A few years ago there were only a handful of wireframing tools available, which I found either too cumbersome or too expensive to bother with. 

Nowadays it seems that a new app for creating mockups is launched every week. Some of them are excellent, and a welcome addition to the UX toolkit.

Many user experience classicists still prefer a pen and paper, and that’s always a smart place to start. I’m slightly odd in that I produce most of my wireframes using Microsoft Excel (well, those columns and rows do make for a nice grid). 

These new tools really come into their own when you want to bring other people into the picture, as many of them allow for collaboration.

Anyhow, do check them out, and by all means point at some others in the comments section below.


A minimal online tool that provides allows you to rapidly mock up page layouts, and which requires no registration to use it, or to save your work. You can choose from mobile and desktop templates.


An impressively powerful HTML5 app with plenty of common web elements that you can make use of when designing your pages. Easy to use, with desktop, mobile and tablet templates.



FlairBuilder is a desktop app for creating interactive wireframes, which allows teams / clients to play with the prototypes.  Includes more than 70 drag and drop components and widgets.

Fluid UI

A lovely tool with lots of features for creating mobile app prototypes. Provides a canvas to see the big picture, as well as the page-level detail. Dive straight in, no immediate registration required.

Google Drawings

Morten Just has made a bunch of stencils for Google Drawings, to help people use it for wireframing. 


A paid-for tool (with a limited access free option) that should be of interest to UX professionals. Includes the usual drag and drop functionality, alongside a comprehensive library of user interface elements. It also allows you to show different content states (for example, to show what a logged in user would see vs a new visitor). 


This one flips wireframing on its head, by giving you the option to turn existing web pages into wireframes in just one click. 

iPhone Mockup

Allows multiple users to work on wireframes for iPhone apps. Changes are rendered in real-time.


An iPad app for wireframing “on the go”. 



You want lo-fi? You got it…

Or alternatively there's always this...

[Image credit @organised]

Chris Lake

Published 7 November, 2012 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (11)

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I can recommend Balsamiq (http://www.balsamiq.com), probably far more feature rich and user friendly than any of the above. I've used it over the last 6 months and even during that time they've rolled out a significant number of upgrades and improvements.

over 5 years ago


Peter Severin

Hey, you missed WireframeSketcher, another desktop wireframing tool: http://wireframesketcher.com

It lets you create wireframes using clean or sketchy styles; comes with lots of builtin controls and icons but can also be extended with custom controls; comes with stencils for mobile apps; screens can be linked to create interactive prototypes; results can be exported to PNG or clickable PDF and HTML. All graphics are vector based so that your results are always crisp and good looking.

over 5 years ago

Chris Rourke

Chris Rourke, Managing Director at User VisionSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Chris

Thanks for the summary of these. You're right, it seems every few weeks I hear about yet another good sounding wireframing / prototyping tool. Spoiled for choice now compared to when it was Omnigraffle, Visio and....pen and paper. Anyway someone has put together another good listing of these tools you might want to check out.
No doubt there will be another before the end of the year.

over 5 years ago

Albie Attias

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers Ltd

Although not new, my prototyping tool of choice has to be Axure (http://www.axure.com/). I've been using it for years and have yet to see a more comprehensive wireframing and prototyping tool. One of it's greatest features is the ability to create pixel perfect prototypes simulating a finished, working site by taking a set of designs, carving them up and jigsawing together pages that appear fully functional, complete with all the interactive elements like dropdown menus, hover behaviours, form submissions etc.

over 5 years ago

Steve Wrigley

Steve Wrigley, Digital Strategist at CTI Digital

great list & I've used a few of those mentioned.. I guess like most things It's down to personal preference.. for me, pen & paper for low-fidelity wires & axure for high-fidelity prototypes. A nice post on fidelty here http://www.jamieclouting.co.uk/2012/07/prototyping-understanding-the-benefits-to-fidelity/

over 5 years ago

Joe Friedlein

Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media

Another vote for Axure for me. It is superb!

over 5 years ago


David Abreu, Online Service Manager at Personal

Yes, I am also a big fan of Axure. Particularly like the way you can autocreate a specification document for your website, direct from the prototype file. Saves lots of time once you have set the basic structure up. Very impressive!

over 5 years ago

Sarah Alder

Sarah Alder, Managing Director at ICAEW

I use Cacoo, which is fine for relatively basic wireframes. Of course by the time I get to the point that I realise I need a couple of more complex wireframes, I have them all set up in Cacoo and can't face moving to another more sophisticated tool. And so the sorry tale continues.

But Chris's post has come at just the right time, I am about to start a new set of wireframes next week, I have only done one basic wireframe for that project so far, so now is the perfect time to leap into something new.

Also one of my New Year's resolutions (hey, remember those?) was to make more effort to use new tools - and I don't have long left to fulfil it.

Thanks Chris, Econsultancy to the rescue again.

over 5 years ago


rapid prototyping

That's very helpful and interesting.Great work!!! :)

over 5 years ago


eileen coyle, marketing at fluidui

Thanks a lot for the mention from the fluidui team!

over 3 years ago


Andrew Micallef, Product Manager at QuickFocus

I also suggest SnapUp by www.quickfocus.com. It's extremely powerful when different people are working on the same wireframe with having multiple versions. It also helps users generate documentation that can be used as requirements or specification document for clients or development team.

over 3 years ago

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