If you want to create any kind of digital product, wireframe tools are indispensable because they allow you to visualize your product before investing time and effort into development. With so many available options, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one best fits your needs. To help you navigate the myriad of solutions, we've compiled a list of the top 5 wireframing tools you should consider.
But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is a wireframe?
Wireframes give a concise blueprint of a website’s or app’s arrangement, design, data structure, user journey, features, and desired actions. Since wireframes typically depict the initial product idea, they often have a low-fidelity outcome with minimal styling, colors, and graphics.
Why is a wireframe important in product design and development?
- They help visualize and organize ideas
Wireframing allows designers and developers to visualize and organize their thoughts and ideas. It helps them outline a product's basic structure and layout, including its key components and functionality, before diving into the details of the design.
- They provide a blueprint for UX
Wireframes serve as a valuable tool in creating a blueprint for the user experience (UX). Designers can construct a basic framework for their product to concentrate on the overall flow and usability, guaranteeing that the user's experience with the product is sensible and straightforward. This process enables designers to adjust and improve the UX without being distracted by visual design elements.
- They enhance collaboration and communication
Collaboration and communication are other benefits of wireframing. It is a communication tool between designers, developers, and stakeholders, providing a common visual language to discuss and iterate on the product's features and functionality. Wireframes can bridge the gap between team members by clearly understanding the product's structure and interactions.
- They help identify design challenges
Wireframing is also an effective way to identify potential issues or challenges in the product's design before investing significant time and resources into development. By creating a low-fidelity representation, designers and developers can quickly iterate and refine the concept, saving time and effort in the long run.
- They’re useful for gathering feedback
Finally, wireframes can be shared with users or stakeholders to gather feedback early in the design process. By involving users at this stage, designers can uncover potential usability issues and make necessary improvements based on users' needs. The iterative nature of wireframing allows for continuous feedback, resulting in a better end product.
Now that you have a general understanding of wireframing and its benefits, let’s have a look at the top wireframe tools!
Top wireframe tools in 2023
Visily is an AI-powered UI design tool for non-designers. The software can be used to design both wireframes and high-fidelity mockups. Visily gives you access to design more visualized wireframes - instead of placeholders, you have tons of design elements in the UI library to drag and drop to design. You can still create basic wireframes using basic shapes and text to create your vision if you don’t want to use the templated approach. The AI features in Visily support assisted design improvements during the wireframing process.
Why you should use Visily
- AI-powered features: Visily is the pioneer tool in utilizing AI technology to offer various features such as Screenshot-to-Design, Text-to-Design, and Sketch-to-Design. With these features, users can easily and quickly create wireframes. This tool takes care of both the visual and written aspects of wireframe creation.
- Intuitive UI: Design high-fidelity mockups is now easy and intuitive. Use Visily’s AI function as your design assistant prompting solutions to color mismatches. The editor is straightforward; you’ll experience an almost flat learning curve when using the tool.
- Rich component and template library: Choose from hundreds of web and mobile app templates prebuilt for any of your projects. Save time by starting with a solid design and then building customized features for your project with Visily.
- Simple theme generation: Visily offers a selection of pre-built design themes and design features. To assist you in creating a design that meets your requirements, you can either select a theme based on keywords or use images as inspiration.
- Real-time collaboration: Build your workspaces with Visily and share your designs via web browser with your entire team. Visily supports real-time and multi-device collaboration.
Miro is an online visual collaboration platform designed to unlock creativity and accelerate innovation among teams of all kinds. It's a well-known tool for wireframing and is suitable for the ideation stage, interactive presentations, or design thinking workshops.
Pricing starts with a limited free version for unlimited team members. Groups are limited to 3 editable boards and premade templates, so the free version isn’t suitable for many beyond the trial stage. Paid features include unlimited features with pricing anywhere from $8-16/month for teams and businesses (they also have custom pricing for enterprise-level work). At the business level, teams and companies have advanced collaboration and security capabilities, including Miro Smart Diagramming, Miro Smart Meetings, and Sign-On access to increase security.
Why you should use Miro
- Versatility: You can drop shapes, draw freeform, type, add digital sticky notes, or insert images and videos (and more) onto the infinite canvas.
- Collaborative features: Feature options include video chats, background music, “summoning” - bringing the team to a specific place in the Miro board to meet, smart diagramming, and private boards.
- Template options: The Miroverse is a gallery of templates by other users that other users can reuse or see as inspiration. Like any software, Miro takes time to get into a flow to use it best. Using proven workflows from existing projects and frameworks allows you to take inspiration and can speed up your design process through interactive learning.
Balsamiq is a wireframing tool that allows users to sketch and share user interface mockups for web, desktop, and mobile apps. It is a tool best used for creating quick designs, running user testing, and sharing mockups with a design team. It is popular for its hand-drawn style design, and low-fidelity outlines.
Balsamiq offers a free 30-day trial period. Pricing is then charged on a per-space basis. If you're looking to purchase the Pro version for a single-user license, you have two pricing options. The first option is an annual payment of $90, or you can pay $9 per year. This license allows you to work on up to two projects. For mid-sized companies, opting for the $490 annual payment, which will provide access to 20 projects, is recommended. For bigger teams at the enterprise level, choosing the $1,990 annual payment is recommended, which will allow access to 200 projects.
Why you should use Balsamiq
- Pre-made design elements: Balsamiq offers a UI library with design elements to make designing easier. There is an extensive list of shortcuts making the design flow much smoother once you are familiar with the software.
- Existing design templates: Balsamiq offers design pattern libraries and UI galleries to see examples of how others have used their templates to solve specific kinds of design problems. These sites provide examples of design solutions and annotated breakdowns describing why the user flow is appropriate. The range of options in the template is extensive, including stretch and wireframe skins for different designs, such as desktop apps, mobile apps, and websites.
- Built-in presentation tools: Balsamiq allows you to turn your designs into a slide for your presentation easily. This built-in feature means the process of presenting your design is simple, and it allows for the direct presentation of ideas to stakeholders. This interactive engagement means a smooth process for idea pitching and increased communication with the design team.
Figma is a design tool that allows you to create anything design related, including websites, logos, apps, presentations, and more. Figma is popular for pro designers using the tool to create complete UI designs but still can be used for simple wireframes. It is a tool that requires time to get used to the UI and time to learn the extensive features.
Figma offers two product levels - one for design and prototyping and one for whiteboarding. Both options include a free version, which is limited to 3 projects for each. Professional or Organization packages range from $3 - $45 monthly, depending on organization size and needs.
Why you should use Figma
- Cross-platform compatibility: Figma works on any operating system that runs a web browser. Macs, Windows PCs, Linux machines, and even Chromebooks make it incredibly versatile for users.
- Slack integration: Figma sends communication updates through Slack, meaning teams are kept up to date on changes and can reply directly to questions. Slack also allows you to maintain a record of comments through the feedback channel.
- Seamless collaboration: Figma is designed around collaboration and different stakeholders’ needs across teams. Importing files from other tools such as Sketch or image files, is easy. Figma allows for multi-user editing and audio conversation for points that need additional elaboration.
- Little learning curve: It is remarkably easy to create artboards and add basic shapes and text in Figma. You can create powerful prototyping using the basic functions, but creating more advanced features will take time to learn and explore new features.
Mockplus is a cloud-based prototyping tool that developers can use for building fast, interactive prototypes and wireframes. It allows users to create a screen design quickly with its pre-built components, icons, and drag-and-drop functionalities. Mockplus allows users to share and test design ideas and functionality across multiple devices.
The basic level of Mockplus is free, offering up to 10 users and 10 active projects. The Pro version offers a 15-day free trial and is then charged at $16 per month, billed annually. This level allows up to 3 users, unlimited guests, and unlimited projects.
Why you should use Mockplus
- Ready-to-use components: There are many ready-to-use components, icons, UI designs, and templates pre-installed in Mockplus, allowing users to build prototypes quickly. You can create templates of your layouts and save them for future use.
- The availability of testing across multiple devices: Mockplus offers 8 ways to share and test prototypes on real PCs or mobiles, which gives teams involved in testing the ability to identify gaps in user experience.
- Optimal collaboration: Mockplus allows for real-time collaboration enabling reviewers to see as live changes are updated. Multiple editors of a wireframe project can work together at the same time and make changes to the project simultaneously. Another feature that supports collaboration is the simplicity of generating and exporting the UI flowchart to share with additional stakeholders for feedback.
Hopefully, you've gained insights into the various features offered by these wireframe tools. Ultimately, the choice of wireframe software depends on individual needs and priorities. Some users prioritize robust functionality and advanced prototyping capabilities, while others prioritize ease of use and affordability. It is essential to carefully evaluate the features, pricing, and user reviews to make an informed decision.
As the product design and development field continues to evolve, it is worth keeping an eye on emerging trends and advancements in wireframe software. New tools may enter the market, offering innovative features and disruptive pricing models. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly reassess and compare wireframe software options to stay up-to-date with the latest industry offerings.