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Whatever type of website, mobile app, or desktop app you’re building, wireframe tools will help you sketch out the structure, flow, and separate elements. Wireframe tools are useful for both designers and businesses so that everyone can get an impression of the idea behind the proposed site or app before it's fixed. Once you might have just sketched on paper, but wireframe tools make it easier to share, save, and edit your ideas.
Not all wireframe tools are the same – some focus more on creativity and speed, others help create a slick prototype. Different tools have better sharing capabilities, are easier to use for beginners, or are more versatile in building mock-ups of apps as well as websites. Here are the main questions to ask when you look for the best wireframe tools for your next project.
There are essentially 2 types of wireframe tools; the ones that aim to help you create a fully working prototype, and the ones that encourage you to think fast and creatively by drawing a rough sketch. Balsamiq falls into the second category. It intentionally keeps your mock-ups rough and low-fidelity so that you can display all the possibilities in your designs and get as much feedback as possible. Wireframe.CC shares this approach, keeping colors and icons to a minimum so that you’ll focus on your rough sketches.
On the opposing end of the scale, you'll find wireframe tools like UXPin and Axure, which enable you to create a fully interactive and animated prototype. UXPin allows you to create and pin documentation onto prototypes as well as auto-generating style guides and specs, while Axure lets you include dynamic content, conditional flows, and other tools. Moqups straddles both approaches, encouraging you to start with a rough sketch but containing the ability to process it all the way to a working prototype.
Creating a wireframe website or app is much faster when you can draw on an extensive library of elements, templates, and forms. Many wireframe tools stand out for the huge number of elements they offer to users. HotGloo has over 2,000 UI elements that you can import into your wireframe, FluidUI offers 16 different libraries of elements for iOS, Android, Windows, and other formats which you can drag and drop into your prototype to create pages, and Justinmind provides a large collection of UI elements including buttons, shapes, and widgets for iOS, SAP, and Android. If you need inspiration, Mockflow might be a good choice with its range of templates that you can browse or buy for ongoing use.
While you can always export or download your wireframe sketch in order to share it with your clients or colleagues, it’s far more convenient to be able to share your work in-app. Some wireframe tools are better than others at offering sharing and collaboration tools. Pidoco makes it easy to share prototypes online, gather feedback, discuss, and collaborate on versions. Moqups also offers real-time feedback, and with the ability to add unlimited users, you can invite the entire team to share their ideas. Balsamiq provides tools to encourage as much sharing and feedback as possible in order to spark productive discussion and collaboration.
Wireframe tools are not only for creating websites. If you're designing a new mobile or web app, you'll find that a wireframe mockup comes in handy. Balsamiq offers plenty of sketch and wireframe skin samples so you can design desktop and mobile apps as well as websites. UXPin and Axure are also among the wireframe tools that enable the creation of various types of apps.
There’s no one wireframe tool which is ideal for every user, partly because different designers are looking for different capabilities. If you’re an experienced website and app designer looking for full control over every aspect of the design process, you would probably prefer a tool like Axure or HotGloo, both of which include advanced capabilities and complex flows. However, beginners who are playing around with web design options without a great deal of experience could find those too complicated to work with. Mockflow is a much more simple and easy to use wireframe tool which is better for novices, or you could try Wireframe.CC for a basic, distraction-free interface that is easy to master.
Living in the mobile era means that it’s entirely normal to work on the go from a tablet or smartphone. Gone are the days when all design work took place at a desk, so it’s very convenient to be able to edit your work from your phone or check up on the latest round of edits while traveling with your tablet. UXPin and Axure both include the ability to view your design on multiple devices, and the Pidoco app makes it easy to open prototypes on your phone. HotGloo offers an entirely mobile-optimized interface so that you can look at the newest wireframe version and make changes from any device.
The whole point of creating a wireframe is to be able to put together a mockup in a short timeframe, so the more your wireframe tool helps you speed up the process, the better. The drag and drop nature of tools like UXPin make the process faster as well as easier since you can just quickly pull the elements you need into a full webpage. Balsamiq’s simplicity also encourages fast work since you’ll intentionally be directed to create a rough, low-fidelity mockup. Or, you could choose Wireframe.CC for a fast creation process, since the distraction-free sketching interface speeds up the actualization of your ideas.
Whether you’re creating an app or a website, have years of experience or have never made a wireframe before, there’s a wireframe tool that can help you out. Ask yourself the questions we noted above to choose the right wireframe for your needs, and get started on a new site today.