Wireframe tools play a pivotal role in website designing. A wireframe, as every web designer worth his salt knows, is a skeleton website drawn with limited styling using basic shapes and lines. This helps designers figure content and layout placement. Wireframes are also great at measuring the responsiveness of your design. Besides, they easily pinpoint navigation and functionality issues that can affect the user experience. With free wireframe tools, it is easier to use the mobile-first approach to designing.
Wireframes help you envision what your website will look like when completed. They also help the UI/UX developers and web developers to get in sync.
How to identify the right wireframe tool?
There are many wireframe tools that you can utilise before you create a website. While there is no exhaustive checklist to identify the best free wireframe tool, you can look for the following features when choosing a tool to work on:
- Grayscale: A wireframe is meant to create a basic framework for the site. The key is to focus on layout, content placement, key offerings etc. Working with colours and themes will take away from the important work. Tools with grayscale feature help you prioritise what is important.
- Browser and OS compatibility: If you are designing for Linux, for example, you will need free wireframe tools that are compatible with the OS. Same goes for other browsers you may need to design for. When doing this, also check for design responsiveness.
- Team collaboration: Sometimes, you might need to share your work with others in your team. Free wireframe tools with a collaborative feature will be of great use in these cases.
Best free wireframe tools
If you have not used a wireframe tool before, or are thinking of trying out something new, we present to you a list of some of the top free wireframe tools available online that you can consider:
Website Wireframe is a highly simple tool that allows you to create a skeleton site in a matter of minutes. This tool can be used when in a time crunch or for pitching ideas. The tool allows you to share your work via messages or emails so your teammates can review your work and add feedback on the go. The simplicity of use, and high learning curve makes it a great tool for beginners or for non-designers.
A desktop application, Simple Diagrams helps you bring alive a thought or idea with the right amount of functionality and ease of design. Since it uses the Adobe AIR platform, the tool is compatible with MAC, Windows and Linux systems.
Simple Diagrams uses a bank of shapes and symbols that you can drag and drop to create your wireframe.
You can add post-it note, images and export your wireframe to a PNG format. Again, while this tool may not be chock-a-block with features, it does well enough for a basic DIY.
Are you a fan of the pen and paper method of designing things? Denim allows you to do something similar.
This multi-platform desktop app allows you to sketch your ideas and is great for brainstorming sessions and early-stage design.
Denim has a feature called ‘Components’ which allows you to create widgets. With the ‘Conditions’ feature, you can create transitions between pages. The result is highly interactive and effective.
If you love the Adobe products, you will love Mockflow. This is based on Adobe Flash Player and has an extensive editing set. The interface is clean and organised and simple enough to be used by novices. The tool works as a drag and drop mechanism.
You can add components from the built-in library which includes charts and drop downs.
Images can be uploaded easily, and you can even use elements like stickers and social media logos to add depth to your wireframe. The tool also integrates a live chat feature which allows you to talk to your teammates in real time.
The Pencil Project is an open source wireframe tool that is perfect for making diagrams and for GUI prototyping. You can use it as a Firefox add-on or as a stand-alone application. The tool is compatible with Windows and Linux. The tool gives you the ability to upload an external canvas on to your system and add shapes to it. You can then save this design and share it through various formats. Use the Clipart feature to add images directly from openclipart.org into your Pencil document. Or make your own shapes using the Stencil Generator – the tool works well either way.
Sometimes you want more than just a wireframe. Gliffy is the tool you can use in these cases. This web-based application allows you to make process-flow diagrams, office plans, technical drawings, network plans and so more. Use the drag-and-drop mechanism to add boxes and buttons as you need. The text feature lets you add content to these boxes.
Gliffy gives you access to a complete library of images, but the tool is flexible enough that you can add your own images. It also lets you share and collaboratively work your design, with the added ability to protect changes and track additions.
Lumzy is an online tool that can be used for mock-ups and porotype generation. This tool offers real-time collaborations with teammates with features like live chat and team editing. Lumzy also comes in a Pro version that integrates well into existing platforms. You can even host it on your own servers. This might be of use to companies that work with confidential information.
Based on the Cappuccino framework, this tool helps you create, link, share, and edit wireframes in a jiffy. The UI for this tool is clean and user-friendly. The drag-and-drop mechanism works well here too and features like interactive page linking, mockup sharing, and text resizing aid in the entire process of framework building.
So, these were our picks for some of the top free wireframe tools that everyone can use. Whether it is to create easy mockups or to see if the light bulb moment you had while driving to work holds any value, wireframe tools can be a great addition to your brand building exercise. And when you want to go pro, you can always give us a shout out and we would be glad to help you with our team of expert freelancers and web designers. Until then!
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