD and JustinMind – Best Desktop Tools for Wireframing
Any fan of Adobe products will fall in love with Adobe XD – Adobe’s solution for wireframing and prototypes. Users can create and share mockups speedily. The learning curve is shallow, for those who have previously used Adobe products. The one catch with Adobe XD is that it does not offer real-time collaboration on projects. Adobe XD is priced depending on whether you want Adobe’s other creative apps. For unlimited prototypes with 100GB of cloud storage, Adobe XD at $9.99 per month.
JustinMind is a flexible desktop wireframe tool for those who want low-fidelity clickable wireframes to full UI prototypes. It is a flexible and straightforward interface that makes it a favourite. JustinMind has many features making it a good fit for any project. It’s also priced reasonably compared to other programs and allows real-time collaboration with team members. For more advanced users, the learning curve is intuitive. JustinMind offers two plans depending on your level of usage – the professional program is for $19 a month, and the enterprise plan is for $39 a month.
When choosing the best wireframing tools, start by considering your goal for the wireframe itself. Do you want collaboration features? Do you plan to turn the wireframe into an interactive prototype in the later phases? Will you be passing on your wireframes directly to your team of developers for implementation?
And remember, it all depends on what you want to accomplish with the wireframe.