6 best prototyping tools for UI/UX designers

If you’re a UI/UX designer, you should pick the best prototyping tools for your design work. So, what are they? Never underestimate the importance of a prototype. In UI/UX design, a mockup is a model of a design, used for demonstration, design evaluation, promotion, teaching or other relevant purposes. Often, UI/UX mockups of apps and websites are designed, before being programmed. A mockup validates the design and ensures design changes can be easily implemented. When a mockup is infused with some functionality that can be tested, then it becomes a prototype. Prototyping and wireframes are very important in UX design.

How are design prototypes important?

Like the engineering saying goes: You can fix it now on the drafting board with an eraser or you can fix it later on the construction site with a sledgehammer. This holds true as an analogy for UI/UX designers as well. For example, it’s much easier to change the shape of an app button in a design mockup than to do so when it’s already been coded. Whether you want to explain your vision or visualize a website/app, prototypes are absolutely important.

Imagine being a freelance web developer, and a client wants a website. Sure, the client will give you a description of what is wanted. But these descriptions may be misunderstood, and you could code a website with unrequited features. Then, comes the hassle. there will be an array of emails, meeting or phone conversations to reach their final design. All these problems can be avoided if you use mockup and prototyping tools. You can easily whip up a quick prototype in 30 minutes, which will save you 30 hours’ worth of time. Plus, website, app and product mockups and prototypes help the final product gets produced faster, as these provide a point of reference.

To add, prototyping tools allow designers and clients to collaborate with each other. Instead of having conflicting perspectives, they can now be in the same context while collaborating easily. There is therefore effective teamwork and understanding among team members. Find below the 6 best prototyping tools and websites for designers, especially UI/UX designers. Hopefully, you find this list useful.

What are the best prototyping tools for UI/UX designers?

 

1. Adobe Experience Design (Adobe XD)

Adobe XD Ui/UX prototype
Adobe XD UI/UX prototype

Pricing:

  • Free

Platforms:

  • OS X
  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS

Create prototypes for:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Adobe is popular among designers for its more well-known products Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. A lot of designers consider Adobe XD as one of the best prototyping tools. Many UI/UX designers are more familiar with Adobe XD, which permits you to draw, reuse and modify screen layouts, software/website prototypes, wireframes and other mockups. Other features include integration with Photoshop and After Effects, easy addition of transitions and interaction, importation of files from other Adobe products and real-time viewing of designs.

With this prototyping tool, designers can easily share and present their projects to team members, stakeholders, and others. All these characters will test your design before production, allowing easy changes. With Adobe XD, viewers can comment on prototypes and wireframes within the software. Adobe Experience Design also makes it easy to switch from design to prototype mode and back.

2. InVision

Invision UI/UX prototype

Pricing:

  • Single project — Free
  • 3 projects (starter) — $15/month
  • Unlimited Projects (Professional) — $25/month

Platform:

  • Web

Create prototypes for:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

InVision is one of the web’s most prototyping tools for a reason. The InVision Studio team is constantly adding brand new features to make them stand out against the competition while helping designers prototype their ideas easily. InVision has a project management page that permits to arrange design components into an efficient workflow.

Some more features of InVision include drag-and-drop, adding animations to static graphics, multiple file types, and integration with other software like Slack, Tello, and DropBox.  Needless to say, InVision has simplified the collaboration between designers and developers, fostering effective teamwork. This tool also has provided presentation tools, letting users have meetings and present designs to others.

3. Figma

Pricing:

  • 2 editors and 3 projects (starter) — Free
  • Unlimited projects (Professional) — $12/month
  • Unlimited Projects plus more(Organization) — $45/month

Platform:

  • Web

Create prototypes for:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Figma has risen in popularity over the years, for good reason. Figma helps you create prototypes that are very similar to the real experience. Designers can easily turn their static design files into interactive experiences without any coding knowledge or use. Simply connect user interface elements and select interactions/animations. There is also a Smart Animate feature that animates similar objects.

Figma also integrates mobile interactions such as scrolling and desktop interactions like hovering and clicking.  Other powerful features provided by Figma are; observation of test subjects in research sessions, interaction with live prototypes in Dropbox, creation of presentation slides and integration with third-party prototyping tools.

Figma is very powerful as an all-in-one design and prototype tool for all your design and prototyping needs! Say goodbye to jumping between tools, simply toggle between design and prototype mode with Figma. Prototypes are sharable and viewable at every corner of the internet. To add, people can comment on a prototype. Needless to say, Figma is perfect for design collaboration and presentation.

4. Atomic

Pricing:

  • Free — 1 prototype (30 days)
  • $19 — Unlimited prototypes (1 user)
  • $99 — Unlimited prototypes (10 users)

Platform:

  • Web

Create prototypes for:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Atomic is a Google Chrome web tool for designing awesome prototypes. Because Atomic lacks a desktop application and is not available for other browsers such as Firefox and Safar, its widespread use is limited. Despite this, the few users of Atomic can attest to its versatility.

This prototyping program lets you control and fine-tune your designs and their interactions. It provides a play button that lets you view your design changes and animations in action. That’s not all. Atomic, just like most of the tools on this list provides an efficient shared prototype feature, easing collaboration. One of the strongest features of Atomic, with outshines other software, is its history feature. With this, you can view previous designs and create new versions from points of your choosing.

5. Webflow

Pricing:

  • 2 Unhosted projects — Free
  • Personal — $16/month
  • Pro — $35/month

Platform:

  • Web

Create prototypes for:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Webflow is mostly meant for web developers, web designers and anyone interested in building websites. That being said, you may decide to use Webflow for mobile app prototype development too. Webflow offers the possibility of creating beautiful and functional websites without writing code. It focuses on website interactions, website transitions/animations, and responsivity. Webflow is therefore ideal for website prototype development, although designs can only be built and published using a visual-based UI.

When prototyping websites, Webflow lets you easily turn it into a production-ready site. Many designers work with Webflow because it lets one export a prototype without the need for coding skills. Even so, those with HTML, CSS and JavaScript skills can integrate this into Webflow. Just like WordPress, Webflow provides a lot of design templates to choose from. Webflow counts among the best prototyping tools for web prototypes.

6. Framer

Pricing:

  • Free Trial (14 days)
  • $15/month

Platforms:

  • OS X
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows 10 Mobile

Create prototypes for:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web

Many UI/UX designers out there use Framer, making it one of the best prototyping tools. Framer lets you prototype anything, aiding in the creation of lovely and unique designs. Unlike other tools, Framer has a coherent workflow, while also permitting version control, design sharing and previewing on devices. Thankfully, Framer also has easy-to-follow documentation, if you have trouble understanding how to use it. Being a popular mockup tool, a lot of Framer tutorial videos are available on sites like Youtube and Udemy. Framer provides support for Sketch, Figma, and Photoshop while preserving the initial designer’s layers.

 

Those are the 6 best prototyping tools that made our list? Did we miss any tool which deserves to be on this list? Let us know in the comment section.

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