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 5 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, provide our evaluation criteria for assessing any mockup software, and provide a simple UI mockup tool comparison.
Wireframe App Comparison Criteria
What do we even look for in a mockup generator? What qualities make certain wireframe 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? What is the user experience like?
- Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Are there tutorials and training? Does the company offer good tech and user support? Does the software support Android and MacOS, or have a mobile app?
- 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 UI elements and other design elements with drag and drop simplicity, allowing team members 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. Does the software provide collaboration features to enable this?
- 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.
- Fidelity Levels: does the software allow team members to create a range of different wireframe types, including high-fidelity and low-fidelity?
- 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 wireframe app connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations or add-ons, such as Jira or Photoshop?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for its features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?
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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.
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 a 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 an 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 so users can build 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.
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.
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.
Miro - Visual collaboration platform to collaborate and centralize communication as your teams design app wireframes, websites, and more
Miro offers an infinite brainstorming canvas, robust set of widgets, prebuilt templates, toolkits for user story or customer journey maps, wireframing, roadmap or sprint planning, retros, and more. This app helps you engage remote teams across formats, tools, and channels with digital workspaces that enable asynchronous and synchronous collaboration.
Miro excels in the way it touches upon our evaluation criteria for value for price (after all, the freemium version is quite handy) and the features and functionality section. For relatively little (or no) cost, you can experiment with decent presentational tools with minimal learning curve.
Integrations listed on their site include Dropbox, Box, Google Suite, JIRA, Slack, Sketch, OneDrive, Zapier, and more.
Though favorable in its offerings, Miro could benefit from a vaster color and typography selection. Furthermore, the addition of UML diagramming templates and other various shapes would help to elevate the platform.
Miro starts at $8/user/month and has a freemium version of the software.
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.
The Best Wireframe Tools Comparison Chart
|Cacoo||Read Cacoo features & functionality|| |
14 days free trial
|From $6/user/month||Check out Cacoo|
|Sketch||Read Sketch features & functionality|| |
90 days free trial
|From $9/user/month||Check out Sketch|
|Adobe XD||Read Adobe XD features & functionality||Freemium version||From $9.99/user/month||Check out Adobe XD|
|Miro||Read Miro features & functionality||Freemium version||From $8/user/month||Check out Miro|
|Microsoft Visio||Read Microsoft Visio features & functionality|| |
30 days free trial
|From $6.40/user/month||Check out Microsoft Visio|
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.