14 UX Design Tools For Easy Prototyping By James Tredwell on December 16, 2020 Testing the product is a wise habit of organizations before the launch. The same is the application of using prototyping tools that offer a design the ability to test run the design before deployment. A prototype can save you from uncountable (or unproductive would be a more relevant word, here) meetings. Because you can present your vision and get approval from the client with a prototype design on the go. To suggest to you the best prototyping tools in 2020, we’ve compiled this handy list to pick the right platform. Come, let us introduce you to the FREE prototyping tools that can create as many mock designs as you want to get the faster approval and start with confidence. Prototyping Tool Usage: If it’s your initial days as a designer (and you don’t know much about UX) then you must start from the very basics. So…why would any designer opt for a prototyping tool? Primarily, a prototyping tool is used for creating a structure (or you can say a blueprint) of the whole design project. This basic structure provides you a roadmap to execute the whole project as the designer. Suppose, you’ve to explain the website layout and connection between each page with the index of the website. How’d you do it with words (unless you make a prototype of that website)? Having a prototype of the website would give you (and your client, too) an insightful view of how the project would look upon completion. You can incorporate (not just) images and text but you can also apply CSS effects on your design to show your client how the dropdown menus would behave. In short, you can run a trial version of your project before making it live for avoiding big blunders that are visible later when the project is accessible to the world. Prototyping Tool Selection: There are plenty of great options to make your next prototype. But how would you make the perfect selection with the right features? Follow this short, handy, list of selected parameters, and make your work easier than ever! For any prototyping tool to be selected, it must be extremely easier for a new user to understand its functionality. As a designer, you know the major (and minor) design concepts and tools so it shouldn’t be taking long you to find each tool (right when it’s needed). Second, the prototyping tool should accept the major designing software file formats. For instance, if your design is saved in PSD (from Photoshop), the prototyping tool should accept this format to make your work timesaving. Does your prototyping tool offer you different stages in terms of project complexity? From a simple social media post design to a full app layout, you need to understand the limitations of the tool before making the final selection. Start with your project needs and seek this feature in the prototyping tool that you’re considering for jotting down the blueprint of your project. Then, comes the most important selection parameter for prototyping tools, sharing ability. After you create the basic structure of your website, mobile app, or design work, how would you show it to your client? Seek the sharing format (or supported platforms) in your prospective prototyping tool before finalizing one. And one more criterion! Is it free or is there a monthly subscription to use your shortlisted prototyping tool? This is because you might be on a tight budget and paying for a paid tool might disturb your funds a little. So, always seek if the tool is free or has a price. Best Prototyping Tools (2020): Now is the perfect time for introducing you to the best prototyping tools in 2020 to make your initial steps easy and timesaving. Below, you’ll find prototyping tools that are either online, can be downloaded, are free, or have a monthly subscription. Let’s start and see what’s the best option for you! Sketch Sketch is one of the best prototyping tools that you can opt for creating storyboarding and website layout, too. The only downside here is that this platform is designed for macOS users which makes its userbase limited. Apart from that, this platform is like a heaven for designers and developers who want to test their design before uploading it to the server. You can add links to your images, create dropdowns, and more using Sketch and understand the practicality of your design. There’s a $99 one-time payment or if you’re on a budget, you can opt for a monthly $9 (per contributor) option, too. Invision Studio Invision Studio, an all-time favorite prototyping tool for creating layouts, app interface, and storyboarding on the go. Other than offering a prototyping facility, this platform has a few more design options that make the collaboration easy between teams. It offers a very clean interface that helps you understand it and master it in minutes if you’re a new user. You can use Invision Studio at $0 cost for personal projects (one project at a time) and if you’re running a team and want to collaborate, there are different paid packages. Adobe XD Sensing the growing competition in the design world, Adobe released its Adobe XD a year back. It offers more than just a designing facility and the prototyping feature is just the perfect one of all. You can test your layouts in Adobe XD and see how your menus, banners, and main content section interact with each other. Since it’s from Adobe, you can connect Photoshop and Illustrator with it and export files directly from within the software. Figma Launched in 2016, Figma created a buzz for its innovative design and animation templates. Along with offering design tools to designers, it also lets the creators run a prototyping test on their designs. It offers the real-time experience of your eCommerce website and let you know how your products would appear (along with price tags). Plus, you can customize the fonts, grids, and frames according to your preference and see how your whole design picture appears. UXpin If you’re seeking a prototyping tool that lets you see the results as you code, UXPin is the perfect option for you. Add interactive elements, create conditional expressions, and various components swiftly to see how the final result appears. The best part is that you can try it for free if you’re not sure about the tool. If you think it meets your expectations, you can buy a paid version for just $19/month. Zeplin Zeplin has earned a good name for its prototyping feature that has a clean interface and a sidebar containing all necessary tools. Simply click and drop the elements, readjust them, and remove if something feels unnecessary or rather odd in the design. Start free with 1 project limit and if you want to add your team, you can pay $10.75/month and create unlimited projects on Zeplin. Balsamiq If you feel more comfortable with drag and drop patterns while designing the prototypes then Balsamiq could be a perfect tool for you. Founded by an ex Adobe engineer, Balsamiq offers you a short but handy interface for creating website layouts and app interfaces for smartphones and tablets. It’s available for both Mac and Windows users and costs around $89 only. Proto.io In case your project involves animation and moving objects, you can use proto.io that lets you create your design flawlessly in minimum time. No-fuss no muss! Just drag and drop the elements and see them moving as you visualized them. The minimum license costs around $24/months with 5 project limits. Moqups Moqups is another smart option for design, prototype, planning, and collaborative endeavors between teams. This prototyping tool enables you to see your thoughts on screen with its powerful prototyping features having all the necessary design tools in one place. You can design sections, full website layout, or test a specific feature before uploading it to the website. Enjoy all that in just $16/month only! Adobe Illustrator If you don’t want to use an online prototyping tool, you can turn to Adobe Illustrator for testing the final design before sharing it with your client. Yes, Adobe has configured prototyping capabilities in its most powerful design software, Illustrator. And the best part is that you don’t have to pay extra for availing of these features. Just complete your design and see if it’s perfect for uploading or sharing with the development team. Affinity Designer Just like proto.io, Affinity is another great option for creating prototyping projects and run a final test before submission. In short, it’s a tool packed with multiple features to empower designers for creating better projects on the go. It works perfectly both on macOS and Windows and costs only $47/month. Adobe Photoshop Just like Illustrator, Photoshop does more than offering you design tools. Before the online prototyping tools era initiated, Photoshop was the first approach of designers to evaluate their designs. And you can still perform the prototyping tests using your Photoshop software if you’re not interested in buying a license to an online prototyping tool at the moment. Marvel Marvel has earned a devoted userbase due to its fantastic interface and the ability to draw and test forms on the go. In short, Marvel makes designing and testing easy and understandable for you and costs only $0 for single users. Canva Known for empowering non-designers, Canva is also a great platform for creating storyboarding and vertical prototyping projects. Plus, you can take help from its un-ending template list, too, that harnesses your design process. Just like Marvel, you can use Canva for free (but with limited features) and unlock the full access for $12/month. We hope this handy list would help you in picking the right one from the best prototyping tools in 2020. Comment below and let us know which ones you’ve used already (and why it’s your prime choice). This article is contributed by James Warner – an authority on custom logo design, shares his views on different aspects of graphic design world via his words.