Free And Paid Prototyping And Wireframe Tools For The Product’s Owners

Mike Dashevsky
UI/UX Design 03.01.2018
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In this guide, you’ll discover critical issues you need to follow in choosing and using wireframe tools for mobile and web applications. You’ll achieve suggestions on their functionalities and prices. All these issues are relevant and up-to-date.
They’re widely exploited by product owners around the world. As a result, you can pick up one of them to build your best wireframe projects. Without further ado, let’s ride.

Wireframe workshop and card sorting

Mobile apps and products over the globe are suffering from a lack of usability, functionality, reliability, and other ultra-critical issues. Moreover, in the end, these issues could drastically reduce your sales revenue, lead generation, and brand image. 

We’re tracking down the roots of these disturbing effects and came to simple conclusions. The statement is this: the vast majority of products never reach the business goal because of a lack of user research and prototyping.

In this guide, you’ll find out the practical and easy-to-follow steps on how to properly organize your wireframing and prototyping to build bold business products and user experience.

As a result, knowing these essentials about wireframes and mockups will slash your headaches.

What are the wireframe and mockup anyway?

For you and your team members, the wireframe in its nature represents the rough sketch and concept of the future web product with a bunch of elements, structures, layouts, pages, drafts. Therefore, the mockup originally is the part of the design, which is highly concerned with visuals, colors, fonts of pages, elements, tables, buttons, etc.

Best wireframe tools work extremely well with the deep user research

During the design process of creating wireframes for the web app, we conduct deep analysis and user research. They are constantly seeking the answers to questions like: What do users want from this particular product? 

What do they need to do to achieve a 5-star customer experience? What is the most attractive part of the web applications for users that makes them use them again and again? And how to make their tasks and journeys as smooth as possible? For instance, how to convert more users into customers?

Keep users in mind when using wireframing and prototyping tools

Some stakeholders, however, think it’s not a big deal to conduct deep research on customers in their day-by-day necessities. This mistake usually costs hundreds to thousands of dollars in revenue losses.

The reason why it is happening looks like this: once you slash the best interest of users, they feel you want only their money. As a  result, every offense results in switching to another brand, your competitor perhaps.

The wireframe low and high fidelity is matters

Wireframes have three different stages of complexity you should consider before prototyping. And here they are:

  • Wireframes with low fidelity: Moving from low to higher levels of fidelities is a natural way. The low-fidelity wireframe presents a rough draft with a loop on a conceptual idea without details. It also contains various options for structuring your content and visuals.
  • Wireframe with the middle level of fidelity: Now, this model has already a clear structure, layout, menus, buttons, and content. It’s ready for presentation to the stakeholder and capable of the user flow demonstration. This stage is the time for stakeholders feedback and prototyping stage.
  • The high-fidelity stage: It describes the deep structure, content, layout, and functionality of the web app that is, in the vast majority of cases, is real after several iteration processes. It has nearly complete instructions for building a future product. Plus, it serves as guidance for the future design process.

Prototyping and wireframing tools put the project in the right direction

Creating the prototype with the help of user interface wireframe tools is the next crucial step in the development when you can see real results. The meaning of the prototyping stage is putting data and things together, assembling visuals and content in a future application. In the vast majority of cases, to create the workable prototype, you need to follow these steps:

  • Start from the real model. Once you have a concept that is ready for bringing to fruition, consider the steps of visualization.
  • Problem & Solving. A lot of stakeholders like to skip this step and consequently regret it. When the principal or even small problem occurs, you can easily fix the problem during the prototyping without onboarding it to the future.
  • Iteration process. Re-shape your prototype using user interface wireframe tools to the more advanced version and a minimum viable product. You should consider each page, menu, and function of the web product. Always ask these questions: Are these particular functions, menus, and pages solve the user’s tasks? Or they can perform much better?
  • Scenarios. At this stage of prototyping, you already have ideas about are best and worst scenarios for users. Foster the best scenarios, whether it’s ordering or contacting. And slash frustrations, which lead to low customer experience and churn.
  • Solve users’ problems. During this stage, you have seen where users are struggling with your product, which means they have concrete usability problems. Track down the roots of these problems, whether it’s a mistake filling form or clicking back and forward for information.
  • Present the brand new prototype. Once you walk through these stages, the customer will likely see your results. And even if you have a prototype in the early stage, make sure it’s good enough for presentation to the customer.

The first step in high fidelity wireframing is sketching on the paper

Every wireframe project design process, whether it’s a big or small product, starts from hand drawing on paper or whiteboard. In this way, you see the conceptual idea, the pain points, the final results, or at least the way to it.

Sketching on paper accelerated the design process to the higher gear. So never skip the drawing on paper, and your results will be much higher.

By the way, top-notch professionals in UX design work out their projects on paper first. They always follow this “first things first” step.

The main idea of the wireframe software and design process

The main idea is to reach a workable model for design and minimize the risk of re-development when everything is set, and the product is about to show on the market. In the end, you have explicit information and layouts about: menus, buttons, content, colors, fonts, call to action.

The second idea is to ensure a smooth user journey throughout your application by building a real wireframe map.

Below you will find out the latest and most popular wireframing tools to build applications for redesigning or building them from scratch.

Do you already have a desire for testing some of these wireframe and mockup tips listed above? Then you might consider using these wireframing tools as well:

1. The pencil and paper or whiteboard comes first

Paper and pencil wireframe process

Every wireframe project design process, whether it’s a big or small product, starts from hand drawing on paper or whiteboard. In this way, you see the conceptual idea, the pain points, the final results, or at least the way to it.

Sketching on paper accelerated the design process to the higher gear. So never skip the drawing on paper, and your results will be much higher.

Moreover, top-notch professionals in UX design work out their projects on paper first. They always follow this “first things first” step. Consequently, mastering the pen and paper tool guarantees the performance of using wireframe software tools.

PROS

This tool helps structure the amount of the data and ideas into the logical sequence for fast and accurate prototyping. Accelerates your wireframing process in the software tools by keeping your concept and main idea organized on the paper.

CONS

You need to devote chunks of the time to put your ideas to the wireframe software tool by downloading photos, images, etc. And the time for structuring your content and layouts from scratch.

Cost

Pencil and paper or marker and whiteboard

2. Axure RP

Best wireframe tools: Axure interface representation with prototyping workflow and features

Axure is perfect for those interested in a handy interactive wireframe software & mockup tool for their web applications. This is the choice of the DZ crew and we highly recommend Axure RP for working on small and big projects. Moreover, it is mobile-friendly and compatible with the most popular platforms.

As a result, Axure boasts robust responsive design tools, which you are capable of easily utilizing this tool on different browsers. A number of functions allow you to create various presentation materials. Wireframes, mockups, web designs, flowcharts, prototypes, presentation slides, iPad and iPhone mockups, to name a few, are good to go.

For instance, the Axure RP’s wireframe and prototyping tools for web design:

  • Wireframe Creation
  • Prototype Creation
  • Page Linking
  • Interactive Element
  • Feedback Management
  • Revision History
  • Collaboration features for teamwork
Pros

Have an explicit number of function that allows you to build any type of the application

Cons

The learning curve can be extended in order to easily use this tool

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Compatibility

The tool is for Windows, Android, macOS, or iOS

Cost

There’s a free trial version for 30 days without any commitment whatsoever. The paid version will cost you from 25$ to 42$ and up

3. Sketch

Sketch interface with functionality showcase

The popular and holistic interactive wireframe tool for novices and professionals. DZ crew works with Sketch for mockups that work out fast and easily. Likewise, the fully-fledged tool has an extensive bunch of features for editing an existing project or starting it from scratch. It has an extensive and updateable library of plugins to meet the most sophisticated goals.

For instance, it has UI wireframe tools such as:

  • Pixel precisions
  • Pre-made templates
  • Flexible customization
  • Low-high fidelity wireframing
  • Smooth switching from scratching to the prototyping
Pros

At the top of the list among professionals around the globe for mockups

Cons

You have to have the knowledge to use it effectively

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Compatibility

Cloud-based will give you the capacity to work in the browser. However, if you wish to download, you must have the macOS Catalina (10.15.0) or newer. It’s also has a free 30-day trial period for new users.

Cost

The Free trial 30-day version, price starts from 9$ and up.

4. Adobe XD

Best prototyping tools: Adobe XD interface with functionality showcase

Yes, the company that allows you to view your pdf files actually has the super tool for wireframe designing. Additionally, this remarkable interactive wireframe tool has a wide array of functionality that allows you to create cutting-edge visuals for desktops, laptops, mobile, and other devices. 

Although we prefer the Axure RP tool for mockups and wireframes, we use the Adobe XD at the request of the client.

The bunch of built-in features has everything you need for escaping from numerous plugins.

A shortlist of features you will like:

  • Easy drag and drop elements
  • Simple navigation
  • Easy-to-use toolbars
  • User interfaces for building columns, artboards, layouts
  • Easy text and content editing
  • Fixing tools for timely actions
Pros

The great tool for mockups and wireframes

Cons

Glitches sometimes occur when you use the smartphone for reviewing your Adobe XD projects

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Compatibility

You can use the web-based and installed version. The best performance is guaranteed if you use the latest browsers and operating systems such as macOS v10.15 or later. Windows 10 (64-bit) – Version 1909 or later.

Cost

Require a credit card number for a 14-day trial version with a money-back guarantee. The price varies from 9,99 to 52,99 dollars per month.

5. Figma

Best design and wireframe tools: Figma interface with functionality showcase

The choice of the DZ crew for prototyping and designing almost in any project. We use this tool for rapid prototyping to present stakeholders the workable prototypes. This is the web-based wireframe tool for a wide array of functions.

For this reason, one of the most well-known features of this software is the collaboration tools of working in real-time on one project. Moreover, using the software, you achieve the fully-fledged options for conception, low-high fidelity wireframing, and prototyping.

For example, the most well-known interactive wireframe features of the Figma:

  • Option to create a team in real-time to work on the one project
  • Simple user interfaces, which guarantee fast education
  • Bunch of useful UI kits
  • Quick switching to prototyping tools in one click
Pros

Has everything you need for prototyping to design your mobile and web application. Additionally, see the fast results in the prototyping stage with a wide range of collaboration capacities.

Cons

You need to track the editing process when you are working with Figma

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Compatibility

The web-based application works on both Windows and macOS platforms

Cost

It has a free wireframe tools version for 3 Figma and FIGJAM files. The paid version will cost you from 12$ to 45$

6. Balsamiq

Balsamiq interface representation with wireframe workflow and features

Balsamiq is all about productive, fast, and easy sketching and wireframing. The DZ crew loves this tool for the variety of drag and drop features, the bunch of icons, and the speed of sketching.

Take a look at the list of ready-to-go features you can  use:

  • Rapid low-fidelity wireframing for landing pages, web applications, etc
  • Collaborative feature to work in a team
  • Creating of mobile apps as well as
  • Simple prototyping for usability tests
Pros

One of the fastest wireframing tools in the world

Cons

Not everyone finds this tool is good enough

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Compatibility

Cloud-based, work both with Windows and macOS platforms.

Cost

30-day money-free version. Paid version: Depending on the number of projects: from 9 to 199$ and up higher per month.

7. Justinmind

Justinmind interface concept

Flexible software you can use in your wireframe design on the windows or Mac OS system.

The wide array of functions such as:

  • Handy UX and UI design
  • Proactive prototyping
  • Collaboration tools for working as a part of the team
pros

As a Balsamiq help you to build fast wireframes and mockups

cons

Has a limited functionality in comparison with the Figma or Axure RP

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Requirements

Perfectly work on devices supporting Windows or Mac OS.

Cost

You can pick up the free wireframe version if you like. The paid version will cost you from 19$ and more dollars per month.

8. MockFlow

MockFlow interface mockups

The MockFlow is a wireframe and mockup tool with almost everything you need for starting the website development process from the scratch. It offers you a full range of UX solutions such as Workflow, Wireframing, Design, and Sitemaps. MockFlow can be integrated with many business apps.

This alignment helps optimize your team management. Moreover, this tool is geared for managing UI Record, Arranging UI Specification, and Share Ideas options.

The key features of the MockFlow:

  • Feedback Management
  • Wireframe Creation
  • Presentation Tools
  • Drag & Drop
  • Collaboration tools
  • Feedback Collection
Pros

Integration with many business apps, working with the existed or improving ongoing projects

Cons

Have limited functions for projects and can bring you to the limited capacities for wireframing

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Requirements

The tool has a cloud-based version to launch from the browser and if you like, versions for installation on both Windows and macOS.

Cost

The free version is available, and the paid version ranges from 14$ to 19$ and up.

9. Mockingbird

Mockingbird interface representation with prototyping workflow

Mockingbird is an enhanced website development instrument for creating, previewing, and sharing sketches, wireframes, mockups, and even prototypes. Thanks to the extended functionality, it allows you to make detailed wireframes with multifold pages. Mockingbird is one of the smartest website UI design tools for today.

It enables users to design website and apps wireframes, and create actionable mockups on the go.

The list of features:

  • Mockup Creation
  • Interactive Elements
  • Presentation Tools
  • Screen Capture
  • Desktop Interface
  • Page Linking
  • Feedback Management
  • Collaboration tools
  • Feedback Collection
Pros

Provide a good number of features for prototyping of applications

Cons

The lack of performance when you’re trying to preview your mockup’s projects

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Requirements

The Mockingbird is the cloud-based wireframe tool that will work on both Windows and macOS

Cost

Using Mockingbird, you have no free trial version. Prices start from 12$ to 85 per month

10. Moqups

Moqups interface representation with prototyping workflow and layout

Moqups is one of the popular and best wireframing toolsets for mockup, diagram, and prototype creation and presentation. It provides you with a number of easy-to-use functions and actionable methodology to help you build effective on-the-fly presentation solutions.

For instance, Moqups’ best-performing features are scalable and flexible management options, quick object editing, drag-and-dropping, attractive fonts, etc.

Consequently, in the tool you’ll discover:

  • Wireframe Creation
  • Prototype Creation
  • Desktop Interface
  • Presentation Tools
  • Interactive Element
  • Mobile Interface
  • Revision History
  • Feedback Management
  • Drag & Drop
  • Collaboration tools for the team
Pros

A nice variety of graphics and templates let you produce great visuals in projects

cons

You have to take some elements for further groping them. It’s not quite handy to make the same routine over and over again.

website
Requirements

Cloud-based, work on any device with an internet connection.

Cost

Free-3 months of use, in case of choosing an annual plan. Pricing is starting: from 17$ to 89$

11. NinjaMock

Best wireframe tools: NinjaMock interface representation with prototyping workflow and features

Similar to popular tools, NinjaMock represents one of the most functional website UI design tools we’d like to present. To begin with, the smart presentation instrument enables you to create customizable mockups and wireframes with an enhanced level of details on the go. 

Furthermore, it’s intended to help you to build the design process and collaborate on web design projects with your team in a very effective and speedy way.

Additionally, take a brief view on the shortlist of the web design features:

  • Wireframe Creation
  • Mockup Creation
  • Drag & Drop
  • Page Linking
  • Interactive Element
  • Desktop Interface
  • Mobile Interface
  • Collaboration features
  • Feedback Management
Pros

Have a lot of functions for using and quick results for wireframing and mockups

Cons

Internet connection has supreme importance in order to keep your progress running

website
Requirements

Web-based application

Cost

Free-trial version includes: one user has the free trial version for 1 project with 200 elements. If you want to create more projects, the paid version will cost you from 8$ and up per user.

Final statement

There’re many wireframing and prototyping tools you can use to match your business goals. The DZ crew prefers Axure RP, Sketch, Figma, Balsamiq as tools for projects. Yet we gladly use Adobe XD on the customer’s requests.

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