When a new web design project gets underway, designers reach for a wireframe tool before anything else.
Wireframing a new website or app can help reduce the overall spend and time spent on a project, by providing all parties involved with a visualization of the end product from the get go — which means less tweaking later on.
What Is a Wireframe tool?
A wireframe tool, also known as wireframe software, is a program that lets designers (and even web design novices) mockup page structures and elements with a drag-and-drop interface. The resulting image is referred to as a wireframe.
A wireframe is like a blueprint for your website’s design — a bit like a floor plan for a home or building. Devoid of colors, font choices, logos and other motifs, it illustrates the structure of a web page by detailing the positioning and size of page elements like the navigator bar, sidebar elements, CTA buttons, images, hero text and so forth. Just like a floor plan, it’s meant to give an accurate, top-level representation of the final design.
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Top 10 Wireframing Software
Due to their prominent usage, a quick google search will throw up a mass of wireframe software for you to choose from. To simplify the selection process, we’ve compiled a list of the top wireframe tools of 2018. The following list of wireframe builders was put together after careful consideration, taking into account the existence of enterprise features, each platform’s enterprise clientele and testimonials, as well as the platform’s status and popularity within software review sites and industry reports.
Balsamiq is a wireframe solution that integrates with Google Drive, Atlassian Confluence Cloud, Confluence Server, JIRA Cloud and JIRA Server. It boasts version control, collaboration features and a wide array of UI elements that can be dragged-and-dropped into place.
As a fully-fledged UX, wireframe and prototyping tool, HotGloo can be used to edit, review and test wireframes on any mobile device. Along with real-time collaboration, HotGloo provides users with over 2,000 UI elements and icons housed in a drag-and-drop interface.
iRise is a responsive wireframe and prototype tool. It offers real-time collaboration, interactive diagram building, a host of third party integrations and the ability to import existing web pages so that projects never have to start from scratch.
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Mockflow allows users to build mockups, prototypes and style guides for maintaining a consistent UI across pages and channels. Mockflow can integrate with Trello for enhanced collaboration and packs its very own app store which is home to additional UI packs, components and templates.
With Axure you can create flowcharts, wireframes, mockups, user journeys and idea boards. Axure also lets users collaborate and annotate projects. Plus, as a prototyping tool, Axure empowers users with the ability to produce rich prototypes with conditional logic, dynamic content, animations, math functions and data-driven interactions without writing any code.
Pidoco has a large library of UI elements, a drag-and-drop interface, annotations and clickable shapes so that your CTA buttons and navigation bar can act as they would when the project is complete. You can go a step further by producing fully interactive prototypes to simulate what your application will really feel like.
Wireframe.cc is a free and open-source browser-based wireframe software that takes pride in offering a limited set of templates and colors. Their website claims that by limiting the user in this way ensures that ideas, “never get lost in unnecessary decorations and fancy styles”. Their user interface is almost minimalist for similar reasons.
With a range of integrated stencil kits for both mobile-app and web design — including iOS, Android, and Bootstrap, a Moqups user can drag-and-drop their way to a wireframe. Plus, there are plenty of icon sets and fonts to choose from along with comments, real-time collaboration and the ability to prototype your wireframe with interactive buttons and pages.
LucidChart serves up a free wireframe builder with G-Suite, JIRA, Jive and Slack integration baked in. The drag-and-drop interface is complemented by group chats and comments, revision history and a presentation mode so that you can showcase your efforts to the rest of the team.
NinjaMock lets you construct a wireframe in real time with colleagues and then organize them in the cloud. Wireframes can then be shared and tested on any device, by anybody with access. Plus, NinjaMock claims to be the “only online wireframe tool which includes a vector editor."
Bonus: A Pen & Paper
The greatness of a wireframe lies in its simplicity. You can mockup any web page design with a simple pen and paper, or even with a stylus and tablet.
What’s your favorite way to design and share wireframes?