SaaS

The Best Wireframing Tools, According to UX Specialists

best-wireframing-tools-recommendation

This article has been updated on May 14th, 2020.

Wireframing is a very important part of the design process. Whether it’s for an app, a website, or a product, it is where core structures, visual elements, actions, and flows are defined.

According to a designer friend of mine, wireframing is the first real visual guide to whatever you are developing. Here, the ideas that got bounced around and sketched out start to grow legs, or else are left behind for good.

This is not a friendly reminder of what the wireframing stage is about, but a vital piece of information to keep in mind at the moment of choosing the best wireframe tools. 

Why? Because unlike the more open-ended steps of brainstorming and sketching, wireframing is where the expertise brought by UX experts and designers really starts to show. And this expertise is extensive to tool recommendations as well.

So, if you are interested in learning what the best wireframing tools are, take a seat and see which tools designers are recommending in 2020.

Which Are The Best Wireframing Tools? Let’s Ask Designers!

In order to help you pick wireframing tools, I reached out to more than 100 design experts from all over the world, and asked them two simple questions:

  • In your experience, which are the best and second-best wireframing tools?
  • What makes you consider your first choice as the best tool?

Below you will find what they told me.

1. Olha Bahaieva, Senior UX/UI Designer

A six-time winner in international design contests and senior designer at Toptal, Olha specializes in UX/UI, branding, and ideation. Here are her recommendations:

Best wireframing tool: Axure

Second best: Balsamiq

axure-wireframing-tool-website

Why Axure?

Axure is flexible, and has lots of pros for me:

  • You can create low and high-fidelity wireframes
  • There are prototyping and linking options
  • It can also be used as a design tool

Balsamiq is good too; easy to learn and use, and comes with a useful library of elements.

2. Sebastian Nils Mitchell, Freelance Digital Product Designer

Sebastian designs digital apps. He has worked with organizations like Nokia, the UN, and the Red Cross to create high-quality software that helps users achieve their goals. Here’s what he recommends when it comes to wireframing:

Best wireframing tool: Figma

Second best: Sketch

figma-wireframing-tool-website-screenshot

Why Figma?

For me, Figma is the best, because it’s:

  • Browser and desktop-based
  • Collaborative
  • Commenting is super easy and fluid
  • Has in-built prototyping

There’s a bit of a learning curve for wireframing if you’re not familiar with design tools, but it’s easily outweighed by the super simple commenting/collaboration tools, and the prototyping features.

It’s missing a few small features that Sketch does better (e.g. easy text scaling) but overall it’s a more useful wireframing tool.

3. Matt Willett, Visual Designer and Creative Consultant

Matt is a designer with a penchant for making the mundane magical.

Best wireframing tool: Sketch

Second best: Adobe XD, InVision Studio

sketch-wireframing-tool-web-screenshot

Why Sketch?

I have found that wireframing tools are in two classes: ideation and iteration. For ideation, nothing beats a classic pen and paper. But for iteration, Sketch still holds the crown for me.

Leveraging Sketch’s advanced symboling and prototyping features you can quickly:

  • Spin up a clickable prototype
  • Change it on the fly
  • Test on-device to get an initial sense of blocking or scale

The best tool has the right amount of smarts but doesn’t try to augment or interfere with your thinking.

Sketch works for my workflows and projects because the interface and toolset are helpful enough without being prescriptive.

Wireframes are about exploring options, not necessarily conforming to what a vendor might suggest or be limited to.

4. Nik Gupta, UX designer

Nik is a freelance UX Designer with a tech background. He brings together scientific methods, tech trends and critical thinking to drive a more empathic future for the perception and experience of technology.

Best wireframing tool: Sketch

Second best: Axure

Why Sketch? 

The developers behind Sketch seem to really understand the needs of designers. They’ve made it into an extremely powerful tool for creating beautiful wireframes quickly, and with minimal frustration.

5. Ryan Parag, Digital Product Designer

Ryan is driven to learn why people do what they do to create experiences that are intuitive and successful. He helps rethink, prototype and design solutions to help bring empathy and simplicity into complex problems.

Best wireframing tool: Figma

Second best: Whimsical

whimsical-wireframing-tool-screenshot

Why Figma?

Figma lets me consolidate my toolset. Working from pen and paper to wireframe/prototype, to design review, to code, is quicker than ever for me.

Before using Figma, I was using 3-4 tools to manage designs, wireframe, prototype, and handover designs to product managers and engineers. But with Figma, I’m able to do all of those things with a single tool, and much more rapidly.

Also, the Figma community is a great place to share resources and know-how that helps save a ton of time.

6. Chukwunonso Obidike, UX Designer

Chukwunonso is a freelance UX/UI designer from Nigeria. On top of his work as a designer, he serves as a pastor and spiritual counselor.

Best wireframing tool: Figma

Second best: Adobe XD

adobe-xd-wireframing-tool-screenshot

Why Figma?

I use Figma to design my wireframes because Figma is very light — it demands less storage space and computing power than XD. In addition, it makes it easy to collaborate with teams and clients.

Moreover, you can choose to download the Figma app or work online, and having these options is important for me.

7. Adam Cain, UX Director

Adam Cain is the UX Director at Power Target, one of the largest and fastest-growing energy comparison shopping platforms in the United States.

Best wireframing tool: pen, pencil, and a fresh piece of 8×10 copy paper

Second best: Figma

pencil-paper-wireframes

Why pen and paper?

With a pen, pencil, and paper, you can rapidly work through ideas. These basic tools allow you to literally crumple up and throw away the ideas that don’t work, and end up with a straight forward outline of what you’re trying to accomplish.

This forces you to think about and validate your design at the highest level before diving into (and potentially getting lost in) the details.

8. Ali Al-Janabi, Multidisciplinary Visual Designer

Ali is a Senior Visual Designer at Intuit, where he focuses on crafting quality, useful visual experiences.

Best wireframing tool: Figma

Second best: none

Why Figma?

I’ve been using Figma as my to-go tool for designing flows, ideation, and design execution. It’s my go-to tool because of the following:

  • Super light-weight
  • Available across all platforms

When it comes to an end-to-end experience, I also think about how my clients will review the work. In this line, being able to send a link so they can see my work on a browser is pretty useful and convenient. Clients tend to hate installing apps to review work!

9. Mark Dodgson, CXO at RelevantBits

Mark has been working in the User Experience industry since before it had a title. His UX and Design contributions can be found at organizations like Autodesk, Red Hat, Sonos, TripAdvisor, UCLA, and Stanford University.

Best wireframing tool: Sketch

Second best: Figma

Why Sketch?

Sketch is my go-to tool for a number of reasons:

  • It’s well-recognized as an industry standard
  • Continuous updates that make the product better
  • Easy to use
  • Flexible, meaning you can use it for user journeys, wireframing, comping, and more
  • It has symbols for powerful design workflows

If I had to mention a downside to sketch, it would be its lack of true interaction modeling. This an area where Figma has an advantage in my opinion.

10. Denis Zhekov, Product Designer

Denis is a UI/UX specialist, currently working as a product designer for Smule, one of the most popular social singing apps out there.

Best wireframing tool: Figma

Second best: Overflow

overflow-design-tool-homepage

Why Figma?

I use Figma in combination with Overflow.

I made a library in Figma that includes wireframe components. It is easy to update, and if need something that is missing I can design it just once and then reuse it in other projects. While creating of the library is a bit of a pain, you can always start with already existing libraries and build on top of them.

Another feature I like is the comments clients can leave, it really saves some unnecessary meetings.

The Designers Have Spoken

Figma stood out as the preferred tool among UX/UI designers, followed by Sketch, Adobe XD, and Axure.

The consulted professionals valued its cross-platform nature, as well as the project management-oriented features of the product, which simplify the tasks of collaborating with team members and clients.

Automating Wireframing

For those who are curious, it is entirely possible to automate tasks surrounding the production of wireframes on Figma with Integromat.

Integromat features several Figma modules that are particularly useful for project managers overseeing large design projects. Those who had trouble managing and keeping track of Figma files will be able to turn the situation around and add extra capabilities to an already robust product.

Well, that’s all for today, folks. With a clearer picture of which tools designers prefer for wireframing, I’m confident you will have an easier choice ahead.