Wireframe tools lay out the process of website or app creation by unfolding the nuts and bolts of product cycle, all, just to keep the focus intact on functionality and user experience. A clutter-free environment is what they offer to make your way more usable. Every product requires a clear representation of content, hierarchy and layout. It is important to communicate the ideas as clients are unable to connect the dots and comprehend the working of a proposed app or website themselves.

They vary in visualizations. They must get a clear picture of the projected product, which actually is not possible only through verbal or textual medium as that might lead to lot of assumptions. Wireframe tools can bridge the gap of understanding and make things crystal clear. These days market is flooded with various wireframe tools, each competing with varying levels of functionality. Some software limit to generating simple wireframes, whereas others enable a working prototype.

When it comes to creative flow, there is no settling for less, come what may. So, when you start picking from the lot of tools, go for the ones that fit the way you work. Making your task simpler, here we bring the top wireframe tools that will definitely champion creativity for you-

1. Axure

axure

Axure is a wireframing and prototyping tool for web and desktop applications. The web and user experience designers use it to make click-through wireframes, user flows and sitemaps as well as interactive prototypes. The software works both on PC (Windows) and MAC OS and supports prototyping of rich internet applications by analyzing desired interface behaviors on actions like mouse clicks and touch gestures.

With ready-made widgets, functioning form elements and dynamic content that can be hidden or motioned on the page or even made animated, Axure provides a robust platform to communicate effectively with your designs to clients and developers or even conduct large usability tests with prospective users. The fantastic software helps in visualizing design concepts, which forms the basis of major client decisions.

It also provides a visual plan to development teams who are responsible for building the website or the application. Researches can take to testing the design concepts with users to gather their response on ideas before spending hefty amounts on development. No doubt, ideas get a clear channel with Axure in command.

With Axure, it is possible to create amazing wireframes with boxes, placeholders, text and shapes. To add to the visual appeal, you can use colors, gradients, semi-transparent fills, grids and even import images. The tool constructs quick output to embody the suggestive ideas early in the design process. It can also create high fidelity outputs, as and when required, especially for the researchers so that they can test their application designs with customers through highly realistic prototypes.

Working elements like predictive search not only adds to the looks, but also works real time. Functions like drag and drop placement, resizing and formatting of widgets offer immense support to the designers. Though you don’t always need it, but having the luxury of both simple click-through mockups and highly functional prototypes can empower your designs and take them to the next level altogether.

Axure facilitates adaptive web designs so that you can view your project on a range of devices. Interactive HTML mock ups can be made for both websites and apps to support responsive structure with a built-in share function. You just need to click a button and Axure renders an HTML and JavaScript prototype of your design so that you can easily view it in IE, Firefox, Safari or Chrome. The powerful tool also gives an add-on feature of publishing your prototype to a network drive, web server or Axure Share for the purpose of sharing it.

Now, for the documentation mode, you can generate word templates with custom headers, title page, footers and heading styles. You need to opt from the single or two column layouts first. Further, arrange the order of the screenshots and notes. And, finally after clicking a button, you are good to go with your custom documentation as and when you require during design updates. If you want to collaborate with the other members on a project, you can use Team Projects to work efficiently.

For remote access, shared network drive or SVN server comes handy. Keep in mind to record the history of changes with notes for each entry. You can also export the previous versions of the project to view the earlier version before changes.

2. UXpin

ux-pin

UXpin comes as a blessing for designers. The quickness and ease that it offers makes it one of the most used tools of the market. It enables you to choose from hundreds of UI elements and patterns for web, iPhone, Android and more. The platforms UXPin support are PC (Windows) and MAC OS. With responsive, interactive and robust wireframes and prototypes, it stands true to its claim- everything you want in a UX design. The drag- and –drop options, icons, images and custom UI elements can ideally polish all your mockups.

Even if you plan to import layered designs from Sketch and Photoshop, still you can manage your entire UX design process with UXPin and create hi-fi mockups. The in-built graphic design editor allows you to customize typography, backgrounds, UI elements and much more. Let your design revel with every bit of the look-good factor.

Want to convert your wireframe or mockup into a super interactive prototype? Well, with UXPin, it is just a matter of few clicks. Also, you don’t have to worry if you are considering imports from Photoshop or Sketch, as this powerful tool always works with layered files and not flat files to preserve all the layers for prototyping. A major USP of this software is its advanced level of interactions and animations, which is absent in other tools. It just refines your basic static design to fully animated prototypes and that too, without any code.

If you want to share links and gather the response from teammates and clients, go direct. No need to bother on creating accounts. Further, presentations are a big-time smooth affair with real-time features like screen sharing, cursor tracking and voice calling, that too without phone or VOIP. Smart, isn’t it? Actually, there is more. The competent tool makes you join hands in designing; yes, you can design together, let’ say our very own Google Docs for design.

User feedback is invaluable for the designers as it kinds of support the design with an out-and-out evidence from the users. After planning the tasks, you can go for testing session. Although still an experimental feature for UXPin; here, you can record clicks, screens and facial reactions to evaluate the responses completely. Next, stakeholders can enforce necessary changes through these video clips. Adding comments is simple and fast. As soon as you complete the same, a team member gets notified through email.

This productive tool keeps designs and documentation together, so that you can upload project plans, style guides, product needs, or any other files instantly.

3. Justinmind

justinmind

An incredibly powerful tool that offers complete prototyping solutions for all screens. Justinmind arms a designer by providing excellent design solutions to prototype feature-rich mobile apps, websites, web products and enterprise applications. The authoring tool grants clarity and delivers the expected results. Compatible both with PC (Windows) and MAC OS, Justinmind gives you the best of designing an experience. Be it clickable mockups or fully functional prototypes, your designs will definitely be in a different league altogether.

The robust tool lets you share and test designs working on real devices and gives your wireframe a concrete touch, much like the final application. It also keeps all the coding hassles at bay by enabling code-free interactive wireframes. Now, if you want engaging wireframes with interactions and animations, you can execute it without any technical knowledge or programming experience. Justinmind prototyper has 500 + web and mobile widgets in its awesome library, which build interactive wireframes quickly.

These have been specially devised to suit both iOS and Android, so that your content outshines the other apps. The fabulous collection of web buttons, menus, charts, et all makes your web wireframes striking.

Justinmind also supports Google Glass apps with the help of predesigned layers and styles following standard guidelines. The widgets run fluidly and can be pictured in a glass device. If you are thinking to create your own widgets, then this tool will not disappoint you as you can use your own cards and patterns. Keeping content and structure in mind, you can even select sketch-like components, arrows, images etc. to enhance the look-and-feel of the wireframe.

The widget library excels in terms of embedding HTML, docs and videos, along with interactive maps, online widgets and other on/offline content.

The mockups from any IPhone, iPad, Android and other devices can be used for live experience to get the real time feel. There are various inputs, menus and other controls to create mockups of Windows 8 app too. Testing is a major plus point as you get to receive genuine feedback through user behaviors and interactions. Justinmind uses various testing tools to ensure a fulfilling user experience through real world users. The entire experienced can be shared online to further gather the responses and reviews from customers.

The image hotspots and linking screens makes you connect better with the visual design. Also, it is possible to link your images with Photoshop, which automatically gets updated when files are modified in the editor. Integration with Adobe Illustrator and web browser can refine your wireframe and give it a sleek touch. Remember you have complete control over your designs and all the images on your wireframe can be modified to suit your requirements.

4. Adobe Experience Design

experience-design

The all-in-one tool gives speedy UX designs with ultra modern features that remove delays and deliver stellar performance. It is supported by the MAC OS platform and will be soon available for Windows. Although new in the horizon, Adode XD looks to be promising app design and prototyping software. You can create wireframes and visual designs in a fluid manner, preview changes quickly and share prototypes with others for instant reactions. If you want to switch from a design to prototype, all that you require is a click and you are set.

The software is always innovating itself to churn out the best in wireframing. Built from the scratch, it streamlines design to quicken the process with competent tools. The tools can be used to draw, reuse and remix elements so as to produce impressive wireframes, visual designs, intuitive prototypes and agile assets in the same app.

The interactive prototypes of Adobe XD give end-to-end solutions for experience design. By including interactions and animations you can aptly procure the user feedback and make the changes to achieve an optimal user experience. Guaranteeing single solution in experience design, everything is user-centric, just like easy switches between the design and prototype, without leaving the app.

Undertaking previewing for comfortable design experience, the tool permits live previews with flows, triggers and transitions to remove guesswork completely. As soon as you make changes, you can see them immediately so that you can get the benefit of an actual experience. The focused tools support duplicating with repeat grid through which you can replicate any selected element horizontally or vertically endless times, keeping your styles and spacing in place.

Built-in sharing serves a major advantage. Now, you can send a link to your teammates and receive their reactions on your designs. Production-ready artwork can be of major guidance to the developers and so, must be shared to get the product as per your requirements. Taking a step further, video recording your prototype or sharing a link to an interactive prototype hosted on Creative Cloud, can give you extensive feedback of your work. The all-rounder software also brings in existing assets from Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch, to give a breakthrough performance.

Adode XD aims to craft a rich experience by creating projects that execute complex designs for web, mobile, tablets, watches and other devices, all in a lightning-fast way.

5. Balsamiq

balsamiq

Balsamiq is the right software to splurge your creativity. The raid wireframing tool gives you an awesome artwork experience. It is much like sketching on a whiteboard with computer as a medium. The platforms supporting Balsamiq are PC (Windows) and MAC OS. Generating mockups is a piece of cake as you can sort the ideas you want and those you want to throw. The mockups are kept in rough and low fidelity intentionally so as to encourage maximum feedback from the users.

Making you work smarter and faster, the tool gives best solutions for building a user interface effectively. You are granted access to various UI elements in the built-in library, which comes as a treasure for the designers. Balsamiq allows immediate feedback giving immense scope for improvement of the design. Wireframes are made sketch-style to encourage focus on content and interaction. The minute details are given secondary importance. If you want to clean the existing wireframes, there is an option which gives a sharp look to them and makes them more presentable.

It is easy to iterate with mockups as they are temporary and take less of time and effort. You can revise your designs and improve them without much trouble. Consequently, you can save a lot of your time in planning and devote more towards discussion and code writing. The versions come with revision history to leave no chance for betterment. And not forgetting, you can also print the prototypes and run online user tests before the coding process to build a perfect product.

Balsamiq offers a dynamic platform for agile teams where product managers, developers and designers can collaborate smoothly. It doesn’t stand in the way you work, rather adapts to the way you work. The intuitive tool with its third party extensions like extra controls, custom icons, HTML export tools and others has ultimate features that go beyond simple clickable buttons.

Conclusion

The skeletal framework of a wireframe gives a hierarchy to your design and screens the process by being a visual guide. Wireframes create rapid prototypes which measure the practicality of a design concept. The tools help to give a more tangible grasp to the functionality and user experience. It supports the designers visually and pushes the UI process ahead. Want to enhance the design experience? Try the above tools and extend usability by leaps and bounds.

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Prince Pal

UX/UI Strategist & Usability Tester at Think360 Studio
For 12+ years I have designed, developed and marketed websites / apps startups in New York, California, Florida and in India. Always focused on great User Interface is key.

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