6 of the Best UX Prototyping Tools for Product Designers in 2018

Best UX prototyping tools

Prototyping is vital to software development. It’s the means by which designers, developers, and project managers are able to communicate with one another and bring their ideas to life. Prototypes can assist with ideation, map out user flows, and communicate progress to stakeholders or clients, all without having to write a single line of code. It’s an ideal way to test out ideas and see how your users respond to them—at Tivix, we often develop multiple prototypes of a product before deciding on a winner.

Prototyping software tools make it simple to rapidly bring ideas to life, and go back to the drawing board just as quickly until we find our winning concept. If you’re designing a digital product of your own—or simply curious about what tools most software development teams are using in the process—here are some of the best prototyping tools to consider.

1. InVision

InVision is a stand-alone design presentation app. Not only does it let you create high fidelity interactive prototypes, it also lets you present them as they’d look in the final product to clients and team members on their preferred viewing device of choice. Real-time comments and to-do lists in InVision’s Live Share mode make collaboration seamless. Built by designers, InVision is the prototyping tool you want to use when you’re presenting your work to stakeholders or clients.

With the release of InVision Studio and Design System Manager, they’ve created an even more comprehensive suite of UI/UX design tools. InVision Studio has just left beta and is still in ‘early access’ mode, and while there are many outstanding bugs it could be a very promising tool based on early user feedback. Design System Manager is also an early-stage addition to the core InVision product, but it’s already proving itself as a valuable tool for creating cohesive design systems at scale.

2. Balsamiq

If there’s anything movies have taught us, it’s that you haven’t really kicked off the creative process until you’ve lived through a montage of designers and engineers scribbling across whiteboards. Balsamiq basically lets you bring the freeform, whimsical brainstorming of the whiteboard to the digital world. This tool is for those who need a clean, fast, easy to use wireframing tool for sketching concepts on the fly. Prototyping speed is Balsamiq’s biggest advantage—a slick UI and minimalist charm combine to allow you to quickly whip up wireframes for clients.

3. Axure RP

Launched in 2003, Axure RP needs no introduction. Used by 87 of the Fortune 100, the professional prototyping tool has long been known to UI/UX designers as the premium solution. From low fidelity wireframes to interactive high fidelity prototypes, Axure can do it all, provided you are able to conquer the steep learning curve. Axure is prized for its functionality — from custom animations to the ability to create functional HTML prototypes complete with CSS and JavaScript interactions.

4. Sketch

Sketch is a vector-based design tool — which means you won’t have to worry about resolution or screen densities when creating logos, layouts and other visual mockups. While Sketch does support interactions and user flows to a certain extent (with plugins), where it really shines is in how it fills the void left by powerful image editing suites like Photoshop which are less optimized for web and mobile app design.

With Sketch, you get basic image editing functionality (without all the advanced Photoshop features you don’t need) with the pixel precision and non-destructive editing perks of a vector-based design tool. This powerful feature-set bundled in an interface that supports intuitive and speedy workflows makes it an essential tool of the trade.

Note: Sketch is only available for Mac users.

5. Adobe XD

For a long time, Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) lacked an equivalent lightweight vector graphics editor like Sketch for UI/UX designers who don’t own a Mac. Fans of Adobe CC had to settle for using a combination of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks (Adobe’s old vector graphics editor which was deprecated in 2013). Adobe XD (Experience Design) is the vector-based design tool PC users were waiting for. All the perks of Sketch, plus native support for interaction design and prototyping, and seamless integration with other Adobe products.

6. Proto.io

Proto.io is a browser-based prototyping tool that specializes in animations and interactions. The platform supports a lot of design features you would expect to see in a desktop application, including gestures and mouse/touch events. An intuitive drag-and-drop UI lets you prototype complex interactions with no coding knowledge required. If you need an interactive, high fidelity prototype that can run as intended on Apple and Android mobile devices, this is the tool for you.

Choose The Right Prototyping Tool For Your Needs

From simple wireframing tools to comprehensive prototyping suites, we hope this roundup provided you with a nice sampling of the most popular UX/UI prototyping tools on the market in 2018. The best tool depends on your project requirements: do you require a fully interactive, high fidelity mockup to present to the board at the end of your next sprint? Or are you looking to fuel the ideation process with some white-board style wireframes? The best prototyping tool is the one that serves the specific needs for your project.