What is UI?
UI is an abbreviation from User Interface. The term basically covers “the means in which a person controls a software application or hardware device. A good user interface provides a "user-friendly" experience, allowing the user to interact with the software or hardware in a natural and intuitive way.”1
How do we use UI tools?
At StartupWorks we need them at early project collaboration with a client, meaning structuring website or app architecture and information set-up. We put a lot of effort in client cooperation at this point as it’s important to optimise client’s vision and our experience to create a perfect product. Mockups are plans for developers and designers, without a plan their job would be chaotic and far from efficient. UI tools are one of those things we use to save time and avoid extra costs for our clients.
What features do we look for in UI tools?
1. Web based application
2. Possibility of adding team members (clients included)
3. Comments available for all users
4. Variety of mockup creation components
5. Responsive design availability
6. Easy and fast file uploading
7. Compatibility of all mockups in a project. (a possibility to copy, move components)
The basis of the comparison are criteria above. If a feature is not mentioned it means it’s in a tool and it’s doing well.
When it comes to work on mockups in a team, UX Pin ticks all the (above) boxes for us. What is more, it’s intuitive and transparent interface offers wide range of features like rulers or guides just like in Photoshop. You can find there the most developed component library and free video tutorials on their YouTube channel. Also, they allow user customization which we find very convenient. Last but not least you can see quality in every detail - that’s what we like. The one thing which may bother someone is pricing. It’s $14,99 for one user only and there are no team packages.
Minimalistic tool with simple and transparent interface. I find it one of the most beautifully crafted tools I had opportunity to test, however it’s features are limited. At first, number of components is poor. There are no ready solutions like input search or drop down menu. The second thing is color palette has only white, black, grey tones and orange. The third issue is a user can’t upload images to a mockup. When it comes to pricing, TRIO plan seems to be a reasonable offer.
Moqups.com ticks all the boxes if it comes to functionality. It’s not of the same quality as UX Pin but still, it’s design is user friendly. What differentiates moqups.com among other tools is pricing. It’s not number of users that influence monthly cost but number of projects. 10 projects and unlimited collaborants for $9 make it the best choice when it comes to money.
The tool is missing some important features like responsive design support. Also, you can’t upload any images. Component library isn’t very rich although you’ll find there basic solutions essential in mockups creation. When it comes to pricing, you’ll find out that as at moqups.com pricing is based on number of projects, although for pretty the same offer gomockingbirds charge $20 (twice as much as moqups.com).
Quite advanced tool that ticks all the boxes. What is more it has in its offer wide variety of mockups: web - Bootstrap ui, Facebook app, mobile web; mobile - iPhone app, Android app, iPad app, Windows phone. Also, you can choose skins from the list of: Drupa, Wordpress or Joomla. After you chose above options Mockflow provides us with components styled according to devices and apps we picked. Mockflow offers reasonable pricing for software teams and businesses: 3 Designer Licenses, Admin level & Unlimited Co-Editors, 75 GB of Cloud Storage and all the features for $39 per month.
If you’re determined not to pay or maybe forced to choose free version you should try Wireframe.cc basic plan, Lumzy, draw.io, Mocknow and Framebox. They have limited features but still they make it easy to communicate with a team and they offer basic mockup tools.
To sum up…
Online paid plans are for demanding team work purposes as they offer full packages, almost no limitations. Personally, I’d recommend UX Pin as in price to value ratio I find it the most efficient tool. When it comes to free offers on the top of my list is Wireframe.cc because of simplicity. Also, it’s intuitive to use even for a casual user. Don’t forget this list was made for the companies’ online collaboration purposes. Freelancers should have a look at those tools from a bit different angle. I’m sure they’ll find an offer that suits them better the above ones. If you’re still having second thoughts - use a trial (some of them last 30 days!). It’s the best way to learn which tool works for you best. Also, ask about discounts even if there’s no such info on a website. Sellers always take care of their customers :)