Wireframes are the starting point of any website and program design. They can be used to create a quick sketch of a design or produce something closer to a functional model.
But, what is a wireframe exactly and what are the best tools for wireframing?
Let’s find out.
A wireframe is a two-dimensional skeletal outline of a website or app, much like a construction plan. Wireframes detail a page’s structure, style, information architecture, user flow, functionality, and behavioural expectations.
As a wireframe usually depicts a product’s initial concept, it’s important to keep design, colour, and graphics to a minimum.
Depending on how much detail you need, wireframe design can be sketched by hand or produced digitally. For example, UX designers use UX wireframes the most.
But, before the developers write the code for the UI, all stakeholders must agree on app interference and where the content will be displayed.
The three basic forms of wireframes are low-fidelity, mid-fidelity, and high-fidelity wireframes. Each form of a wireframe is a continuation of the one before.
A low-fidelity wireframe is a graphic representation of a website at a very basic level. As such, it’s usually rough and lacks any sense of scale, layout, or pixel accuracy.
This type of wireframe often consists of simple pictures, block forms, and even generic content—like labels and headings—to eliminate any unnecessary distractions.
Unlike a low-fidelity wireframe, a mid-fidelity wireframe has more graphic page layout descriptions.
In this type of wireframe, the focus is on specific components and features, but the details are still scarce when it comes to graphics and typography.
Designers can use wireframe design tools to make different shades of grey to indicate the visual significance of separate elements and make them distinguishable from one another at this stage of the process.
Finally, high-fidelity wireframes, which are typical for the later stages of the design process, boast pixel-specific layouts.
Consequently, these wireframes incorporate content, typefaces, colours, picture dimensions, and branding elements to paint a detailed picture of what a web or an app would look like.
In order to create an efficient website, it’s critical to nail down the framework. If you dive right into designing without considering the information hierarchy and user experience, you may find yourself making a lot of adjustments afterwards.
Creating a brief wireframe is an additional step in the process, and it can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Wireframes allow you to understand the project better and define the site features. You can later use it to fine-tune it and reduce the risk of re-design.
Wireframing assists you in prioritising site pieces and gives you an idea of what information is most important to visitors and how that information will perform in different places and devices.
Wireframing can also designers and site owners organize the website more efficiently to match the page’s content, length, and style.
If you go overboard with wireframes, they will likely take up too much of your time. Remember, wireframes are meant to help you set up the blueprints of your site’s flow, so it shouldn’t be a significant and time-consuming challenge.
Editing a drawing in a wireframe can be a tedious task. In case you need to edit a drawing more than once, you can use applications, like Balsamiq, which make it much easy to make essential adjustments.
We often associate wireframes with desktop website wireframes. But, mobile wireframes are just as important. So, what are the main differences between the two?
One important distinction is layouts. A wireframe for a website may have a structure that spans numerous columns due to the screen width on a desktop version, for example. However, in a mobile app, the number of columns is usually limited to one or two.
Another significant difference between a website and a mobile wireframe is behaviour. For example, on a website, the user browses the page with a mouse or trackpad and might even hover over specific interactions to discover menus. On the other hand, the phone users will have to tap the screen to perform the same actions.
Figma is one of the best wireframe tools because it features advanced cloud-based design gives customers the opportunity to develop three projects for free, before having to choose one of their paid plans.
Figma is a user-friendly platform. It has a single panel that allows users to easily switch between layers, pages, and artboard. What’s more, the app doesn’t have its own built-in Uis and allows users to upload their own or use a pre-made kit.
Figma has a free plan for those who want to try it out, and a Professional subscription, which includes limitless projects and costs $12 per user per month. If you are new to Figma, there are a lot of web design courses specifically designed for beginners.
Sketch is a wireframe maker for app prototyping with a reputation as a simple vector design tool. It has a number of extensions, plugins, and a vibrant user community. Its Symbol tool is a unique feature, as it allows you to build items that automatically repeat across your whole layout.
Individual subscriptions for Sketch cost $99 annually. You can keep using the tool if you don’t renew your membership, but you won’t get automatic updates or be able to store files in the cloud.
Adobe XD is a vector-based wireframe creator and is one of the top paid tools out there. It’s designed to integrate with other Adobe products like Illustrator, Photoshop, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Stock.
With straightforward tools for building flowcharts, site maps, and storyboards, as well as a comprehensive array of prototyping tools, Adobe XD focuses on making the wireframing process as efficient and easy as possible.
If you’re looking for free wireframe software, Adobe XD offers a 7-days trial. Its paid plan costs $9.99 per month.
UXPin is a strong wireframing tool that allows you to create maps from a collection of user interface components, combine them into UX patterns, test your wireframes, obtain feedback from subjects, and work with peers in live time.
Furthermore, many UXPin elements include increased interaction, allowing you to replicate the user experience while actively designing your layout.
UXPin offers free trials for all its subscription plans. Its startup plan costs $89 monthly per editor, while its company plan costs $119 monthly per editor. There’s an option for a custom-made membership as well. If you are new to UX design but still want to learn how to use UXPin, there are plenty of courses that are great for beginners.
Cacoo is an excellent wireframe tool for both low and mid-fidelity wires. It’s cloud-based, with a strong focus on communication and teamwork, including high-quality presentation tools and opportunities to share your ideas with coworkers.
In addition, Cacoo boasts numerous templates to choose from and tools for developing user flows, prototypes, and diagrams.
Cacoo is the best free wireframe tool when it comes to affordability. It has a two-month free trial and charges only $5 per month for its paid plans if billed annually.
Balsamiq Wireframes is a simplistic web-based, online wireframe tool that allows web designers to create straightforward wireframe designs. Balsamiq Wireframes is a relatively simple alternative to some of the more comprehensive tools on this list, with its hand-drawn appearance that evokes the design-on–a-napkin concept.
All paid plans allow an unlimited number of users and vary from $9 to $199. Balsamiq also offers a 30-day free trial.
Wireframe.cc is the perfect tool for designers looking for a quick and effective way to assemble basic wireframes. The interface of this web-based wireframe app is simple and using this tool is similar to creating elements on paper and then cutting and pasting them onto your project.
The design templates on Wireframe.cc are elementary and include mobile landscape, mobile vertical, and webpage.
Wireframe.cc offers Solo ($16), Trio ($39), and Enterprise ($99) plans, depending on how many editors will use it on a monthly basis.
Justinmind is a wireframing application for less tech-savvy designers. As such, it is less sophisticated than alternatives such as Figma or Sketch, but it is also convenient and practical.
The platform is designed for building wireframes that can be tested as prototypes straight away, and it comes with a variety of interactive concept features.
What makes Justinmind one of the best wireframing tools is its excellent free plan that offers unlimited projects and many useful features. Their standard paid plan costs $9 monthly.
Mockflow is great tool for wireframing and developing web and mobile apps. This program not only offers incredible tools and templates for quick wireframing but also includes website construction, banner design, collaborative features, and timeline management. These extra perks make it much easier to share your wires and move forward in the design phase.
Because the free subscription is somewhat limited, most users feel compelled to upgrade to the paid plan, which costs $16 per month.
Mockflow is designed for wireframing and mockup creation, so if you need something for prototyping and user testing, you might want to look for something else.
Moqups is web software that provides users with tools to build wireframes, mockups, and prototypes with Moqups, a web software.
Moqups is a cloud-based service with a single and easy-to-use interface that allows you and your team to work remotely. Moqups’ main advantage is that it enables users to shift between diagrams, wireframes, and prototypes without switching platforms.
Moqups’ primary goal is to provide a single unified workflow that continually eliminates the need to switch between various single-purpose apps.
Unfortunately, Moqups doesn’t have a free plan, but it only costs $13 per month.
Wireframes are the backbones of web design. Luckily, they are plenty of programs nowadays that can make the process easy and more comprehensible. Each software program has its own set of functions, which can ultimately help determine wireframing tool is best for you or your team.
Every wireframe tool has different features, so it really depends on what you need. Cacoo, Adobe XD, and Figma offer freat free plans for beginners.
Figma is a digital design and prototyping tool. It’s a user interface and user experience design program that lets you make websites, apps, and smaller user interface components and add them to other projects.
Adobe XD is a vector-based wireframing tool that’s one of the top paid tools out there. It’s designed to integrate with other Adobe products like Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Fonts, and Adobe Stock.
Wireframes are helpful for various things. It’s main purpose is to connect the site’s information architecture to its visual design by displaying routes between pages.
What is a wireframe? It is basically a prototype of a website on virtual paper. Let’s put it this way: All wireframes are prototypes, but not all prototypes are wireframes.