Axure VS Mockplus VS Balsamiq: Prototype Tool Comparison (The Pros and Cons)

Wireframe tool is the bridge between raw creative thoughts and the final product. When deciding how to build your next prototype, the vast landscape of modern prototyping tools can be overwhelming. It is not easy to choose a right one among them especially when you are new to this field. This comparison is a combination of fast-growing newer tools that have come on the market, and older tools that have trusted by a large number of users. Hope this resource will help UX/UI designers find a prototyping tool that works for their needs.

Axure RP

Axure RP Pro is a wireframing, rapid prototyping, documentation and specification software tool aimed at web and desktop applications. It offers drag and drop placement, resizing, and formatting of widgets. It is a robust UX prototyping tool and allows designers to create both static, low-fidelity prototypes and very advanced interactive prototypes, but it requires some time to master. The deeper you go with Axure the more you’ll unlock powerful capabilities, but keeping things simple is very important as well. If you are a professional designer, you can use Axure RP Pro to build more sophisticated, interactive prototypes.

Axure

Runs on: OS X, Windows

Prototype for: Android, iOS, Web, Desktop

Trial: 30 days

Cost: $289 Standard, $589 Pro

Pros

1. Good for prototyping complex interactions

2. Easy to share interactive prototype by generating HTML file

3. Good training and support documentation

Cons

1. Steep learning curve; complicated and not easy to use for first time users

2. No device-specific templates or features.

3. Costly

Mockplus

With a singular goal to make the complex simple, Mockplus, created by the fast-growing startup Jongde Software LLC., gradually becomes a good alternative for rapid prototyping. Mockplus is a desktop based application can be used to prototype for any mobile and web apps quickly and easily. Because of the ease of use and the clean interface, Mockplus is really a good choice for users at any level of experience. Mockplus team are working on V2.1. The new version of Mockplus will come with a set of pre-designed interaction components, such as popup menu, sliding drawer, image carousel and more. It will make build interactive prototypes as easy as a pie, for example, you are able to set scrolling between a fixed header bar and a fixed footer for mobile prototypes with simple drag. If you are looking for a tool that is cheap and allows to create interactive prototypes in a minimum of time, then you can’t go pass Mockplus.

Runs on: OS X, Windows

Prototype for: Android, iOS, Web, Desktop

Cost:

Basic — free forever

Pro

Annual=$6.5 per user/month, Month-to-Month = $10 per user/month

Pros

1. Easy to use and low learning curve. A good choice for users at any level of experience

2. Large library of elements (200) and icons(3,000) for many different devices

3. Create interactive prototypes with simple drag and drop easily.

4. Fast and intuitive to link pages with drag-and-drop

Cons

  1. Lack of support documentation.

2. No support for gesture-based interaction.

Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups is another easy-to-use wireframe tool that helps you prototype faster. It reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard, but using a computer. The handwritten design is unique which lets designer focus on the design. It allows the designer to arrange pre-built widgets using a drag-and-drop editor. The application is offered in a desktop version as well as a plug-in for Google Drive, Confluence and JIRA.

Runs on: OS X, Windows

Prototype for: Android, iOS, Web, Desktop

Trial: 30 days

Cost:

A Single User License — $89

Multi-user license — start at $178 for two users

Pros

1. Create new mockups directly from the “Create New” menu

2. Simply click to edit wireframes

3. Sketch-based wireframes allow designers to focus on functionality

Cons

1. Limited functionality

2. No options for creating interactive prototypes

3. Limited UI elements

Conclusion

Designers love tools that make their jobs simpler. Once you find a tool that makes your life easier, you’re committed for life. If you are a professional designer, I’d recommend using either Axure RP Pro or Mockplus for both static, low-fidelity prototypes and more sophisticated, interactive ones. If you prefer rapid wireframe tool and you are looking for one that is cheap, I’d recommend Mockplus as it is not as complex as Axure but robust than Balsamiq.