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7 Free and Open Source Wireframe Tools to Optimize User Experience

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Updated 6/13/2018: This post was updated to include more free wireframe tools on the market and to exclude wireframe tools that no longer offer a free version.

Some people love surprises. They like to jump into things with no plan and see how it goes.

Though that might be a fun approach to seizing the day or to traveling around the world, I can tell you one thing it’s not at all good for: creating a website.

Even the simplest website involves lots of moving parts. But if your site is too complicated to navigate, your customers will leave almost immediately, meaning you’ll lose sales and the opportunity to engage with potential customers.

One way to create a good-looking site that your users will love is to wireframe it before touching any snippet of code in your favorite HTML editor.

free and open source wireframe tools

If you’re working with a team to design a site, app, or even a single webpage, a wireframe can also serve as a way to communicate exactly what you want your site to look like without going through the hassle of coding a prototype.

Ultimately, starting with a wireframe can save you hours of work on the backend. And it’s your best bet if you want to provide your site visitors with the best possible user experience.

The good news is you don’t have to be a developer to build one or drop a lot of money on fancy software to make one. There are quite a few free wireframe systems out there, and I’ll walk you through some of those no-cost options below.

7 free and open source wireframe tools

The free and open source wireframe tools included in this post all offer a “free forever” option, so there’s no need to whip out your credit card for them, even in the future.

As with most free systems, the trade-off is that you’ll likely get a limited version of a paid system, so I tried to outline where you might run into roadblocks.

The systems are listed in order of the number of user reviews they have on Capterra at the time of publication, highest to lowest.

1. Lucidchart

(536 reviews, 4.5 stars on Capterra)

Lucidchart open source wireframe tools

A wireframe in Lucidchart (Source)

Lucidchart is a full-featured, free wireframe builder and UI design tool. It offers easy collaboration on wireframes, allowing multiple people to edit the same wireframe simultaneously. It also has a Chrome add-on that makes it easy to add a Lucidchart diagram to Google Docs or Sheets, if that’s where your team is used to working.

What Capterra reviewers say: Reviewers love the fact that the system is cloud-based, integrates with a lot of other commonly used products, and offers a number of templates to help get you started on your designs. However, they’d like the system to be more intuitive, as well as the ability to customize their workspaces. They also note that the system can feel clunky and sluggish at times.

Free version’s limitations:

  • One user
  • Projects limited to 60 objects

Cost to upgrade: The lowest-priced paid Lucidchart plan starts at about $5 per month, for a single user. Team plans start at $20 per month.

Have you used Lucidchart? Leave a review!

2. InVision

(123 reviews, 4.5 stars on Capterra)

InVision open source wireframe tools

You can build “Inspiration Boards” in InVision to keep design ideas in one place (Source)

You can use InVision’s cloud-based solution to design and wireframe mobile apps and desktop sites, as well as to create architecture documentation and visualize navigation flows. Its built-in collaboration tools allow you to receive feedback from your teammates, and its interactive prototypes let testers navigate your app or webpage in a realistic manner.

What Capterra reviewers say: Users love InVision’s sleek, intuitive interface. They also like the ability to create professional looking, high-fidelity prototypes—which are reportedly great for presenting to clients—and the ease with which users can deliver and view feedback. Users do note, however, that the system could improve its animation capability. They also mention that, on occasion, prototypes look different in other systems than they do in InVision.

Free version’s limitations:

  • One prototype
  • One user

Cost to upgrade: The cheapest InVision plan costs $15 per month and allows space for up to three prototypes.

Have you used InVision? Leave a review!

3. Moqups

(11 reviews, 4.5 stars on Capterra)

Moqups open source wireframe tools

A design board and shape library in Moqups (Source)

Moqup is another cloud-based design option that comes equipped with a full library of stencils and icon sets. It offers the ability to import your own images to match your site’s look and feel. Its drag-and-drop editor allows your team to intuitively design wireframes of sites, flowcharts, and storyboards.

What Capterra reviewers say: Users love the easy drag-and-drop functionality, the system’s clean, intuitive interface, and the ease with which they can share designs with developers and clients. They wish, however, that the system offered more objects to choose from and would like to see an offline option from the company in the future.

Free version’s limitations:

  • One project
  • 300 object limit
  • 5 MB of storage

Cost to upgrade: The lowest-priced Moqups plan costs $13 per month, for one user and unlimited projects.

Have you used Moqups? Leave a review!

4. Wireframe.cc

(5 reviews, 4 stars on Capterra)

wireframe project in Wireframe.cc

A wireframe project in Wireframe.cc (Source)

Wireframe.cc is a great option for people who want a simple, uncluttered user interface. Instead of toolbars, Wireframe.cc offers options that pop up when you need them and stay hidden when you don’t. You can share live wireframes with your whole team for collaborative editing, and anyone with a link can comment on a wireframe, though unlocking this functionality does require upgrading.

What Capterra reviewers say: Users are quick to note that the minimalist UI is great for creating low fidelity mockups, but if you’re looking for anything more than that, the free version of Wireframe.cc might not be for you. Users also wish there were more online tutorials available that demonstrate how to get started with the system.

Free version’s limitations:

  • No user accounts
  • All your wireframes are public
  • Wireframes are limited to one page

Cost to upgrade: Premium versions of Wireframe.cc start at $16 per month for one user and unlimited projects.

Have you used Wireframe.cc? Leave a review!

5. MockFlow

(3 reviews, 2.5 stars on Capterra)

MockFlow open source wireframe tools

Mockflow’s wireframe editor (Source)

MockFlow offers an entire design library of templates to help you create website and app interface blueprints, sitemaps, and more. You can also choose from third-party templates, layouts, and components. The image and component collections include forms, navigation elements, shapes, and icons, so you can display a wide variety of elements in your mockups and wireframes.

What Capterra reviewers say: Only one reviewer left an explanation of their review, but they had quite a few good things to say about the system. According to this review, the free version of MockFlow offers a lot of functionality and is easy to use. However, there seem to be a few bugs in the system that have yet to be corrected.

Free version’s limitations:

  • One project
  • Up to two reviewers
  • Limited library access and integrations with third-party solutions

Cost to upgrade: Paid MockFlow plans start at $14 per month, for one user and unlimited projects.

Have you used MockFlow? Leave a review!

6. Fluid UI

(No reviews or ratings on Capterra)

Fluid UI open source wireframe tools

Fluid UI’s design tool (Source)

Fluid UI’s cloud-based wireframing solution offers designers a library of over 2,000 elements. You can create interactive prototypes and create page animations to get a better idea of how your final product will look and feel. You can also use Fluid UI’s Android and iOS apps to preview your prototypes on mobile interfaces.

What Capterra reviewers say: Fluid UI doesn’t have any reviews on Capterra yet.

Free version’s limitations:

  • One project
  • Ten pages
  • No ability to upload
  • Limited to the wireframe library
  • No ability for group members to leave comments or feedback

Cost to upgrade: Upgrading to the cheapest Fluid UI plan is only $8.95 per month and gives you access to more advanced design features, such as animated transitions. To collaborate with coworkers and teammates, you’ll need to upgrade to Fluid UI’s “Pro” plan, at about $19 per month.

Have you used Fluid UI? Leave a review!

7. Pencil

(No reviews or ratings on Capterra)

Pencil Project open source wireframe tools

A diagram in Pencil (Source)

Pencil is the only desktop-based wireframe tool on this list, and it’s open source, which means that every feature is available to all users for free. It was last updated in June 2017.

The system allows you to create multipage wireframes with links between pages. And—a bonus for your webmasters—when you export your wireframes to an HTML webpage, Pencil preserves the links, so you can share full app or website mockups with linking pages. Pencil also offers a number of templates, a library of shapes, and the ability to import external objects. You can take advantage of the system’s Android and iOS stencils to design for mobile.

What Capterra reviewers say: Pencil doesn’t have any reviews on Capterra yet.

Free version’s limitations:

  • Pencil is an open source tool, so the free version is full-featured.

Have you used Pencil? Leave a review!

What tools do you use for wireframing?

There are quite a few no-cost digital tools that allow you to create wireframes and get feedback in real time. If none of these wireframe options feels right for you, you can always check out any of the 30+ options in Capterra’s wireframe software directory.

For those of you who prefer digital collaborative tools for wireframing and product mockups, which are your favorites? What are you using that you love? Let me know in the comments below.

Other useful resources:

  • A guide to wireframing for those who are just starting out.
  • Stats on mobile UX from Capterra’s product team to remind you that desktop design shouldn’t be your biggest focus.

Looking for IT Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best IT Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Kelsie Anderson

Kelsie is a writer and researcher for Capterra. She has a background in English and French literature, so she can read pretty good. When she's not reading and writing about software trends, she enjoys reading about literally anything else, dabbling in comedic pursuits, and settling Catan.

Comments

Cathy – thank you for providing this review of open-source wireframe tools. I am unashamedly new to the process but want to develop an application that allows others in my profession to benefit from the many years experience I’ve developed in my field of expertise.

I like the sound of Pencil, since it’s the tool I mostly use in the beginning to express and illustrate my ideas, so this will be my first choice. And if I find it wanting I would migrate to Lucidchart.

To anyone reading Cathy’s review who happens upon my comment, please feel free to share with me your experience with either of these tools.

I’m sorry but LucidChart, Mockflow, and Wireframe.cc are not “free and open source”. If the source code is not available, then the software is NOT “open source”

Also see: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html

I like MockFlow.. But what about Pingendo.. Its open source and free..

We published a similar, updated version of this post, containing 20 mockup tools. Could be a great addition to this one 🙂

Link: http://codingsans.com/blog/mockup-tools

I don’t think you know the definition of neither open source, nor free as different as these two terms can be when compared to each other directly.

I tried using Lucidchart, even something as basic as grid is part of the paid version. . .it’s not free!

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