Building an app or website without wireframes isn’t just difficult – it’s downright impossible.
Wireframes play a vital role in designing and developing new software, functioning as outlines for developers to follow as they build new systems and features. A wireframe documents how information is organized, specifying the positions and functionalities of key design elements.
All kinds of tech teams use wireframes. For designers, wireframes represent a quick, easy way to mock up new designs and exchange ideas. Marketing professionals use wireframes to design new landing pages. And developers use wireframes in a wide variety of ways, from mapping customer journeys to clarifying the unique elements they need to code.
Wireframes are a near-universally used design tool, but without the right approach, they don’t reduce confusion – they add to it. Failing to adopt the right tools can make collaborating on wireframes impossible. Relying on the wrong platform can lead to design consistency, team alignment, and more challenges.
Without the right online tool for wireframing, it can be all too easy for project progress to stall. Teams can become disorganized, missing important deadlines and falling behind. Fortunately, with a purpose-built online wireframing tool, things don’t have to be this way.
Meet Cacoo: a powerful, easy-to-use wireframing tool
Cacoo is an online diagramming tool for wireframing that makes it easy for technical teams to collaborate in real time. It’s a purpose-built solution addresses many challenges teams face during the design and development process.
Tens of thousands of teams around the world use Cacoo to design, share, and collaborate on wireframes every day. They value the comprehensive selection of features the platform offers, including:
- Real-time collaboration and commenting: Multiple users can work together on wireframes at the same time. Users can see each other’s cursors, exchange comments and messages, and even hop on a video call, all without leaving Cacoo.
- Rich library of templates and shapes: Cacoo comes with a selection of pre-built wireframe templates, plus a shape library that has many wireframing elements, including icons, shapes, and buttons.
- Seamless integration with other Nulab products and popular tools: Cacoo integrates effortlessly with Nulab’s other tool, Backlog. Plus, users can easily integrate Cacoo with apps, including Slack, Google Docs, and Adobe Creative Cloud.
- Version history and revision control: Understand which team members made changes to wireframes and view previous versions to understand how designs have evolved over time.
- Export and share options: Cacoo wireframes can be exported in various formats. Alternatively, teams can invite collaborators to view their Cacoo projects or use Cacoo’s presentation mode to share their wireframes.
- Cloud-based and secure: With secure, cloud-based storage, your designs are both safe and accessible when you work in Cacoo.
These features, plus others we’ll explore throughout this guide, help technical teams unlock new efficiencies, streamlining workflows and resulting in better project outcomes.
We’ll walk you through a step-by-step process of creating wireframes in Cacoo, exploring key features, and sharing our favorite tips and tricks. We’ll also examine how Cacoo stacks up against other popular online tools for wireframing so that you can pick the best platform for your team’s unique needs.
How to create online wireframes in Cacoo
It’s easy to get started creating online wireframes in Cacoo. The platform is simple to use, with a variety of pre-built resources and an intuitive user experience that’s easy for new users to learn.
Below, we will share an overview of the key processes you need to understand to create masterful wireframes in Cacoo. We’ll cover the wireframing process from start to finish. If you like, follow along by signing up for a free Cacoo account.
Step one: Creating a new diagram
Preparing to create a wireframe often starts with a blank screen and your imagination. For some projects, starting from scratch is undeniably the right approach. But most of the time, using a customizable wireframe template makes more sense.
Cacoo gives you the option to do both: start from scratch or use a template. To create a new wireframe from the ground up, click + Create diagram on the Cacoo dashboard.
If you’d prefer a template, you’ll love the variety of options Cacoo offers. To select one, click the Template icon on the Cacoo dashboard. Navigate to the Diagramming & Modeling category to view Cacoo’s wireframing templates and pick the one best suited to your project, whether that’s a website wireframe template or an iOS wireframe template.
Step 2: Add, edit, and arrange shapes and text
By adding, editing, and arranging shapes, icons, and text, you can start tailoring the wireframe to the specifications of your project. At this stage, keep your wireframe low-fidelity – there’s no need to include visuals, and you don’t have to write out all the text your final product will consist of.
Every Cacoo template has a series of built-in shapes, icons, and elements. To add these to your wireframe, simply drag and drop them onto your design. If you don’t see the exact element you need, explore Cacoo’s shape library.
To access the shape library, click the Shape icon in the left-hand toolbar, then select More Shapes. There are various categories to choose from, but you’ll have the most success in the Wireframes category. Additional elements can be found by clicking Icons in the left-hand toolbar.
Step 3: Use layers, groups, and alignment tools
Keeping your wireframes organized is important, particularly if you’re collaborating on them with multiple team members. This can be accomplished by using Cacoo’s layering, grouping, and alignment tools.
To manage the layering of elements, select an element, click the Stack Order icon, and choose where you’d like to layer the element. You can move elements forward or back one layer at a time or send them all the way to the front or back layer.
To group elements, drag your cursor over the elements you’d like to group, click the … icon to open up more options, then select Group.
Cacoo’s alignment tools automatically appear as you move elements around your wireframe. Use these tools to ensure elements that need to be aligned are in exactly the right place on your diagram.
Step 4: Apply styles, colors, and fonts
Wireframes are visual representations of your digital products and should reflect your branding. While there’s no need to go overboard creating high-fidelity designs, simply adding your brand’s colors and font can make your wireframes much more realistic.
Every element of your Cacoo wireframe can be customized. Select an element, click the Fill icon, and select your preferred color. You can add a custom hex color by clicking the Show More icon.
Fonts can be changed similarly. Just select the text you’d like to change, then open the Font menu and choose your preferred option. You can also change the font size, color, and style in this toolbar.
Looking for examples of how you can bring your wireframes to life? Check out these wireframe examples.
Step 5: Add links and notes
When you collaborate on wireframes with other team members, it’s important to include additional information that helps them understand certain aspects of your design. You might, for example, add a hyperlink to a button that shows where you’d like users to go when they click it. Or perhaps you’d like to add a note indicating the reason behind a certain design choice.
These points of communication are vital for helping teams work together more effectively on wireframes, and in Cacoo, they’re easy to add.
To add a link, simply select an element, click the Hyperlink icon, then enter the URL you’d like the element to link to.
To add a sticky note, click the Sticky Note icon in the left toolbar, enter your note, and then move it to the relevant position on your wireframe.
Step 6: Import images and SVG files
If you have existing assets you’d like to incorporate into your wireframes, it’s easy to upload them to Cacoo. Examples might include specific images you’d like to use on your website or an SVG file of a vital graphic you need to have in your mobile app wireframe.
To import these files, click the Import icon on the left-hand toolbar. Cacoo allows you to import files from a wide variety of sources, from your own desktop to a variety of cloud storage providers.
Best practices for creating effective wireframes
Even with a tool like Cacoo, creating effective wireframes can be a challenging task. You’re designing new products and experiences from the ground up, and as any designer or developer will tell you, that’s never easy. But by following the best practices outlined here, you’ll be well on your way to success:
- Define the scope and purpose of the wireframe: Understanding the audience for your wireframe and how they’ll use it is key to your success.
- Use a grid system and consistent spacing: Wireframes should never be over-crowded. Keep everything organized with a grid system and plenty of white space.
- Use low-fidelity colors and fonts: Creating a more basic wireframe helps you convey important design ideas without the distraction of eye-catching colors and fonts.
- Use placeholders and labels for content: There’s no need to include every word of content – instead, use placeholder text and labels to summarize key points.
- Use annotations and legends for clarity: Annotating important elements and including a legend showing the meaning behind different icons and shapes ensures everyone can understand the wireframe.
To learn more about the practice of wireframing, check out our comprehensive Wireframe guide.
How Cacoo compares to other popular tools for wireframing
There are plenty of online tools for wireframing out there. We believe Cacoo is right up there with the best of them, providing an affordable option that doesn’t compromise on features.
But at the same time, we know it’s not the right option for everyone. It’s not in our interests to mislead you about how Cacoo compares to other solutions – if we do that, you might try us out, but you’ll soon grow frustrated. So, instead, we’ll lay out the facts and share quotes and reviews from independent sites so you can make an informed decision.
Cacoo vs. Sketch Comparison
Both Cacoo and Sketch are known as intuitive platforms that are easy for new users to learn.
Sketch has slightly more sophisticated design tools for creating high-fidelity wireframes and supports a broader range of export formats. However, Cacoo’s integrations to major productivity tools make it easier for teams to adjust their workflow. Cacoo also represents a more affordable option, at $6 per user per month, compared to $12/user/month for Sketch.
Overall Capterra Ratings:
“Designing wireframes with Cacoo is very easy. Learning curve is almost zero.”
– Lloyd K, Marketing Director
“Sketch is great for designing amazing prototypes. However, it lacks advanced components for wireframing and design mockups.”
– Houyamne A, UI Designer
Cacoo vs. Figma Comparison
Figma is widely used in design circles, offering various sophisticated tools in a web-based app.
Users value these advanced features, but note that these can make Figma difficult for new users to learn. Cacoo, on the other hand, is renowned for its ease of use for all users, though it lacks some of Figma’s most powerful design features. This makes Cacoo an excellent fit for cross-functional teams.
Overall Capterra Ratings:
“Cacoo is easy and powerful. The wireframe models are easy to create and very easy to modify or change as needed. Other software is confusing and time-consuming.”
– Mack J, Software Developer
“We use Figma to create wireframes and prototype layouts for web, mobile, and desktop applications. Its advanced features have a steep learning curve, which may hinder accessibility for non-advanced level designers.”
– Côme D, UX Engineering Analyst
Note: Adobe is currently in the process of acquiring Figma. As a result, Adobe XD, Adobe’s version of Figma, is no longer available as a standalone product and can only be accessed as part of Adobe Creative Cloud.
Cacoo vs. Balsamiq
Balsamiq is a purpose-built tool for low-fidelity wireframing that, like Cacoo, is designed to be easy for anyone to use. While Balsamiq offers strong wireframing features, it lacks the collaboration tools offered by Cacoo. There’s no live chat or video calling, and integrations with other tools are limited.
While Cacoo offers a free plan and prices starting from $6/mo, Balsamiq’s entry-level plan is $9/mo and only allows users to work on two projects. After that, there’s a steep price increase to $49/mo.
Overall Capterra Ratings:
“I found myself oftentimes just needing to throw together a simple wireframe. Cacoo allowed me to use the full product (with a couple of exceptions) right away.”
– Ian Z, Product Manager
“It’s easy to come up with fast wireframes for team collaboration and client previews. Balsamiq’s learning curve is short. However, I found that it is only good for basic wireframing. More complex UX elements are not readily found in the library, and there are no third parties that Balsamiq can partner with”
– Brian K, UX Designer
Online wireframing tool comparison table
|Pricing||Free Plan Paid Plans: $6/mo +||No Free PlanPaid Plans: $12/mo +||Free PlanPaid Plans: $15/mo +||No Free Plan$9/mo +|
|Integrations||14 popular apps, including Microsoft and Google Apps.||Mostly niche design tools, including prototyping and collaboration tools.||Integrates with a variety of prototyping, development, and collaboration tools.||Only integrates with Confluence, Jira, and Slack.|
|Collaboration Tools||Live cursor view, in-app chat, video calling, comments, sticky notes, revision history, and more.||Comments, sharing, live cursor view, and user management features.||Live cursor view, user management, revision history, comments, and more.||Supports multiple users, permission levels, and comments.|
|Exports||PNG, SVG, PDF, PS, PPT||PNG, JPEG, TIFF, WebP, SVG, PDF, EPS||PNG, JPEG, SVG, PDF||PDF, PNG|
As you evaluate the different online tools for wireframing, consider the needs of your team and weigh the functionality, usability, flexibility, and affordability of the various tools. Some tools, including Cacoo, offer a free plan to try the platform and determine whether it’s a good fit.
Create your first online wireframe in Cacoo today
It’s no stretch to say that wireframing is a fundamental element of software development. The practice helps teams quickly create design ideas, gather feedback, and work toward building a product that creates memorable user experiences. But all of this is only possible with the right tools.
Why not give Cacoo’s online wireframing tool a try for free? Get started now – you’ll have the foundation for your first wireframe ready to go in just a few minutes!