It's been more than six months since we published our popular list of the Top 5 Wireframing Tools. Since then various readers have been eager to share with us their experience with the tools they have used for wireframing, information architecture and interaction design. We hear you!
Therefore, herewith we are are expanding the list, adding details and tying-in updates on the latest releases.
For Navigable Designs
Originally started as an internal project of the Virtual Training Company to help communicate ideas between different members of the team based in Australia, USA and India. Offered to the rest of us, iPlotz is a web-based tool for quickly sketching wireframes of websites and demonstrating navigation between pages.
A straightforward interface allows designers to create rough sketches of web pages and link them together. Combining drag-and-drop functionality with representational elements that enable wireframe designers to focus clients on concepts and functions without getting into design specifics, iPlotz lets users rapidly create clickable, navigable mockups and wireframes for prototyping websites and software applications.
Once a project is created, wireframe pages are added, users can share and discuss with others.
iPlotz User Interface
Features of iPlotz include:
- Compatibility with windows, mac or linux with flash enabled browsers
- Add, delete, rename multiple pages for your sitemap
- Upload, drag and drop your own images onto a page
- Export pages as png, jpg or pdf
- Invite others to comment on pages
- Share editing rights with others on projects, so that they can modify wireframes too
- Add tasks for project members to handle coding and design
Users can open one project with up to 20 pages for free. The subscription price is US$ 99 per year.
For the Windows User
The crowd cried foul when we neglected to include Visio in our first list of wireframing tools. Visio 2007 boasts itself as a tool for IT and business professionals who need to visualize systems, processes and other information for insight and communication.
Users can create simple layouts using Microsoft Office Visio. There are a few tools that provide website mapping by allowing you to create an up-to-date, basic graphical representation of the site's structure and contents.
When you map your site, Visio follows each link within the parameters you've specified and tracks any errors it encounters. In addition, users can track their work using the Web Site Map comparison report, where two versions of your site can be compared to quantify the changes made over a given period of time. This might be helpful if there are multiple people working on the project.
Features of Visio include:
- Conceptual Web Site template
- Graphical representation of the site's structure and contents
- Ability to generate a list of the broken links and errors
- Web Site Map comparison report
- Easily refresh data in diagrams
- Integrate diagrams into other Microsoft Office applications
- Collaborate with colleagues on the same diagram
- Convert diagrams to multiple formats and share with others
- Collaborate using Microsoft Windows SharePoint
A 60-day free trial is available and there are various commercial pricing options.
For the Mac User
Omnigraffle (Mac only)
Omnigraffle is a diagramming application made by The Omni Group and built specifically and exclusively for Mac OS X.
Users cans create simple and complex diagrams, flow charts, organization charts and illustrations. It features a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG interface. Similar to Microsoft Visio, OmniGraffle Pro can both import and export Visio files created using Visio's XML export function.
OmniGraffle 5 can also open Visio's native binary .vsd files. OmniGraffle takes full advantage of Mac OS X's graphics layer, known as Quartz and benefits from on-the-fly antialiasing, smooth scaling, transparent drop shadowing and other features.
Features of the OmniGraffle Pro include:
- New Layout Engine
- Bézier Lines
- Bézier Shapes
- Mini Inspectors
- Style Tray
- Stencil Search
- Outline View
- Multiple Page Documents
- Diagram Styles
- Improved Import/Export: PDF, PICT, OmniOutliner
- Graphing Tools
- Smart Guides
- Auto Layout
OmniGraffle creates objects in the main window, automatically laying them out
Pricing ranges from US$ 99 to US$ 199 with upgrades available for $39.95. More information available at www.omnigroup.com.
For the Non Designer
The product allows you to sketch screen mock-ups of your application and organize them into various end-user scenarios.
Users can experiment interactively with clients and quickly visualize scenarios of applications -- before the coding has started. MockupScreens is easy to use and makes you productive immediately. You don't have to know programming and you don't have to be an artist to create great screens.
Features of Mockup Screens include:
- Screens and Scenarios
- Fast Screen Drawing
- Standard Set Of Screen Elements
- Additional Elements For Web Applications
- Integrated slideshow feature
- Export one or all scenarios to HTML
- "Mockup" Look And Feel
- Screen Annotations With Icons And Comments
MockupScreens: You can also sketch web pages. Great time saver is collection of predefined 'dummy' images. Of course, you can add your own images as well.
Pricing ranges from US$ 79 to US$ 319 with educational discounts and maintenance plans available. For more information visit www.mockupscreens.com.
For Advanced Budgets and Analysts
iRise is a single user, standalone visualization authoring tool allowing individual business analysts, interface designers and project managers employ visualization techniques to get business critical software projects to market faster. That's the company line.
iRise simulates the workflow and basic behavior of proposed business applications through direct communication with stakeholders via interactive requirements gathering sessions.
In other words, iRise is not your typical wireframing tool. It's really about requirements automation and streamlining the business application design process. The price reflects this difference.
iRise Enterprise Edition includes:
- Self-guided stakeholder walkthroughs
- Powerful comments management functions
- SmartView™ definition
- Export into self-contained files called iDocs
- Facilitated multi-user usability tests
- Check-in/Check-out for disconnected authoring
- Secure access to critical intellectual property through LDAP enabled user authentication
Used in synch with interactive simulations, iRise Manager is a requirements automation solution designed to help teams be productive quickly
Pricing: US$ 6,995 per seat. Free 30-day trial available as well as free online training. More information at www.irise.com.
For the Designer
Axure RP Pro is a rapid wireframing and prototyping tool used by professionals responsible for defining requirements and specifications for an application, and designing the user interface and functionality.
Creating wireframes and prototypes in Axure RP Pro helps you design more efficiently, experience your design, present and engage stakeholders, automate specifications and design collaboratively with team members.
Annotated wireframes are created in a drag and drop environment. Basic links and advanced interactions are defined on the wireframe without programming. From the wireframes, an interactive HTML prototype is automatically generated, along with documentation (in MS Word format).
Update: In October, Axure released RP Pro 5.1 an update that enabled remote collaboration on shared projects and included a number of enhancements and fixes. In December, RP Pro 5.5 Beta was made available. This release added the ability to create custom widget libraries for the Widget pane, new interaction capabilities for high fidelity prototyping, easier Dynamic Panel management and enhancements to widgets and diagram editing.
Features of Axure RP Pro 5.1 include:
- Main Menu & Toolbar
- Sitemap Pane
- Menu widget fix that affected prototype generation
- Masters Pane
- Wireframe Pane
- Interactions pane improvements for handling many cases
- Annotations Pane
- Pages Notes & Page Interactions Pane
- Interactivity and Conditional Flow
- Dynamic Annotations
- Instant Documentation
- Built-in and Branded Templates
- Word 2007 specification generation fixes
- Flow Diagrams
- Shared projects stored on an SVN server
- Cancel options on interactions dialogs
- Ability to have “placeholder” cases with no actions
- Dynamic Elements
The Axure RP environment with a brief description of each area in the interface
Pricing ranges from US$ 149 to US$ 589. Educational and volume discounts are available. More information at www.axure.com
For the Free-Form Thinker
Update: In November MindJet released MindManager Pro 8 and MindManager Web, two new products that aim to help individuals save significant amounts of time, conquer information overload and become more effective. Additionally, Mindjet released powerful publishing capabilities with the release of the all-new Mindjet Player. Fully interactive mind maps can be freely shared to create breakthroughs in productivity and innovation. Pro 8 is available for Windows, while Mac Users can use Pro 7 edition.
MindManager Pro is software that inspires people and businesses to align individuals and teams to achieve critical strategic goals. MindManager’s intuitive and interactive visual maps capture and organize the knowledge and experience of your people and consolidate data from other desktop tools in one location for quick access. The maps clearly communicate ideas and information, unleashing the creativity of your people and enabling them to work faster and smarter – and generate measurable results.
Touted as a free-form thinking, highly visual, interactive technology designed to capture ideas, data and knowledge in a limitless arrangement that lends clarity to any task or project. Users can build meaningful, multi-dimensional relationships between information – and share it with everyone on your team.
Features of MindJet Manager include:
- MindJet Player
- Embedded Browser
- Integrated Microsoft Office File Editor
- Integrated Web Services
- Searchable Maps
- Automated Task Management
- Database Linker
- Core Mapping
- Multi-Map Workspace
- Information Organization
- Topic Styles
- Topic Sorting
- Power Select/Filter
- Visual Elements
- Microsoft Visio® Export
- Topic Alerts
- Macro Editor
Evaluating potential solutions is a process which leads to the selection of the best of several alternatives. This map helps you identify a variety of alternatives and compare them.
Pricing ranges from US$ 174 to US$ 349. English and German versions of MindManager 8 and MindManager Web are available immediately. French and Japanese versions will be available in early 2009. More information is available at www.mindjet.com
Anything we missed? Feel passionate about a wireframe tool not mentioned? Tell us what you think.