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The 10 top wireframe tools for web designers

Wireframe tools: the top 10 solutions

Create your next prototype the easy way with our guide to the best wireframing tools out there.

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Every website design has to kick off somewhere, and in most cases, this initial starting point comes with the creation of wireframes. Choosing the right wireframe software can be a complex business, depending on your needs.

There are plenty of straightforward and user-friendly online wireframing tools that will sort you out with a quick prototype in no time at all, but if you want to create a more detailed site prototype, then you may be looking at shelling out a hefty wedge of cash to fulfil your needs.

Whatever you desire from your wireframes, there is more than enough choice to provide you with what you're after. So, here are 10 of our current favourites for your delectation.

01. Omnigraffle ($99.95)

Wireframe tools

A longstanding favourite with the Mac community (it's not available for Windows), Omnigraffle makes it easy to create interactive wireframes using its intuitive WYSIWYG system. Although originally designed as a diagram creation tool, Omnigraffle's wide range of free stencils from the likes of Yahoo makes it an ideal solution for prototyping. A 14-day trial is available.

Download the Omnigraffle free trial

02. Axure RP ($589)

Wireframe tools

Boasting a client list that encompasses many of the most successful companies around, Axure RP is a one of the most comprehensive pieces of wireframe software around. Available for both Mac and PC, Axure makes use of widgets, custom libraries and master documents  to streamline the process of creating wireframes, while annotating tools enable you to insert descriptions wherever necessary.

Download the Axure RP free trial

03. Balsamiq Mockups ($79)

 

Wireframe tools

If Omnigraffle and Axure RP aim to be one-stop shops for your wireframes from start to finish, then Balsamiq Mockups is unabashedly for people who want a quick and dirty layout. Built on Adobe AIR, so you'll need to have this installed beforehand, Balsamiq Mockups places a variety of hand-drawn pre-built objects at your disposal, with which you can fashion the beginnings of a mighty web presence.

Check out the Balsamiq Mockups web demo

04. Mockingbird (Free)

Wireframe tools

What could be easier than dragging your intended page elements onto a blank page to generate your shiny new wireframe? How about doing it all online, without having to sign up first, and with the option to share your creations with a simple click? Mockingbird is still in Beta, so expect the odd glitch.

Check out the Mockingbird interface for yourself

05. Jumpchart (from Free)

Wireframe tools

Any tool with a website as gorgeous as this one has to be good, and Jumpchart thankfully delivers on its promises. It uses a different input method to any other wireframe software we've tried; instead of dragging and dropping on a WYSIWYG interface, you chose elements from a drop-down menu. In the editing view, things can get quite confusing, but when it comes to previewing your work, everything is as it should be.

Check out Jumpchart for yourself

06. ProtoShare (from $29/month)

Wireframe tools

ProtoShare is the professional option when it comes to wireframe software, with names like Sony and Motorola plastered all over their site. Collaboration is key, with discussion fields present in all wireframes, not to mention the lure of real-time collaboration. Throw in the usual drag-and-drop components, as well as the ability to use CSS and Javascript, and you have a monster of a wireframer. It'll cost ya, though.

Download the free ProtoShare trial

07. Lumzy (Free)

Wireframe tools

We know what you're thinking: what the world really needs is an online wireframing tool called Lumzy. Despite the baffling name, Lumzy actually delivers the goods, offering a totally free service that comes across as a much, much smaller Axure RP. It might not be one for the design purists, but the results speak for themselves.

Check out the Lumzy interface for yourself

08. HotGloo (from $7/month)

Wireframe tools

If online help, a straightforward interface and a nice, cosy atmosphere were the markers to perfect wireframe software, then HotGloo would romp home with every title. In fact, HotGloo delivers on every front, with object selection about as easy as you could imagine, as well as a host of other features which should make your wireframing life a whole lot easier.

Check out HotGloo

09. FlairBuilder ($24/month or $99/life)

Wireframe tools

The aims of FlairBuilder should be familiar to you now: give users the chance to quickly and easily build wireframes and prototypes. With a host of features and a very speedy interface, FlairBuilder does the job, and gains even more marks by allowing you to assign a vast array of interactions to any element on the page.

Download the FlairBuilder free trial

10. iPhone Mockup (Free)

Wireframe tools

No wireframe software round-up would be complete these days without a nod to the iPhone at some point. This dedicated online service allows you to create basic layouts for your iPhone apps or sites and, while it doesn't do much else, its iPhone wireframe tools are superb, with all of the standard interface elements at your disposal, as well as a choice between illustration or pencil effect.

Check out iPhone Mockup

Words: Thomas Watson

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