One year ago, when I started exploring the UX design process, I found the process of designing prototypes very exciting. It plays a vital role in UX designing. UX designers have to go through a lot of steps such as doing user research, customer journey mapping, etc. to build a clickable prototype centred around the user. And the collated result of every stage which UX designers carry out is reflected in the prototypes. However, before we deep-dive into applications that can help you design your prototype, let’s unpack the definition of Prototyping.
What is Prototyping?
Prototyping in the UX designing process comes in the design phase. It is a model designed to test or compare with user requirements. Teams build prototypes of different fidelity to capture design concepts and test. With prototypes, you can improve and confirm your designs to release the most favourable product.
Clickable prototyping shows a visual representation of an application, and it is capable of showcasing several stages of the application like a drop-down menu or hidden information. Clickable prototyping offers an interactive experience which is similar to a final application. Before implementing the product, clickable prototyping can help the organizations to validate the design within their target market.
Now, let’s deep dive into the most popular prototyping tools that a designer tends to use.
Best prototyping tools for UX designers
Figma is a most used prototyping tool. It is a cloud-based design tool with real-time collaborations, and it is similar to sketch in terms of features. Figma is available for macOS and Windows. In many organizations, designers use Mac while the developers use Windows, but Figma brings them both together.
Here are some of the features Figma has –
- It shows multiple ways to interact with objects.
- It gives access to many templates, design systems, wireframes as an example and board games.
- One can add dynamic animation to their prototype with customized easing curves.
- While testing the website and web apps to avoid the chaos, one can turn off the toolbar and footer for seamlessly testing the prototype they designed.
- With the help of universal search, an individual or their team can find what they are looking for in Figma.
Another popular tool for Prototyping is Adobe XD. Adobe XD is vector-based user experience tool which is compatible with both Windows and macOS. It has a lot of tools like pen tool, selection tool etc. and designing in Adobe XD is very simple. If you are well aware of using other adobe software like illustrator or photoshop then using Adobe XD will be easy for you. The advantage of XD is that everything is in vector. So, we can do both low and high-fidelity prototypes on Adobe XD.
Now let’s explore some of the features which Adobe XD provides –
- Responsive resize, an element in XD that automatically adjust and sizes objects on the artboard, allowing the users to have their content automatically tailored for different devices.
- Repeat grid helps in creating a grid of repeating items such as lists, photos etc.
- One can also design the apps using voice commands.
- Users can also create symbols to represent logos and different buttons.
- There are a lot of plugins, from animation to compatible automation.
- It also supports files which are from other software of Adobe like Illustrator, Photoshop, After effects etc.
InVision is another popular prototyping tool. Invision prototyping tools help to design mockups and turn it into interactive prototypes. One can share the mockups with their team, and the team can communicate through comments within the app. Invison gives a better experience in sharing designs.
Some of the features of Invision are –
- It has a responsive layout.
- It is a great app when it comes to team collaborations.
- It is also known for its cloud flexibility.
- It can fasten the creation of design using the vector drawing tool.
- It is super easy to sync.
Sketch is another well-known prototyping tool that is used by many designers. It is a vector graphics tool for macOS that was released on 7th September 2010 and developed by Dutch company Sketch B. V. The users can see a live preview of their designs so that they know how the model looks on the screen.
Some of the benefits of Sketch software are:
- Users can instantly preview.
- Users will be able to do non-destructive editing.
- It enables the users to further refine the designs in other application by letting them export code.
- It is an app popularly used for collaboration with the team.
- It comes with grids and guides which help the user move or place object around with precision.
Axure is one of the most versatile prototyping apps. Axure has a lot of dynamic features like conditional logic, code export, active interaction and many more. It also comes with Axure cloud wherein the user can share prototypes or artboards from other software like Adobe XD and Sketch. Axure is compatible with both Windows and macOS. Due to its capabilities in wireframing, prototyping and information architecture, a lot of designers use Axure. Developers make use of Axure for HTML prototypes. It has different prize levels: Subscription-based, which starts from $29/month for Axure Pro 9 and perpetual license starts from $495 for Axure RP 9.
JustInMind is another prototyping app known for creating high-quality work and best used to design website prototyping examples. Another big plus is that it can be downloaded on your computer for offline work anywhere. It comes with guided videos and tutorials for everyone. You can even export your prototype to make it available to display on any web browser.
Wrapping it up
There are many other tools like Origami Studio, Web-flow, Balsamiq, etc. which has its advantages and disadvantages. I intended to familiarize you with commonly used prototyping tools in the industry. In the end, I hope that you gained some valuable insights from this blog post which will ease out your task.