THE 10 BEST PROTOTYPING TOOLS FOR DESIGNERS

Prototyping, an important part of the UX/UI design process, enables us to test ideas before they are completely developed, resulting in a better user experience. Designers can create a high or low-quality prototype based on their needs, allowing them to test a feature, application, or website before releasing it to the public.

Anastasiia Dyshkant

Content Marketing Manager

Prototyping, an important part of the UX/UI design process, enables us to test ideas before they are completely developed, resulting in a better user experience. Designers can create a high or low-quality prototype based on their needs, allowing them to test a feature, application, or website before releasing it to the public.

There are several ways to exhibit your design with the different prototype tools available to designers. But which is ideal for your process, team, and product? These are the 10 best prototyping tools for UX/UI designers to use while creating the optimal interactive model for their design or product idea.

Why is prototyping important?

Would you ever go into a stakeholder meeting without first gathering consumer feedback? Let's hope not. This might damage your reputation and ability to defend your design. However, conveying and justifying the value, style, and feel of your product to stakeholders prior to construction can be difficult. It is made easier by prototyping.

Prototyping can assist you with:

  • Improve the representation of your final design's intent.
  • Use user feedback to back up your design selections.
  • You may save time and money by making necessary modifications earlier rather than later in the development process.
  • Feel confident in your presentation's product-market fit.

The List of the Best Prototyping Tools

Figma

Figma is a browser-based, cloud-hosted platform that facilitates collaboration and accessibility for UX designers, developers, and anybody else on a team. If you've used Sketch previously, you'll notice that Figma has a similar feel to it, making it simple to get started with.

Web design requires consistency, and you can use Figma's flexible styles to manage the appearance of text, grids, and other components across a project. Figma's usefulness is also enhanced by a number of useful plugins, such as Autoflow for showing user flows, Fig Motion for making animations, and many others.

  • Price: Free forever with the Starter plan; $12 per editor/month with the Professional plan; $45 per editor/month with the Organization plan
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, collaboration
  • Best for: Interactive prototypes
  • System: Mac, Windows, Android & iOS apps, 

InVision Studio

With many well-designed tools, InVision user interface prototype tool allows designers to swiftly create functional prototypes and share them with others. It has a useful vector drawing tool, repeating components that may be altered sitewide, and tools for generating animations and other dynamic visual effects.

InVision also excels in collaboration and communication. Freehand allows team members to sketch, take notes, and provide comments. With Invision Spaces, team members can stay organized by creating a single source of truth for everyone working on the project. InVision also includes a useful developer handoff function that makes it easier to collaborate with dev team members.

  • Price: InVision is free for a single prototype, with paid pricing starting at $15 a month.
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, collaboration
  • Best for: Hi-fi interactive prototypes
  • System: Mac, Windows, Android & iOS app

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a vector-based prototyping system that includes tools for developing interactions, transitions, and other sorts of dynamic functionality. Scaling and resizing elements is simple since it is vector-based.

Adobe XD complements other Adobe family programs like Illustrator and Photoshop. It's convenient to be able to edit Adobe pictures, such as.psd files, directly within the program. Adobe XD includes all of the tools a designer needs, from conception through high-resolution prototypes, for UI and UX design. And they are constantly expanding the capabilities of this product with regular upgrades.

  • Price: $9.99/month as a standalone website prototype tool, or $52.99/month as part of the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, collaboration
  • Best for: Wireframes, hi-fi interactive prototypes
  • System: Mac, Windows, Android & iOS app

Framer

Framer is a design tool that allows you to quickly create interactive prototypes. Framer allows you to construct fully working prototypes, including everything from connecting pages to creating 3D effects. The Framer X Store also has hundreds of resources. Everything from live maps to UI kits and media players is at your fingertips.

  • Price: Free with up to 2 editors and 3 projects, or €19/editor per month with the Pro plan (unlimited projects)
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, user testing, collaboration
  • Best for: Hi-fi interactive prototypes
  • System: Mac, Windows, Web-based, Android & iOS app

Marvel

Marvel provides a full range of prototype tools that allow you to develop design requirements rapidly and interact with other tools via integrations. Marvel goes beyond static mockups by providing interaction, dynamic transitions, and motions to bring prototypes to life and provide a true user experience to anybody testing them. 

Another useful innovation is the handoff tool, which provides developers with all of the code and assets in their most recent iteration, allowing them to dive in and quickly create a live website. Marvel's collaborative capabilities enable everyone on a design team, no matter how dispersed they are or what stage of production they are in, to contribute notes, make revisions, and discuss ideas in real time.

  • Price: Free to create 1 project; €9/month with the Pro plan (ideal for individuals); €27/month with the Team plan (3+ users)
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, testing and handoff
  • Best for: Wireframing, hi-fi interactive prototypes
  • System: Web-based

Webflow

Webflow handles two tasks at the same time. You're developing a live website with all of the HTML, CSS, and associated JavaScript while designing and creating a strong prototype. You won't simply get a mockup; you'll get the actual thing.

Webflow allows prototyping websites of any professional-level with a simple drag-and-drop interface, a sophisticated CMS, and the ability to design intricate animations, transitions, and micro interactions.

If you want a rapid approach to create and prototype, Webflow provides you everything you need, all without learning how to code, making it one of the best UX prototyping tools whatever your skill level. Webflow also allows designers and marketers to effortlessly cooperate.

  • Price: Free starter plan. Paid plans start at $16/month billed annually
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, collaboration
  • Best for: Hi-fi interactive prototypes
  • System: Web-based

Axure RP

Axure RP combines the functionality of wireframing and prototyping in a single package, assisting businesses in improving their digital product design process. It enables designers to generate low to high quality interactive prototypes of websites and apps without the need for coding.

Along with everything you need to create graphics, interaction, and organization, Axure RP includes a full documentation tool for keeping track of notes, tasks, and other important assets organized and available to people who need to view it.

Axure RP also improves developer handoff by allowing a prototype to be published on their cloud, along with all of the code, specs, and other assets required to create it. Axure RP 9 is designed for professionals, with an emphasis on all of the complexities of creating functioning prototypes. It is ideal for designers searching for the perfect UI prototyping tool for interactive design.

  • Price: Starts at $25/month/user billed annually
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, collaboration
  • Best for: Wireframes, hi-fi interactive prototypes
  • System: Mac, Windows, web-based, Android & iOS App

Sketch

For good reason, many UX designers utilize Sketch as part of their process. Sketch, unlike many other prototyping programs, has a low learning curve; you can hop straight in and start designing.

Much of Sketch's functionality is driven by uniformity and consistency. Reusable elements may be used across the site using a smart layout feature that changes their proportions based on the material contained within them. Then there's the issue of usability. In addition to a well-designed user interface, has a plethora of shortcuts at your disposal to speed up the design process and facilitate developer handoff.

Many consider Sketch to be an industry standard for wireframes and prototyping, and its feature-rich and user-friendly interface are just a few of the reasons why designers choose it.

  • Price: $9 per editor/month with the Standard plan (for individuals and teams) 
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, collaboration
  • Best for: Interactive prototypes
  • System: Mac, Web App, Mirror App for iOS devices

Proto.io

Proto.io has been used by companies such as Showtime, Amazon, and PayPal. This web-based tool allows you to create interactive prototypes with a wide range of components – no coding necessary. Drag-and-drop UI web components, templates, icon libraries, digital assets, and audio/video integrations are available from Proto.io. You may also bring in whatever you've made in Photoshop or Sketch on your own. 

  • Price: You can start with a 15-day free trial, then upgrade to the Freelancer plan for $24/month (1 user) or the Startup plan for $40/month (2 users)
  • Functionality: Collaborative high-fidelity prototyping. Also integrates with Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD and Photoshop
  • Best for: Interactive prototypes, wireframes
  • System: Web-based application

Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a tool for creating low-fidelity wireframes. While it is not primarily meant for ready prototypes, like some of the tools described above are, it is an excellent location to develop website wireframe mockups. Balsamiq is useful for more than simply creating websites. This is an excellent tool for drawing product designs, online apps, desktop software, mobile apps, and user interface wireframes.

  • Price: $9-$199/month, with discounts available for annual subscriptions
  • Functionality: Wireframing, prototyping, UI design, collaboration
  • Best for: Wireframing, mockups
  • System: Mac, Windows, Linux, Web app

How to Choose the Right Prototyping Tool?

Various prototype programs provide various sophisticated features and elements to help you with the design process. Given the huge amount of tools on the market, looking through each feature might be confusing. So we've compiled a list of typical factors to consider while selecting the correct tool for prototyping.

1. Consider Learning Curve

The tool's usability is determined by the learning curve. Some programs, for example, have a drag-and-drop editor, but others allow you to work on the prototype using mouse clicks and keyboard shortcuts. It may take some time to master the tool's usage, depending on the complex features and the availability of support material. Examine the feature list to determine how much time it will take to master the tool and how frequently you will use it. It will aid in narrowing the investment to utilization ratio while selecting the proper solution.

2. Scalability

Another important aspect to look for in a prototype tool is its flexibility to grow according to your needs. Is the tool exclusively for wireframing or for fully interactive prototypes? The amount of realism required may vary depending on the scale of your project and where you are in the design process.

Example:

  • If you are still in the early phases of design, you can create static prototypes to evaluate your ideas.
  • If you're nearing the end of the process and want to hand over the design to the development team, you'll need a visual prototype that can imitate the behavior of the actual product.

Many prototype tools nowadays can handle low to high-fidelity design in the same place and at a reasonable cost.

3. Pricing

Pricing of prototyping tools UX is another important issue to consider when selecting the best prototyping tool for your company. It has an impact on both your investment and your results.

Some tools are completely free, but there is a severe learning curve. Others provide subscription-based options to help you scale as your business grows. There are other quick web prototyping tools available for a one-time fee. We have given prices for each instrument in the list to assist you in making the best option.

4. Integration With Other Tools

Choose a tool that integrates seamlessly with your workspace tools. This makes it simple to import and export materials, screen layouts, develop artboards, and other features. It will also assist you in synchronizing data across all apps in order to preserve consistency. Every prototype tool has some level of integration with other tools. Examine the list of possible integration APIs to select one that meets your requirements.

5. Easy Testing & Collaboration

Prototyping and testing are essential steps in the UX design process. It assists in identifying challenges and revealing gaps in customer and designer viewpoints.

The most major benefit of testing and gathering feedback is that it helps in the development of the product layout prior to development. Without writing any code, you may change both UI/UX aspects and visualize the real product. That is why it is critical to seek for a solution that allows for feedback collection.

To collect input from team members, shareholders, and customers, the best prototype tools allow you to add comments right into the design template. You may provide a link to the prototype, and they can write comments to recommend improvements for the next iteration.

It saves time and resources because you don't have to schedule a meeting for each iteration. The prototype allows the complete team to collaborate at the same time.

To Wrap Up

The best prototyping software for you will be that which corresponds with your objectives and stage of development. Finally, rather than pushing a tool to accomplish a function it was not designed for, the best approach is to allow the design process to decide the tools you employ.

PioGroup can assist you with the full development cycle from business idea, prototyping and post-launch support and maintenance. Contact us if you want to turn your ideas into reality.

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Anastasiia Dyshkant

Content Marketing Manager

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