10 Best Prototyping Tools For UI And UX Designers 2018
A prototyping tool is used to give the designer an idea about the final look and function of his product. It can be also used for demonstration purpose to tell your clients what your product will offer them after its completion. In more easier words, it’s basically a model of your product but rather than it being stationary it is dynamic and it communicates and gives your client a way clearer picture than just explaining it on a cardboard or a chart paper or writing it on a whiteboard.
Prototyping tool is an essential part of designing and the more a tool is interactive, the better it is. A good interactive prototyping tool just limits your task and saves your from unnecessary verbal communication and since these tools are so important, we will discuss some of the great ones that you can use it for designing. One of them is free but others you have to buy but the good news is plenty of them are free if you just want to do one project on it but before all of that we must first focus on things we need to keep in mind before getting a prototyping tool. Remember no tool is a perfect tool it all depends on your need.
Whatever prototype you are using, make sure it’s easy and doesn’t use too fancy and complicated features that takes you months to understand and makes you frustrated enough to give up your designing product. Use a tool with features and layout that you are already accustomed too. Remember you don’t want to spend more time learning a new tool than actually working on it.
If you are new to this, you definitely need a prototyping tool that has support for teamwork. This feature helps you take regular feedback with your coworker or your client about what they like or dislike about the design. This way you will know which designs to improve which can save the trouble of disappointment by the client at the end of your product launch. Hence a great way to save time and work effectively.
Make sure your prototyping tools works on different devices like smartphones or MacBook etc. because most of the time designers may get ideas of improving their design in random places or time and since we don’t carry our laptops everywhere we go, using a tool that’s supported by smartphone can come very handy.
Besides the device type, it is also crucial to select an efficient web builder. Make sure to select the best website builder for exceptional user experience and enhanced website performance.
Fidelity could be low, medium or high depending on your requirement. Whether you need a simple prototyping tool can show app layout or you need something that can support complex and detailed interactions.
Obviously, the most important thing is cost. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars per year if your design is simple and can be done a free prototyping tool so choose wisely.
Some other things to focus will be the speed of the tool, how comfortable you are with it and how effective and time-saving is it?
Best Prototyping Tools
And since we are now aware of the things to look before getting a new prototype tool, we will look at some of the best prototyping tools that are out there.
- It is really smooth and easily learned
- Helps you make real codes for any design of your choice and not only this also tells about design challenges that can occur.
- Teamwork support- Clients can give feedback about designs
- You can add an animated transition of your choice
- The best one: Its completely free
- No tools for drawing or typing so you have to use another tool with it like Sketch.
However the company is soon going to introduce an advanced version of this tool named “InVision Studio” that will have all the tools required for the best prototype tool and results do look promising.
- Resembles Photoshop but comparatively lighter and easier.
- Can work with low to high fidelity meaning it can be used to design simple layouts or complex interactions.
- Used to design websites, icons.
- Easy adaptability to sizes and layouts.
- Price: It cost $99 with no additional monthly fees.
- Only compatible with MacBook users
- Needs various plug-ins if you are looking for more than just a simple design
- Can’t stimulate interactions like hovering, clicks etc.
Savah is an all-in-one prototyping, design collaboration and workflow platform. Savah helps teams to streamlines user feedback right on the design, transform static designs into interactive prototypes with gestures and transitions to create high-fidelity prototypes for web and mobile apps without writing a single line of code.
With a platform, we help teams to bring their app idea to live within a few minutes, enabling them to build highly engaging and personalised user experience. Savah helps teams to save up to 30% of their time and resources. without waiting to build back-end technology.
You can share these prototypes with a single click to their team/clients to get their visual feedback. No more emailing back and forth your design files. You can instead effortlessly invite your design team/clients to your projects where they can review and collaborate.
Savah allows users to either drag-and-drop files manually or upload files directly from their Sketch App, Google Drive and Dropbox. You can upload new versions and compare them visually side-by-side. Our intuitive and interactive comment interface lets users pinpoint exactly the element in each screen that they want to comment on.
Savah is a new approach that puts you in control and makes your life easier and saves you much needed time.
4. Axure RP
- Complex yet classy interactions with awesome animations
- Helps to create Master pages
- Customer journey maps
- Smooth User journey
- Difficult to learn hence take a lot of time
- Not mobile friendly. It lags on any other device than a desktop
- Conversion of image to bitmap leading to the blurring of pixels when resizing
It has a 30-day free trial then 29$/month is pro or 49/month if you register as a team.
5. Adobe XD
Now, who doesn’t know about Adobe Photoshop? Well, this company also launched Adobe Prototype called as Project Comet in March 2017 and although it’s new and still requires a lot of improvement, it is still a worthy tool for all designers.
- 2 tabs: One for Designing where you can add text and images while the other is Prototype to overlook your design and share it with others
- High fidelity prototypes can be made that means complex and more elaborate interactions
- New features: underline text, open prototype in full-screen
- Should have Adobe ID
- Its new therefore chances of bugs so you have to keep saving your draft repeatedly
- Not compatible with smartphones but can be used on Mac and Windows
Adobe’s team is continuously working to improve this design and hopefully, we will see some remarkable improvement in the design soon.
Webflow was introduced in 2013 and was significantly made for designers that aren’t totally aware of coding but have basic knowledge of HTML and CSS tags. Again, like all the other tools we discussed this one also has some good and bad points
- So many free templates that can be used for designing high fidelity prototype unlike other similar prototyping tools
- Integration of Google fonts
- Exportation of design code
- Stylish and more sophisticated layouts compared to other prototyping tools
- Good for simpler designs but not so much for complex ones
- Again, not mobile friendly. Can be used with windows and MacBook
This prototype is free for initial 2 projects and then you can pay $35/monthly for unlimited projects.
- Works on websites as well as mobile phone
- Page-based, meaning multiple screens can be added in one time with the addition of transition between them.
- Wide-ranging library with customizable UI elements that help make any model really easy.
- Files can be uploaded from DropBox
- Animation can’t be previewed live
- Adding too many interactions or running them on your phone can make it slow
- Since all the animations are saved online on the web, canceling your accounts mean a loss of all the prototypes you made. However, this problem can be addressed.
There is a 15 day free trial on this prototype tool, and then you could buy it for $29 per month or $288 per year for 5 projects.
Understood by its name, Origami is designed by Facebook and it’s a plug-in for Quartz Composer. It has several of cool features like other prototypes plus if you have an Apple Developer Account, this prototype is absolutely free.
- Mobile friendly
- Mobile prototypes can be easily previewed using Origami Live app on phone
- Active user community, providing people blogs, tutorials, and videos
- Sketch and Photoshop are included in its library
- Difficult to understand.
- Confusions on which patch to use?
- Not updated from a long time. The last version was released in November 2011.
- Integrates with Sketch perfectly
- Easy to understand, once you get hold of the coding.
- Everything that can be done in the web browser like using live data, making several unlimited projects, can be done with this tool
- An interactive preview on the right side
- Coding for everything. Animations, designs, interaction.
- It is only compatible for Mac users
They offer a free trial initially and then Pro: 15$ per month or you can get License for 159$ per year.
Balsamiq is a very simple prototyping tool and is loved by designers who love to draw a project on the whiteboard with desktop like school times. It is also good for beginners who are trying to accomplish a successful design
- Built-in Quick Add function that allows a designer to drag and drop any drafts within minutes.
- Interactive prototypes can be add
- It can be used to make the desktop as well as mobile applications.
- No colors or advanced designs
- No vibrant and exciting interactions, therefore, can’t make aesthetically rich interacting prototypes.
It has free one month trial and then the price is divided depending on the number of people and the projects i.e. A single user can do two projects for $9 per month. Similarly, two or more people have to pay $49 per month for 20 projects.
The last one in our list is Figma which is relatively a new tool and resembles a lot like Sketch. It is a great tool for people who are not familiar with HTML or CSS. It is also pretty cheap than other prototyping tools we mentioned in our list. You can also make a prototype and present it on the same platform with this tool. Some of the things we liked and disliked about this tool are as follows:
- Collaborative Design: This is one of the most extraordinary features of this tool. Which means multiple people can sit together and work on a design together. It’s a great pluralistic approach and definitely aids in creating a great design.
- Smooth and efficient work is seen with this tool
- Automatic responsive designs that make sure to have a constant design patterns throughout the project.
- Free for 3 projects initially
- Newer tool so possibility of bugs
- Not mobile friendly. Works with Mac and Windows user
As already mentioned it is free for starting three projects but even after that it’s really cheap with just $12 every month for unlimited projects. That’s definitely a great deal.
There are some other good prototyping tools that, you might want to check out if you are not satisfied with the above including: UXPin, Justinmind — Prototyping Tool for web and mobile apps, Marvellapp, Zeplin, Flinto, Pixate etc.
Prototyping tools are very useful for designers as they decrease mechanical work and save a lot of time and also money to some extent. Before selecting a prototype to make a list of things you need, how many projects you want to work on and what is your budget and then choose wisely. Overall InVision is still considered to be the best prototype available due to its unique and vast range of functions but you have to remember your requirements. Choose wisely!
Elise is an experienced web developer and blogger. She is currently working as a Web Developer. She enjoys her writing and always on the lookout for high-quality blogs to contribute.