Every new product starts out as a basic and vague concept. This initial outline of an idea or a concept is called a wireframe. Since wireframes are such an integral part of the creative process, there are many wireframing tools available for use.
These tools can help you interpret the design aspect of the product and communicate your ideas effectively to the stakeholders. While most of the tools have all of the features you could ever want when creating wireframes, not all of these tools are intuitive or provide the highest level of granularity that you might be after.
Benefits of a Free Wireframe Tool
The main benefit of a wireframing tool is that it gives you a layout to work with when designing the layout of your website, app or product. But there are more benefits to wireframing tools ranging from accessibility and clarity to the ability to refine your concepts as you go.
Wireframing tools come in various forms, including browser extensions, applications, software and plugins. With so many options to choose from, the tools are accessible and usable from virtually anywhere. Moreover, these tools make it possible for your team to collaborate, share comments and pin requirements, making it easier for everyone to understand the problems they are working to solve.
Clarity on Projects
With a wireframe tool, you will unlock a lot of clarity. Your project will be simple and to the point thanks to these wireframing tools which are intentionally designed to conceptualize the initial framework of your project. Wireframing tools clearly identify the focus of your project and allow you to prioritize the key requirements and end goal.
With wireframing tools, you can refine your initial concept as you go and work to improve the end result as you progress without having to completely start over. Being able to reevaluate the efficacy of your progress which ultimately saves a lot of resources, time and effort.
Factors to Look for in the Best Free Wireframe Tools
Once you understand the benefits of a wireframing tool, you will probably be intrigued and eager to try one out for you and your team. Whether you have implemented a wireframing tool already or you are still thinking about it, consider the following key points when conducting your research.
Before diving into the marketplace looking for a wireframe tool, you need to consider the scope of your project. You might be looking to start a website, create an application prototype or demo a product to your clients. Your wireframing tool needs to be able to assist you with your end goals. Ensure that your tool of choice can help you reach your project requirements.
When prototyping or wireframing, you will be working with multiple file types. If you want to develop a mobile app, it will require that you import interface components. If you are working on website mockups, you will need an app that supports the format of these images. Opt for a wireframe tool that supports the right file types for your project.
Choosing a single tool that can manage everything your project needs is not easy. To ensure maximum usage and efficiency, you should consistently anticipate your future requirements. When considering which wireframe tool to invest in, make sure you prioritize flexibility so that you can use the same wireframing tool from the start of your project development plan to the very end.
While there are plenty of wireframe tools available for free, you will likely run into a situation where what you need can only be achieved with premium tools. However, many premium features are either overwhelming, unnecessary or anything but useful. When considering a wireframe tool, be sure to look at the features you’ll be paying for and find the tool that offers the most relevant features for your project.
Best Free Wireframe Tools
Now that we have insight into what to look for when considering a wireframe tool, let’s look at some of the best free wireframe tools.
Mockplus is a free wireframe tool that is ideal for those involved in website design and mobile app development. With Mockplus, you can create while testing your design along the way, giving you clear insight into what works and what doesn’t.
This tool features an array of creative icons, UI components and templates that give you a head start in the design process. Another feature worth highlighting is the complete set of animation and interactive elements available on Mockplus. You can use these features to add realism to the wireframes you create. With Mockplus, you can also collaborate with your team and work on a single project effortlessly.
The elements offered by Mockplus are very simple for a wireframe tool, so it does not meet high-fidelity wireframe standards. However, the features are very user-friendly.
Mockplus has a 30-day trial period, after which you need to pay a one-time fee of $89 for a single-user license.
Rating: 4 Stars
Balsamiq is a web-based free wireframe tool that allows you to create effortless prototypes quickly. It also offers a running and testing environment for your wireframes as well as the ability to collaborate as a team.
Balsamiq provides access to a vast collection of UI elements and templates that serve as references and inspiration for designers. This wireframing tool is also relatively easy to implement as it incorporates the drag-and-drop feature to create wireframes. Balsamiq offers built-in elements for presentations that make interacting with your clients seamless.
Its primary drawback is the lack of animations and interactive components. In addition, this wireframing tool is not suitable for larger prototypes.
Balsamiq comes with a free 30-day trial period. After this, you will have to purchase a license for $16 per month.
Rating: 4 Stars
NinjaMock is a free wireframe tool that is best for teams of designers and developers that are working on mobile applications and websites. It offers an easy, collaborative interface where multiple people can work on a project simultaneously and effortlessly contribute to the design together. NinjaMock is easy to understand and implement, making it user-friendly.
With NinjaMock, you’ll get access to intuitive design elements, UI components and templates. Another impressive feature of this tool is that their mobile app makes it possible to implement your concept on-the-go. NinjaMock also lets you create unique links for a more interactive and shared experience when navigating the wireframe.
The biggest downside is the pricing. This wireframing tool comes with a more expensive plan so it might be too costly for users working on a large team of people. NinjaMock’s premium plans cost $10, $20 or $30 per month. The exact cost will depend on the number of users that you plan to onboard for the project.
Rating: 4 Stars
Figma stands out because it is a cloud-based wireframe tool that is also great for collaborative processes. Although most designers prefer Figma as a prototype and graphic design tool, it also is an excellent wireframe tool. With Figma, you can create any wireframe no matter if it’s designed for low-fidelity projects or and high-fidelity designs.
Flexibility is the biggest advantage of this tool. Figma has an expansive layout that allows you to create multiple designs for a single project. You can even develop iterations of each design next to each other for ease of reference. It also has extensive pre-built components that you can use.
However, Figma is a multipurpose tool which may not make it ideal for those specifically looking for a wireframe tool. While it does have plenty of features that are useful when wireframing, Figma might be overwhelming for those who do not require any additional components.
This tool is free to use for up to three projects with no more than two editors. If you need to upgrade, expect to pay $12 per editor per month.
Rating: 4 Stars
Pencil Project is an entirely free wireframe tool, meaning you don’t have to upgrade to a premium version in order to access all of the available features. Not only is it completely free of cost, but this tool is also downloadable on both macOS and Windows. If you use Firefox, there is a browser extension available as well.
Pencil Project gives you access to an array of interactive elements that are ideal for creating mockups, prototypes and wireframes. It features an accessible UI that is easy to understand and designed for beginners. Pencil Project’s diverse UX tools are especially great for diagramming.
Its main drawback is the way Pencil Project is limited when it comes to collaboration. The collaborative features are non-existent, making it impossible to utilize this wireframing tool if you are working as a team or trying to tackle larger projects. Some users have also noted that the available features of Pencil Project are outdated.
Rating: 4 Stars
Wireframe Your Project For Maximum Efficiency
Wireframing is a significant part of the design process. In fact, it is the initial step of every project. Free wireframe tools are a great way to initiate and implement a collaborative and creative wireframing process. However, as most of these tools require you to eventually purchase a premium plan, you might want to consider the requirements before committing to a wireframing tool.
The best way to start looking for a wireframing tool is to first understand your needs. What do you want out of a wireframing tool? What’s most important to you? Once you have outlined your preferences, try the free version of the tools to assess whether or not what they offer is adequate enough for you. If a free version isn’t available, check to see if you can purchase a plan that only offers the features you need