The importance of wireframing and mockup tools is rather unnecessary to explain; we all know they were created to make our web development process a little easier. They are also crucial when we want to communicate our prototype’s usability and functionality to clients.But with the ocean of wireframing tools that are available today, it can be troublesome to pick the best of the best.
So below we have compiled a list of 8 tools that will help you in every situation.
Balsamiq Mockups is a wireframing tool that includes several drag-and-drop elements, all in the style of hand-drawing. Why do we like Balsamiq so much? Because it makes you feel like you are drawing a draft on paper, and that feeling does give you the freedom to do more tweaking here and there, as well as giving out feedbacks.
We also love it because all the elements are there and you only need to arrange them. In fact, we have used Balsamiq for the WooRockets site, and this is how we did it:
Balsamiq Mockups is great with the ideas phase of the project, however, with such simplicity, it is not much of a prototyping tool for showing off to clients.
One of our core wireframing tools, FlairBuilder brings creative, interactive wireframes for both websites and mobile applications. And unlike Balsamiq, FlairBuilder has both ‘high-fidelity’ and ‘low-fidelity’ modes that you can switch back and forth between to suit your need, whether it is drawing out the basic concept or creating a prototype for a client.
You can even add events to elements to make them interactive. FlairBuilder’s versatility is a sure win.
A classic in designing wireframes and prototypes for web, Fireworks is still one of our ‘go-to’ software tools, despite an ocean full of wireframing and mockups apps out there. Not just because we, as designers, are accustomed to using core Adobe products, but because the design in Fireworks can be adjusted to pixel point and then exported to CSS file with ease. If you want to create a static web page, everything can be done with only Fireworks.
Another plus point of Fireworks is that it works seamlessly with Dreamweaver. You can jump back and forth between the two softwares packages without any problems. For example, if you want to edit the appearance of one element in Dreamweaver, you can simply click on it in ‘Edit with Fireworks’, and voila, you are there.
InVision was included in our ‘must-have’ list a while ago, so we do indeed adore this software. With InVision, you can link up UX sketches, designs, and wireframes, and then present a ‘near-ready’ prototype with your teammates. InVision makes your prototype more interactive, easier to visualize and easier to receive feedback from your team.
Though it’s good for the ideas phase of wireframing, InVision is more fully utilized at the simulation phase, when a little bit of real-life action with the design can go a long way. And there are possibly thousands of layers in your design, which could make finding a mistake difficult at that time, so InVision ‘click and comment’ system is a sweet extra. After all, InVision is created to make our design collaboration a more comfortable road.
Indigo Studio might seem a bit pricey compared to other software of the same type, but there is a reason why Indigo has become one of the hottest wireframing tools in the recent times. Not only does Indigo provide you with the traditional layout of a UI tool, it also gives you storyboard mode, allowing designers to put together the users’ journeys in broad overview. Also, once you have all your elements in place, you can include a set of interactions to make a clickable prototype.
One powerful feature of this software: With Indigo, you can import your static mockups from Balsamiq and make them interactive. However, there have also been complaints about Indigo Studio, mostly about its data plan and limited annotations. Many people are satisfied with it, while others still think Indigo is a bit lacking compared to its price. What is your opinion?
Price: $289 – $589
Another famous prototyping tool is Axure. Axure is known for its efficiency in creating interactive prototypes quickly and without any knowledge of front-end coding. Focusing most on UX, Axure gives you the ability to create highly functional, rich prototypes with conditional logic, dynamic content, animations and calculations.
On the other hand, because Axure is a pure prototyping tool, its feature for documenting process flows and integrating prototypes with other UX-related documents has never been a priority. Axure also does not provide much of an environment for collaboration, as InVision does.
If you are not that experienced and you find the tools above, especially Axure, hard to use, then UXPin might be the answer for you. UXPin offers you a complete tool kit of useful design elements and pattern with easy drag-and-drop, and you can map out your site online with an infinite number of people. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s responsive. Nearly everything you need for a good design can be found in UXPin.
Because UXPin is made for beginners, of course, their interactions are more limited than Axure or Indigo. However, if you are only looking for something simple and your site is not that complicated, then you should give UXPin a go.
Price: from $24/month
For those out there who are creating a prototype for mobile devices, then let us introduce you to Proto.io, the prototyping tool that will cater to your every needs. Be it you want to see gestures, touch events, animations or screen transitions, Proto.io can bring it to you. In just a few minutes, your interactive interfaced prototype is complete, and you can test it on any actual device that you like.
The drawback of Proto.io is also its highlight; you can create prototypes for PC, but it’s not nearly as magical because Proto.io is made for touch features.
Above are 8 prototyping tools that you can use, from the basic ideas phase to full-blown prototype testing. Have you ever used any of these tools? Do you find them efficient or else? Comment below and let us know.