Best Prototyping Tools for UX/UI Designers
Do you feel like there are so many prototyping tools on the market today that choosing the best one for your specific needs is a hassle? Are you often confused about which is the best option? If this describes you, then look no further than this list we have compiled. Before we get into the best prototyping tools, however, let us look at what they are.
Prototyping tools are used to create a model of the final product and allow end-users to test it and provide valuable feedback that can aid in the improvement of the final product. These tools make product creation more efficient and indefectible.
Okay, so what is the best tool for you? According to our UX/UI Design expert Pedro Pazmiño, “it depends on the type of prototype you are working on and the goal you are after, [as] prototyping includes a spectrum of low, mid, and high fidelity approaches.”
Now, here is our list of the best prototyping tools for UX/UI designers.
Axure RP 9
Adobe XD functions as a highly efficient UX/UI design and collaboration tool that provides designers with various features including layout and design, prototyping and animation, collaboration and handoff, design systems, and extensibility.
For many designers, Adobe XD is the go-to tool for their prototyping needs, and rightfully so, as it makes the process easier, more efficient, and more productive. The UX team at WebCreek uses Adobe XD because of its versatility in its superior performance for large, complex, and dynamic animations that add fidelity to the design, as well as the vast repository of resources from the Adobe community.
The prototyping feature gives you various perks, such as the option to:
- Use voice prototyping, which allows you to create voice-enabled features and commands, as well as audio playback for a more personalized experience
- Add animations to improve the visual experience
- Create scroll groups (carousels, menu lists, and loops)
- Add anchor links to make navigation easier
- Link to another Adobe tool — After Effects — by exporting artboards and layers to enhance animation
- Preview mobile prototypes
- Use gaming controllers and the keyboard to create interactions
- Use overlays to create layered content (dialog boxes, slide-out menus, etc.)
- Drag wires and select triggers
Figma is another powerful UX/UI design tool that gives you a variety of features including prototyping. It allows you to “prototype while you design, and vice versa” — a process that helps you make animated prototypes a reality, do concept testing earlier and more frequently, and generate a superior blueprint for development. With Figma as a prototyping tool, you can:
- Create prototypes that are very close to the final product
- Produce an interactive design that does not require coding
- Optimize design for mobile
- Connect UI features and select animations and interactions
- Define interaction types
- Implement advanced transitions by using Smart Animate
- Create multiple layers
- Use animated GIFs to represent designs, elements, and animations
- Share your prototype with other stakeholders
- Embed commenting into your prototype
This is another useful prototyping tool that caters to the development of your idea from beginning to end. Sketch helps you and your partners collaborate in real time and gives you the right tools to complete your project. It is very effective as a prototyping tool, as you can:
- Preview and playback your designs
- Go between animated interactions and artboards
- Add links and hotspots
- Create fixed elements
- Use Start Points (Start Points is a feature that lets you select the artboard your prototype starts with after you preview it)
- Share prototypes
- Reuse your favourite styles and symbols
- Invite people to view and download designs using any operating system
As the self-proclaimed “world’s most powerful screen design tool”, InVision Studio boasts a variety of features to revolutionize your screen designs and cater to low and high-fidelity prototyping, both of which you can do in a very short time.
Over the years, InVision Studio has built quite a reputation and has become one of the most reliable tools for quick and efficient prototyping. With InVision Studio, you can:
- Link screens
- Create links
- Choose triggers
- Choose preset transitions
- Do motion transitions
- Use animation tools to create unique visual effects
- Share prototypes
- Use the convenient vector-drawing tool
- Reuse various components such as symbols and styles across the site
Axure RP 9
If you are a designer who is looking for that extra “oomph” out of your prototyping tools, look no further. Axure RP 9 is a unique and effective tool for UX/UI designers that combines both wireframing and prototyping. More importantly, you can create designs without the need for coding, which makes it that much easier to manage.
Axure RP 9 provides all the tools you need to create an interactive, visually stunning, and easy-to-use prototype. It gives designers like you a wide range of convenient features that are guaranteed to make your design process practically seamless. For example:
- A ready environment and canvas that allow you to switch between light and dark mode, show dimensions, negative regions, etc.
- A prototype player
- A variety of shapes and drawings
- Image editing options
- Interactive panels
- Extensive libraries
- Improved interaction
- A selection of text formatting options
- An assortment of colors and styles
- Adaptive views
- A comprehensive documentation and note-taking tool
This is another tool that allows you to design prototypes without the need for coding. With Framer, you can create responsive and interactive prototypes that are very close to the finished product quickly and easily. Although you do not need to be an expert coder, you do need to have some basic knowledge of CSS and HTML.
One of the major perks of Framer is that there are many tutorial videos that show you how to perform certain tasks. Framer claims to be an “all-in-one tool”, and it is because there is also a wireframing tool and you can even carry out user testing. Other perks of using Framer are that you get access to:
- Framer packages that host thousands of additional resources
- Collaborative design tools
- UX/UI design tools
- Prototyping tools including desktop prototyping
- A variety of animations, transitions, and Smart Components options
- Useful handoff code
- UI kits
- The Framer application for Mac users
Origami Studio was a tool originally built for Facebook designers. Luckily for other designers, Facebook decided to share this tool and it is completely free to download and use. It gives designers a ready canvas with freeform drawing tools, visual elements, and text editing. Layouts are dynamic and easy to edit.
Although there are limitations when it comes to collaboration and sharing, one of the main bonus features of using Origami Studio is that it is compatible with Sketch and Figma. This compatibility allows you to share vector text layers and shapes that are editable into Origami Studio. This is a very convenient option for many designers who use both Sketch and Figma. Additionally, you can:
- Use Origami Live to share and preview prototypes
- Record and edit a video of your prototype
- Use native hardware APIs
- Create prototypes for website and mobile applications
- Change visual designs to written code
- Use pre-installed patches
One of the most impressive things about Webflow is that it gives you the opportunity to design a prototype while building a website. Your first two projects are free and then you have to select a payment plan to continue using its services.
Webflow can be somewhat challenging to navigate for inexperienced users. However, once you get into the rhythm, things become much easier. Some of the highlights of this prototyping tool include:
- Pre-written code — so you do not have to write it
- A responsive web design
- A variety of web animations
- Exporting options for your prototype or code
- Video tutorials to help you as you go along
- A wide selection of templates
Justinmind is one of the lesser-known prototyping tools but it has been gathering momentum in recent years. Firstly, you can design prototypes for mobile and web applications. Secondly, there is a free version that UX/UI designers can use for unlimited projects, viewers, and screens. If your needs are more specific, there are three paid packages from which you can choose.
Justinmind also provides a variety of practical tools and features that you can use to design your ideal prototype. These include:
- A collaborative feature where people can test and review your prototype
- Clickable or full-simulation prototypes
- High-quality visual designs
- Interactive web designs
- Liquid layouts
- Advanced pinning
- A prototype viewer to view your design on different mobile operating systems
- The option to export to HTML and specifications
- Free mobile and web UI kits
Marvel is an all-in-one tool because not only does it provide prototyping capabilities but also wireframing and design. If you are not an expert coder, you are in luck because Marvel does all the coding for you.
You can also collaborate with other stakeholders to “centralise feedback and ideas.” Although you can use Marvel for free, it is limited to only one user. There are paid plans if you are looking to add more users.
So, what can you do with Marvel? Well, you can:
- Design and build interactive and realistic prototypes quickly
- Create prototypes for web and mobile applications
- Collaborate in real-time
- Experience improved design development with practically seamless handoffs
- Carry out user testing
- Present and share your prototype anywhere
- Download offline
Most prototyping tools on the market provide some level of user testing — which is the goal of most designers, and careful consideration should be given to factors such as features, pricing, performance, level of fidelity, et cetera. Therefore, designers should be open to experimenting in order to find the tool that best fits their needs.