Wireframing software round-up
At work, we’re constantly looking at the best software for us to use for wireframing, and quite often prototyping too. We currently use a mixture of OmniGraffle & Axure - both pretty solid pillars of UX design. I like OmniGraffle a lot, and the drawing tools are way beyond Axure, but Axure’s use of masters and widgets is just leagues ahead. That, and the SVN-driven shared project functionality, mean its the only tool suitable for our large projects, and my software of choice at the moment.
But there are a lot of new kids on the block, and some old ones too. Here’s a list of everything we’ve come across on our travels:
The major players
Properly vector-based, unline Axure, with plenty of templates and interactive PDF output.
$199 per license, making it good value.
Not specifically for UX diagramming but a growing number of UX users. Less templates and stencils than Omnigraffle, and some quite basic interactivity functions.
$699 per license.
Desktop-based with online collaboration. Good community with plenty of widgets and layout grids.
$589 per license, though you can use that on two computers per user.
It wouldn’t be right to leave out Visio. For years it was the default tool for UX professionals - not perfect, but it did the job. But it never changed. New versions came out, with a host of new features, none of which would be useful, and the same old issues were still there - poor page management (no duplication, buggy stencils), shonky looking drop-shadows and transparency, and a lack of decent UX stencils - made worse as people walked away from Visio over to Omni & Axure. Nowadays we only use Visio on legacy projects, via a virtual machine on our macs.
£372 per license for the professional edition
Sketchy mockup tool, which has progressed from its Comic Sans roots into a massively popular tool for the UX community. Desktop & online pricing options.
Web-based: $49/month for up to 20 projects and unlimited users
First in the race to create a responsive wireframing solution, Reflow let’s you import Photoshop files and set break points to make them responsive, but drawing from scratch is frustrating, and there’s no scope for annotations, so it won’t suit all projects.
Get it while it’s free in beta
Advanced web-based wireframing tool with collaboration.
$28/m for 5 projects and unlimited users
Rich web-based prototyping ala Axure, with a strong emphasis on collaboration.
$95/m for 2 editors + 6 reviewers per project, so it works out expensive.
Desktop-based Axure clone. Includes main OS widgets + grid templates.
$495 per license
Good-looking newcomer, looks to have some very strong iOS prototyping features, and supports shared libraries across multiple docs with different ‘look & feel’ which seems to be their take on a stylesheet. Desktop-based, Mac only.
Mid-range pricing at $289 / license.
Real-time collaboration with chat. From £13 a month.
£31/m for the fully-featured package.
Focuses on flow charts and diagrams. Desktop & online options, although Desktop has better features
From 59 euro per license
Simple wireframe generation with some advanced features. Web-based.
$20/m for 10 projects
Basic web-based wireframing tool.
$69/year unlimited projects and users
Desktop-based, Balsami-esq, wobbly lined sketch-style mockups.
$75 per license
Collaborative, and cross-platform for Flash-based browsers.
$295/year for 5 users with unlimited projects
Embarrassingly-named and suitably ‘pink’ online mockup tool. I do wonder where the name came from - whether it was actually a team in-joke? The homepage states, “With ForeUI, your prototype project will be skinnable”!
Yes, another web-based wireframing tool. Nice and easy to get stuck into this one.
$9/m for 10 projects
Just for iOS apps, but fully featured, if you’re an app designer this could be the way forward.
$9.99 for iPad or iPhone
A promising new app with quick drawing tools and the option to add storyboards, but no guides or grid, and no printing options, so it’s only really useful for quick prototypes.
On the plus side, it’s FREE!
Update: Also worth mentioning is ‘UX Stage’, another free app for viewing mock-ups on your iPhone, which can also be used to create simple prototypes.
Also well worth a look
Not so much for wireframe design, but it does do prototypes, based on images you upload.
Simple iPhone app for mocking up mobile apps.
An HTML-based iPhone prototyping framework.
A boilerplate solution for creating HTML prototypes, seemingly based on Bootstrap. Some coding knowledge required.