Choosing a Wireframing Tool – A Practical Approach
Being a web developer or a web designer is awesome because it gives you the chance to create great things by yourself. You might devise something that comes across as commonplace at first and after a while turns into a fully-fledged international success, thus changing your life for good.
First things first. If you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, you need to understand that different people have different visions. What’s that to you? Well, I know you like to believe that your idea is a real goldmine, but unless you deliver it in a proper wrapping, your boss, financer, and even your best friend may think that it’s a complete waste of time. It all comes down to presentation, because hardly anyone reinvents the wheel.
The crucial starting point of any brand new project is to sketch a crystal clear plan, which you need to do before writing the first line of code. This is called wireframing, and it’s a vital step in the process of designing the project. Why? Because it gives you an outline of how your application works.
In short, a wireframe is some kind of a blueprint that provides an overview of all the project’s functionalities before you actually get to work. Therefore, you end up saving a tremendous amount of resources because you identify certain errors before your application goes into production phase.
If you have never used an application for wireframing before, then the following showcase will help you decide upon a tool.
A simple to use yet powerful wireframe tool
There is a misconception that in order to create something intricate you’ll need a tool that requires a big learning curve. Well, that’s not true or at least not today. In our case, a wireframe tool must be easy to use in order to jump right in and avoid spending a lot of time learning how to operate it. Also it must have a good library of components that will help you design sketches without searching and importing basic graphic details such as buttons, containers and so on.
I recommend PowerMockup thanks to its unique way of making wireframing easy to use. Also let’s not forget its integration with Microsoft PowerPoint, which basically means that if you ever used Microsoft Office, you already know how to use PowerMockup.
A tool designed for team collaboration
If you are a freelancer or you work alone on a project then you probably don’t need too many tools focused on team collaboration, but if you must be in permanent contact with other colleagues then you should search for a wireframe app that gives you this option. For this you should use UXPin, which helps you collaborate in real time with your team.
UXPin is packed with everything you need in order to create a wireframe but also some more advanced features such as version control, shareable reviews, responsive designs and smart elements.
A wireframe tool designed for Linux
Usually designers are working either on Microsoft Windows based computers, or on Macs but there is also a niche group that use Linux as the main operating system. This can be problematic when it comes to finding a tool because unfortunately the range of choice is a little narrow.
For working under Linux I’m recommending WireframeSketcher, a tool developed as a plugin for Eclipse. It helps you create your own templates, widgets and icons and also to collaborate with others. Furthermore it has support for creating wireframes for smartphones, which is a big plus.
A browser based wireframe tool
If you like working on the cloud and portability is the ultimate price, then you should focus on a solution that is browser based. Usually this means giving up some benefits that native applications have but if you are only interested in sketching something fast then an online tool will do the trick.
Wireframe.cc is a great example of a browser-based wireframe application that is simple, intuitive and free. It has a minimal interface and comes with a clear ideology: if you want your wireframes to be crisp and clear, you should keep them simple. Wireframe.cc will give you a very limited palette of options, this way the essence of your idea will never be lost.
Overall, I hope this list served you well, and that the examples used in this article prove useful. Everything I wrote here is drawn from my own personal experience going back to when I had to find the best wireframe tool for my team.
And if you were to ask me what I’m using right now, my answer would be PowerMockup and Wireframe.cc.