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Best Prototyping Tools for UX/UI Designers

If you are thinking about the wonderful world of UI UX design services or you are one of the lucky ones who is already dedicated to this, then you should know that we are in the best moment to be able to transform our ideas into real designs thanks to these design tools.

Good UX/UI design is crucial when it comes to products like apps or websites. Everyone loves a user-friendly design and an attractive, smooth-running interface. In the digital space, online media usability can mean the success or failure of a website or software. Once you have an idea for an app or website, a UX designer must ensure that it is intuitive to use, runs smoothly, and follows the appropriate style guide in terms of branding, colors, logos, layout, and overall style. Functionality and aesthetics play a very important role for UX/UI designers.

Build a Prototype

With the help of software design and development tools, UX/UI designers plan and build the design and structure of a product, and for this, a fundamental step is the creation of prototypes. Once a developer has gathered all the data, information, needs and goals for a new project, he needs to build a prototype and there are several tools available to do so. For accurate and useful testing, it is important that the prototype be as close as possible to the real product and closely reflect its characteristics. With this in mind, it is essential to select the best tool for this task.

Top 5 Prototyping Tools

Sketch

Sketch is a well-known and loved UX/UI design tool. It’s easy to work with and allows you to make universal changes as well as resizing or aligning, overlaying, and changing text styles. Implementing changes like these saves designers a lot of time and ensures consistency across the product. There are also many easy-to-integrate plugins available for Sketch that expand what the tool can do. Additionally, it has a built-in option to import, edit, and inspect your own code. Sketch offers the option to share prototypes via a browser link or QR code that allows you to test the product on your phone or tablet. This is very beneficial if you need to share the prototype with another team member or coworker. It’s also a great feature for testing a live prototype during the development process.

Getting started with Sketch:

  1. Starting with the menu on the left side, we can see its “Layer panel” with the hierarchy of our layers and groups (the hierarchy is made up of Artboard/Group/ Element).
  1. Different pages in the same file (including the automatically created “ symbols page” where all your “master” symbols are organized).
  1. The menu on the right side is reserved for all the properties of both the elements and all the overrides of your symbols. This helps update your designs in a very easy way.
  1. The top bar has tools like “Data” to prototype with random data like profile photos, names, or cities (very limited). Before this new feature, we needed to use plugins like Craft .
  1. In the upper right corner, we can find the “Preview” option to preview our prototypes . The options we have for these prototypes are too simple (or not so simple if we use the Anima plugin ) but good enough to get rid of the old Invisionapp . If you want to know more about the most advanced prototyping tools, pay attention to the second part of this article.
  1. Along with the preview option, we find our Sketch Cloud , one of the most interesting features of this tool, where we can share our designs with clients or create collaborative libraries with all our symbols. This means that when we update one of them, we can change all our designs very quickly. On the other hand, in case you are wondering, we cannot use this cloud for version control, for that we will need to use external software like Abstract.
  1. As you can see from the previous points, a very good use of Sketch is the possibility of adding plugins, which can give you “superpowers”, but the bad thing about this is that they are independent of Sketch, which means that they can be removed, not updated or may cost extra money. One of the best plugins would be Zeplin (transfer tool).

CONCLUSION: Sketch is still the most used design tool because it is a really powerful tool + its plugins (superpowers). It will never let you down.

Figma

Figma is a popular cloud-based design tool. It is similar in design and functionality as Sketch, but is highly collaborative and is one of the best prototyping tools for team collaboration. Everyone from UX designers to developers can access and work on a project in Figma. With Slack integration and the option to share projects, pages, frames, and files with select coworkers, Figma is a powerful team-based UX tool. A particularly fun and easy-to-use feature is the option to click on anyone’s avatar to see their view.

Team collaboration aside, Figma is an ideal UI UX design agency  tool for web design and allows you to easily adapt the aesthetics of tables, text and grids in a product. There are also some excellent plugins available that expand the available features and allow you to build and test very specific prototypes. These include Figmotion for prototyping animations and Autoflow for visualizing user flows.

Getting started with Figma:

  1. In the left side panel, we find something similar to Sketch, where we have our layers with the hierarchy created by us (Frame/Group/Element).
  1. We have the option of adding different pages in the same file and in the case of creating components , these will appear as a list in the bottom tab, something very useful for dragging and dropping.
  1. On the right side we find the properties panel, but with added value since we have different tabs where we can also find our prototyping and coding options (transfer for developers).
  1. Multiplayer editing is one of the coolest features of Figma, where some users can work on the same file at the same time. To communicate with our clients or co-workers, we have the option to share our design or prototype file with a single link or even leave comments on them to have conversations within our designs.
  1. In the prototypes tab, we find simple prototype interactions but with a little more detail than Sketch, so we can create micro interactions such as modals, pop-ups or sidebars, something that together with the Figma mirror application is very useful for our user tests.
  1. As long as it’s a cloud-based tool , all of our designs will not only be automatically saved, but also uploaded to our unlimited cloud space, so we (or any member of our team) can access them from any computer. only with our Internet browser.
  1. With Figma, we can also use its integrations: Zeplin, Dribbble, and Avocode. We don’t have any plugins, but there is new functionality to create arrays or replace elements (stack groups) very quickly and we are sure you are going to love it.

CONCLUSION: Figma is a great tool for working as a team or sharing your projects with your clients in a fast and very effective way, but remember that to take advantage of its full potential you need to be connected to the Internet.

Framer

Framer is a powerful UX/UI prototyping tool; Please note that this tool is best suited for more experienced developers with strong coding skills. Prototypes must be built with real code in this tool and goes beyond the requirements of many other design tools. With Framer, you can create fully functional, interactive prototypes very quickly and test factors like 3D effects, link pages, and button layouts. Any product that has a strong visual focus would be well served by this tool. Framer’s Stacks feature in particular allows you to easily move and replace elements and automatically ensures that they are placed evenly on the page.

Getting started with Framer X:

  1. Starting with our layers panel , we can see an automatically created hierarchy of layers, something that as soon as we get used to, will make our lives easier. Although the design structure does not have artboards (canvas) where we can place our designs, we have frames where we can nest frames with more content and more frames inside. (Start).
  1. We do not have the option to add more pages to our archive, something that is not necessarily bad but is something that we will miss if we are used to it.
  1. In the right side menu, we find the properties panel with an interesting new category – code – where we can inspect, edit or import our own code to create code components for our design system .
  1. When it comes to unique special features , we can design using different interactive tools such as “stacks”, “scrolls” and “pages”. Another thing we really like is how easy it is to share the prototypes, either with a link in your browser or a QR code so you can mirror on your device.
  1. About prototyping , Framer is probably the most powerful tool on the market today, but only if you have coding skills or work with developers, so you’ll be able to build your prototypes with real code, not just images.
  1. Here we have bad news, at Framer we do not have any cloud services (yet).
  1. Last but not least, Framer has an in-app store where many designers or design teams upload their work so you can use them in your designs.

CONCLUSION: Framer is a really promising design and coding tool for creating very powerful prototypes and React design systems. Great tool for collaborating with developers. It may not be a tool for beginners, especially if you don’t know anything about coding.

Adobe XD

Adobe has long been one of the top players when it comes to design software, and Adobe products are a favorite of many people in creative careers. Adobe XD is ideal for anyone who is familiar with other Adobe products and uses them regularly. It provides vector-based tools that let you create and test transitions, interactions, and other dynamic features, and produce high-resolution prototypes. You can also resize and move elements easily with this tool. It is suitable for both UI designers and graphic designers, and combines several disciplines into one practical tool.

XD Tool

If you regularly work with other software in the Adobe Suite, such as PhotoShop, Lightroom, or InDesign, then XD will be one of the best prototyping tools for UX/UI designers to work with. The XD tool also receives regular updates that expand its range of functions.

Marvel

Marvel’s main advantages are a strong focus on collaboration and the option to perform real-time testing with external users. It’s a great prototyping tool for UI UX design agency working as part of a larger team, as it supports communication by allowing any co worker or employee on a design team to add comments and notes. Teammates can also make changes, all in a real-time. This highly collaborative tool allows you to build a dynamic and interactive prototype that offers a real impression of the user experience. Marvel also offers the option to have real users test your prototype. It allows you to quickly connect with testers and record and analyze their interaction with the prototype. This type of research is invaluable for many products and allows you to see how users actually interact with your prototype.

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