You shouldn’t have to create an excellent design from scratch. Most apps are the result of iterative design, a methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining. Design mockups play a significant role in regards to this methodology, allowing designers to create sample designs in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional tools.
Given the importance of mockups, it’s no wonder there’s such a large number of various mockup, wireframe, and prototyping tools. The sooner you familiarize yourself with these tools, the better the quality of your work will be. Exploring free software for design mockups is the best place to start since it provides the essential features needed for prototyping without costing you a single dollar. To save you time and energy and help you get started, we have selected some free mockup tools and written a concise description of each.
You will be hard-pressed to find a better and more versatile free mockup tool than Lumzy. This excellent piece of software has been offered completely free, and it continues to serve many professional designers from around the world. Special tokens fund the development of the project, each giving you 12 hours of popup-free access to the tool. If you don’t want to support the developers, you can still use Lumzy for free with a reminder telling you to consider giving something in return.
Lumzy understands that prototyping is about speed and efficiency, and the entire tool has been built with these principles in mind. Prototypes can be created just by dragging components onto the canvas, and Lumzy’s extensive component library almost never fails to provide you with just the right element for your website. What’s more, you can go beyond static prototypes and create rich simulations you and your customers can actively use.
Other useful features include the ability to create a master page of components and layouts, sharing support, UI skins, versioning, and project cloning, just to name a few. Together, they elevate Lumzy above other free tools, making it suitable even for demanding, professional use.
This tool has a few tricks up its sleeve that make it worth your while. Despite being entirely web-based and built with simplicity in mind, Frame Box still supports revisions, auto-saving, sharing, and even commenting. To use the tool, all you need to do is sign up with your Google+, Twitter, or Facebook account, and you’re good to go. From there, it takes just a few minutes to put together an accurate prototype of a website or app.
Whereas Frame Box and Lumzy are purpose-built tools created to help designers quickly come up with accurate prototypes for websites and apps, Pencil Project can be used for other things, including mind-mapping, diagraming, and, of course, prototyping. Being a jack-of-all trades, Pencil Project is also a master of none.
Available on all platforms, Pencil Project deserves your attention, especially if you’re developing mobile apps. The built-in shape collection has shapes for Android and iOS, as well as general-purpose shapes, flowchart elements, and desktop/web UI shapes. The tool allows you to export your creations to different file formats, making it easy to present the final version to your clients.
Which other applications do you believe should be on this list?
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