Wireframe tool is the bridge between raw creative thoughts and the final product. In the past, Photoshop is to occupy a major role in the UX/UI design field. However, “A recent design tools survey conducted by Khoi Vinh shows that Photoshop is slowly losing its popularity among designers. Answers from over 4,000 participants hailing from almost 200 countries prove that designers are open to new tools that ease the process of conceptualizing, wireframing, prototyping and designing digital products.” — From forbes
There are more wireframe tools on the market than ever, such as quite popular tool Axure or newly released Mockplus. Here we listed 8 wireframe and prototyping tools you must try in 2016. Some software can be used to create simple wireframes, while more advanced tools allow you to build a complete working prototype.
1. Axure RP
Axure RP Pro is a wireframing, rapid prototyping, documentation and specification software tool aimed at web and desktop applications. It offers drag and drop placement, resizing, and formatting of widgets. It is an robust UX tool and allows designers to create very advanced interactive prototypes, but it requires some time to master. If you are a professional designer, you can use Axure RP Pro to build more sophisticated, interactive prototypes.
Mockplus is a quick wireframe tool which is created by the fast-growing startup Jongde Software LLC. It is a desktop based application supports for software prototyping on multiple major platforms, such as mobile application, desktop application and website.
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New features in Mockplus 3.2:
UI flow design mode: Intelligent connections between pages which can be adjust manually
Repeater: Create repeated elements quickly with drag-and-drop.
Demo Projects and Templates: Various built-in templates help you to build your prototypes on them, easy and fast.
Sketch Import — Publish selected Sketch Artboards as a Team Project in Mockplus.
It is really a good choice for users at any level of experience because of the ease of use and the clean interface. If you are looking to create interactive prototypes in a minimum of time, then you can’t go pass Mockplus which enables you to totally focus on the design instead of spending time on learning the design tools. This tool provides the necessary UI widgets and icons and allows you to customize your widgets. You can preview your wireframe/ prototyping by exporting HTML/ image, or test it on a real device by scanning QR code.
Balsamiq Mockups is a rapid wireframe tool that helps you work faster & smarter. It reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard, but using a computer. The handwritten design is unique and the large library of UI elements is really helpful. It allows the designer to arrange pre-built widgets using a drag-and-drop editor. The application is offered in a desktop version as well as a plug-in for Google Drive, Confluence and JIRA.
Justinmind Prototyping tool is a UX tool for web and mobile app prototypes and high-fidelity website wireframes. It offers capabilities typically found in diagramming tools like drag and drop placement, re-sizing, formatting and export/import of widgets. In addition, it has features for annotating widgets and defining interactions such as linking, animations, conditional linking, calculations, simulating tab controls, show/hide elements and database simulation with real data. Justinmind is a great wireframe tool for those trying to get some sophisticated prototyping results. The downside is that there is a learning curve if you are not a professional designer.
InVision App is great for collaborating on design drafts and collecting feedback from colleagues and clients. With InVision, you can transform your static web & mobile (iOS, Android) designs into clickable, interactive wireframes and mockups rapidly. It allows you to make your mockups live.
6. UX Pin
UXPin is an online wireframe tool, which allows you to drag and drop various elements to mock up an interface without a single code. It’s a visual editor that allows you to choose elements and combine them together into a cohesive whole. It allows you to design hi-fi mockup, or import layered designs from Sketch and Photoshop.
OmniGraffle is a diagramming and digital illustration application for Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch created by The Omni Group. It’s an iOS desktop and tablet application that features several design tools, along with a drag-and-drop interface and a notes function that can allow users to annotate and create specification documentation for wireframes and prototypes. Origami is an ideal resource for prototyping for iPhone and iPad devices.
Flinto lets designers quickly make interactive wireframe/prototypes of their mobile, desktop, or web apps. It provides the tools to quickly create transition-based animations and the screen management to handle a large number of app screens. When you want wireframe of iOS apps, it is the right choice.
With built-in iOS, Material Design and Wireframe libraries containing over 2000 customizable widgets and icons, you can design and share a wireframe, mockup or prototype for any device or platform in minutes. FluidUI also features real-time collaboration for teams, video hangouts for user testing, on-device testing and interactive previews with chat/comments to share and iterate your designs with your team.
Wireframe tools are a dime a dozen and there is no best one. It all depends on personal preference and design style. If you prefer rapid wireframe tool and you are looking for one that is cheap, I’d recommend Mockplus as it is not as complex as Axure/Justinmind but robust than Balsamiq. If your can afford a very expensive license and want to build very sophisticated prototypes, you can consider Axure.