This will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best wireframe tools and mockup tools.
Before you have settled on a logo, sitemap, fleshed-out content or branded font, you are going to need to design a wireframe. Having a wireframe is essential to mapping out what your UX will be like for your end user.
Where will the UX essentials be positioned on the screen and in relation to one another? What will the user see first and how will the design carry their eyes across the page? Where will they expect to see common elements like help/contact buttons or an options menu? These are the kinds of questions you will answer for yourself while building a wireframe mockup for your product.
Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best Wireframe Tools
Some people may prefer the good old fashioned method of pencil and paper for coming up with a quick wireframe design. Personally, I like to save a few trees and use a dedicated wireframing app instead. I’ve picked out a few of my favorites to share with you today.
In this post I’ll share with you the best prototyping tools to include on your wireframe software shortlist and explain how UX software can help you create an app mockup that will impress any client. I will tell you what you should look for in web wireframe tools and our evaluation criteria for assessing any mockup software and provide a simple UI mockup tools comparison.
And don’t forget to check out my FAQs about website wireframes tools lower on the page! Without further ado, let’s begin:
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Wireframe App Comparison Criteria
What do we even look for in a mockup generator? What qualities make certain wire frame apps stand out from the rest? We have a robust set of criteria that we use when analyzing any new tool. Here is a quick breakdown of our current evaluation process.
- User Interface (UI): How well-designed is it? Does it offer clear displays and intuitive navigation?
- Usability: Is this easy to learn and master? Are there tutorials and training? Does the company offer good tech and user support?
- Features & Functionality: How many of the key website and app design software features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they? Specifically, I looked for:
- Drag & Drop: easily add and move elements with drag and drop simplicity, allowing you to quickly create and modify wireframes.
- Feedback & Collaboration Tools: it’s important to be able to easily manage feedback on wireframes, with the ability to leave comments, mark up wireframes, attach files, and collaboratively build wireframes.
- Interactive Elements: Allows you to make an interactive wireframe (sometimes called a “clickable prototype”, “interactive mockup”, “interactive prototype”, etc) which lets you create a clickable version of the wireframes to prototype the interactive elements.
- Presentation Tools: wireframes are usually presented in the initial phases of a project, either internally or to clients, so the ability to quickly convert wireframes into visually beautiful presentations is important.
- Revision History: Can you access previous versions to see changes and revert back to them—this saves your work so you don’t have to re-do it in the event of changes.
- Integrations: Does the wire frame app connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for its features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent and flexible?
The Best Wireframe Tools Overviews
You could take a deep dive into dozens of web design tools until you find the best mockup software…but luckily, you don’t have to. I’ve done the heavy lifting for you and collected some of the best wireframing tools around.
1. Lucidchart – App configured to pull data from Google Sheets to create professional flowcharts and automate your work
Used by BP, L’Oréal and BMW, Lucidchart simplifies app making software with a large template library, drag-and-drop functionality, real-time collaboration, in-app chat, automatic sync and save, and more. Being a web-based app, there are no downloads or installations needed and it works on any device, browser or operating system.
When diving into our specific evaluation criteria, usability and value for cost are definitely strengths of Lucidchart. The low per-month cost combined with the use-anywhere, browser-hosted app makes this one of the easiest wireframing tools to get started with.
Lucidchart integrates with Microsoft Office apps; has free add-ons for Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides; and integrates with the likes of Atlassian, Salesforce, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Slack, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Jive, GitHub, BambooHR, Quip, and more, including many through Zapier.
Although we love the ease of a browser-hosted tool, if you want a desktop app you’re out of luck. That means that no data/wifi means no work, which might not work for certain workplaces. The exact limitations of the freemium version are also a little difficult to suss out, meaning that some users might bump up against a paywall when they are not expecting it.
Lucidchart starts at $4.95/month and has a freemium version of the software.
2. Cacoo – User-friendly diagramming tool with real-time collaboration and abundant templates for wireframes and mockups
Cacoo is an easy-to-use online diagramming, mockup and wireframe tool with a powerful editor, user-friendly interface, and templates. It helps users visualize their ideas in wireframes, flowcharts, mind maps, and more. It’s for more than just developers and designers; Cacoo helps all teams brainstorm ideas, present and gather feedback, simplify workflows, and enhance effortless collaboration.
With real-time collaborative editing, on-diagram comments, and revision history feature, working in Cacoo feels like having your entire team right by your side. Other key features include multiple importing and exporting options, presentation tools, in-app notifications, and AWS importer.
With a well-designed interface and an extensive library of templates and shapes, it is easy to bring your ideas to life. There are video tutorials, an online support center with in-depth “how-to” guides, and interactive live chat support during business hours.
With its versatile platform, Cacoo provides great value in a wide range of use cases including network architecture diagrams, marketing flowcharts and business process flows. A setback for some users is that Cacoo is unable to support offline work and there are limitations on the number of sheets and collaborators in the freemium version.
Cacoo integrates with Google Drive and Docs, Visio, AWS, Atlassian Confluence, Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, Box, Slack, and Typetalk. Besides pre-built integrations, Cacoo offers a developer API to support users to build their custom integrations too. It’s worth noting that this tool is part of Nulab’s suite of collaborative products which include the project management tool Backlog and the team chat app Typetalk, both offered as Cacoo integrations.
Cacoo costs $6/user/month for the cloud-hosted version, and they offer a 14-day free trial and freemium account option. Cacoo also has a self-hosted version and supports educators and students by offering a 50% discount on its Education Plan.
3. Microsoft Visio – Software for creating flowcharts, diagrams, org charts, floor plans, engineering designs within the familiar Office system
Microsoft Visio connects your flowcharts and diagrams to real-time data, meaning that changes made to data present in Microsoft 360 or Vision will automatically be reflected in your design. They have a browser-based version so that you can access your charts remotely. You can also share your work as a secure web-based link, attachment, image, or PDF.
Being that it comes from such a large, well-known brand, the evaluation criteria segments in which Visio excels are UI and usability. It’s very well designed and laid out with many familiar elements of Office software built-in. There are tutorials and online support aplenty so it really does work for any team without the resources for additional training.
As you would expect, MS Visio integrates with Microsoft 360. However, there seem to be no other third-party integrations to speak of.
The fact that Visio doesn’t offer real-time collaboration functionality is a huge negative for an otherwise robust app. It also seems to be missing custom stencil support, which is a key tool offered with many competitors software. Unless you love the Microsoft/Windows landscape, you will want to look elsewhere for wireframing tools, as Vision performs best amidst that family of software.
Microsoft Visio starts at $6.40/user/month and has a 30-day free trial.
4. Mockplus – Desktop-based tool for prototyping mobile, web and desktop apps easily and quickly
Mockplus comes with nearly 200 components and more than 3,000 icons to save you much time and effort on design. Drag-and-drop elements in order to build interactive prototypes on an intuitive working canvas with a clean, spacious interface. Simply scanning a QR code lets you test your prototypes on actual devices or you can publish the project to cloud and receive a shareable weblink.
Our evaluation criteria has a sharp focus on collaboration, which Mockplus does well in a variety of ways. It supports multi-users working on the same project, easy markup/reviewing, and sophisticated page editing organization.
There was no third party software integration available that we saw during our foray into the offerings of Mockplus, which is always a disappointment for an otherwise promising application.
Other than the above con, we also noticed that multiple people cannot work on the same project simultaneously, which would be a huge asset to a program that already offers a host of collaborative and social capabilities.
Mockplus starts at $199/year and has a free trial.
5. Adobe XD – App for wireframing, designing, prototyping, and sharing experiences for web, mobile, voice and more
Creative teams can design at scale with the Adobe XD toolkit, which includes a unified assets panel for brand consistency, features for easy replication of lists and other elements, responsive resizing of content, collaborative presentation and chat features, tooling, and APIs to enable custom integrations, and more.
As for our evaluation criteria specifics, it doesn’t get much more well designed and functional than Adobe software. While Adobe tends to have a steep learning curve, they are also top-notch at providing training videos and written tutorials so you will never feel left in the dust.
App integrations and/or plugins include Airtable, Trello, UserTesting, Google Sheets, CloudApp, Overflow, Stark, Angle, UI Faces, and dozens more.
As for some minor critiques, the animations and auto-animations features are not as fully-functional as they could be. Also, there is no way to include micro-interactions and links between prototypes, which leaves users piling artboards into a single file, significantly slowing down the program as it grows.
Adobe XD starts at $9.99/user/month but also has a freemium version.
6. Balsamiq – Low-fidelity wireframing tool for designing great web apps, desktop software, websites and user interfaces
Balsamiq is a rapid low-fidelity UI wireframing tool that reproduces the experience of sketching on a notepad or whiteboard but using a computer. Their focus on structure and content lets you get the foundational ideas sketched out before narrowing in on the specifics. Balsamiq also open source parts of their code and tools for users to modify as needed.
Our evaluation criteria almost always highlight collaborative functions and in this category, Balsamiq is somewhat lacking. However, they partially make up for this by nailing the usability category, as we found that it is an intuitive program that even wireframing beginners will be able to pick up on.
Balsamiq integrates with Google Drive, Confluence and Jira. Also, as mentioned before, they have opened parts of their code so that you can manipulate it as needed, which isn’t an integration per-se but definitely adds a certain level of functional flexibility.
While Balsamiq covers all the basics, it’s not as in-depth as its competitors as far as features and functionality goes. Wireframes export as static files rather than dynamic ones, which might be inadequate for many projects.
Balsamiq starts at $9/month and has a 30-day-free trial.
8. Justinmind – All-in-one prototyping tool for web and mobile apps with an assortment of free wireframing tools to get started right away
Design the style, size and layout distribution of any UI element to fit the look and feel of any screen. Justinmind lets you create lifelike iOS and Android prototypes, integrate with apps like Sketch and JIRA, access UI kits with over 4000 elements, and more. They also offer free UI kits and free wireframing tools so that you can try before you buy.
In our evaluation criteria we always consider usability in so much as we want to know that there is a wealth of tutorials and “How Tos” available for the average user to self-teach. Justinmind has plenty of interactive walkthroughs complete with text and video instruction, Q&amp;amp;amp;amp;A forums available to the public, as well as further support options for paid plan customers.
Justinmind integrates with Sketch, Adobe Suite, and JIRA.
The integrations work best when you make changes and import into external software rather than vice versa. For example, if you make changes to a design in Sketch and reupload it into Justinmind, you might have to make some adjustments after-the-fact. This isn’t ideal but is pretty easy to work around, however may still be a deterrent for some.
Justinmind starts at $19/user/month and has a 30-day return policy. A 15-day free trial, as well as a freemium version of the software, are available.
9. Axure – robust app that lets you plan, prototype and hand off wireframes to developers, all without code
At the center of the Axure RP interface is the canvas, where you create your diagrams by arranging widgets. Used by companies like Amazon, BBC, Target and Microsoft, Axure provides tools to create diagrams, customer journeys, and wireframes. Additional features include conditional logic, adaptive product views, animation effects, code export functionality, easy cloud storage and sharing, and more.
Axure is a favorite contender in the features and function evaluation criteria column, most notably because it has so much to offer that users often report a steep or deterring learning curve. For experienced UX designers, though, this will be a blessing. Although it may cost you, Axure doesn’t pull punches when it comes to feature availability.
Axure lacks integrations with third-party apps in the traditional sense. The best they have to offer is their “widget library”, which at least provides you with assets and icons from popular software (Apple products, Google products) so that you can design accurate wireframes with those platforms in mind. These all have an additional cost.
Other than the lack of integration options, come cons include the fact that team and cloud functionality is rather bare-bones compared to other software on the market. Additionally, the way they handle, design and format images could be smoother—it was often a challenge to implement our vision.
Axure starts at $29/user/month and has a free 30 day trial. They also offer discounts for accredited grad schools, post secondary facilities, government organizations and not-for-profit groups.
10. Sketch – An intuitive vector editor designed to make collaborative prototyping fast, available for download on Mac
With an intuitive vector editor, lightning fast prototyping and powerful collaboration tools, Sketch can help you turn your brainstorms into ready-to-code project designs. They offer pixel perfect precision, hundreds of plug-in options, non-destructive editing, export presets, code exports, and more.
If you read our evaluation criteria, you probably noticed that in features and functionality we are looking for drag and drop capabilities, collaborative feedback options, interactive elements, presentation tools, and revision history. Sketch covers all of these bases with ease.
They have tons of integration options listed on their site as well as plugins that they offer for Sketch users. Integrations include but are not limited to Crystal, Drafta, Invision, Lingo, Marvel, Overflow, Proto.io, UXPin, Wake, and Zeplin.
The biggest con of Sketch is that there is no Windows version of the software, only OS X, which will alienate many potential users right off the bat. In order to get the most out of the software, you will probably find yourself installing a lot of plugins, which might be tedious for teams who are looking for a “ready to go” app.
Sketch for Teams starts at $9/user/month and has a 90 day free trial.
The Best Wireframe Tools Comparison Chart
Want Help Narrowing Down the Options?
This tool is pretty useful. We’ve partnered with Crozdesk to give you access to their “Software Finder”.
If you input some of the details about your project and the features you’re looking for in a project management tool, it will generate a list of tools that match your preferences. You provide your email, and they send over a nice PDF guide with a summary of your best matches.
What Do You Think About Our Best Wireframing Tools Lists?
Every good idea starts with a good wireframe—making wireframing an important step in web design. Before you can get specific, you have to plot out the larger elements of any UI project. The tools above will help you do that.
What website mockup tool would you recommend? What do you currently use now? What do you look for in a website prototyping tool? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.