15 Prototyping Tools for App Designing
‘An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.’ – Dale Carnegie
Be it household chores or nuclear research, every endeavor that seeks to succeed has one unifying factor among them – A Plan. Simple, right? Apparently not! Planning lays the foundation for you to build a true wonder and playing down its importance can land you in a world of trouble. This is why all businesses start projects with a plan of action. For instance, if a company is building a skyscraper, a blueprint is the first thing that’s made before a single drop of concrete touches the earth. Now, this is the very definition of prototyping.
There’s a popular phrase in design that goes, ‘If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a prototype is worth 1000 meetings.’ From experimenting with ideas to downright creating a new product, prototyping is the first step that sets off a chain reaction.
Read on to know more about prototyping, its benefits, importance, and the 15 best tools for efficient prototyping.
What are a Prototype and Prototyping?
A Prototype is a pre-developed model or concept built to put the idea to test. It is a physical description of a notion still in the theoretical form which aids in visualizing how the final product will turn out to be.
Prototyping is the process of translating the intangible idea of a product or concept into a tangible form. This is then tested on the intended audience in order to gauge their reaction.
Prototypes help in testing and building applications while protecting design consistency throughout its lifecycle. They are relatively crude and serve as a test run for your product.
Why is Prototyping Important?
Prototyping is essential as it helps bridge the gap between an idea or concept and reality. It enables cohesive understanding among the designers involved in the project. With the help of a prototype, the stakeholders or users can see what the end product would look like.
Another important benefit of prototyping is spotting designing mistakes. The designers rectify any mistakes which can only be spotted in a real-world model. It is a cost-effective method and saves up a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Benefits of Prototyping
It minimizes risk by spotting any errors and hurdles that may come in place after the actual launch.
Improves user feedback and their involvement in project development. This also makes the users believe they are important to the company.
Enhances internal team collaboration and improves understanding.
Provides functionality and interactions
15 Best Prototyping Tools for UX UI Designers
A cloud-based tool, Figma comes with the support of a browser and native app that you can use to build a prototype and collaborate. It has simple usability and gives you value for money. With Figma, the designer does not have to be a coding expert to correlate to the design.
In addition, it is easily shareable and provides real-time feedback. It also seamlessly collaborates with the cloud, making it stand out among other prototyping tools.
The sketch is among the most preferred prototyping tool in the industry nowadays. Because of its vector-based technology, it is super convenient to adapt to changes like size, layout, and style. Along with being fast and efficient, working on it is pretty easy because of the simple user interface.
You can also repeat elements easily, such as buttons and bars, by just copy-pasting them. The transitioning between the screens can also be achieved without any great effort. All these factors make up Sketch a reliable and industry-standard prototype tool.
We all know Adobe and its league of amazing products. Well, Adobe XD has maintained similar standards in the prototyping industry. It is an all-in-one tool through which you can design wireframes and prototypes. You can also design websites, games, voice interfaces, mobile apps, etc. You can seamlessly integrate it with the other products of Adobe which is an advantage.
With the easy integration, the files can be easily imported from illustrator or Photoshop without any trouble. The tool comes with a lot of great features. It lets the designer view the design on the actual device in real-time with the added feature to comment. You can easily switch the design to the prototype mode, share it with the team members, get feedback and make changes.
The most commonly used tool which has acclaimed the position is known to be as InVision. It is a robust tool that many famous companies are using for their apps. Moreover, it gets updated frequently, which improves its effectiveness.
Using animations to the static images, you can make clickable prototypes with InVision. The tool has a drag-drop feature which can be used on all images. You can get real-time feedback on the prototype and can seamlessly arrange the design list into a different category of their process.
The two important aspects of prototyping are collaboration and easy communication. InVision makes it possible without any hindrances, which makes it popular in the market.
Proto.io is another famous prototyping tool. It helps to create interactive prototypes with a variety of tools to choose from. The drag and drop UI lets you develop prototypes without even typing a single code.
It also has native iOS and Android apps which lets you view your prototype in the most realistic manner. A lot of online reviews favour Proto.io quoting ‘many other vendors excel in one area, proto.io excels in all.’
You get aid in building the prototype in Proto.io with the help of many templates, libraries, etc. You can also easily import files from other tools such as Sketch, Photoshop, etc.
How about creating mockups on paper in a digital format? Sounds interesting, right? Balsamic Mockups does the same and lets you create prototypes with ease and speed on digital paper.
The fundamental interaction supported by Balsamic Mockups creates a low fidelity prototype with a feel of a high fidelity one. It is a must use tool if you are a beginner as it has a minimal learning curve. It also has a library with over 500 already made items that can be used with the drag and drop feature. In addition, you can easily make rough sketches and simple wireframes making it an effective tool for many UX designers.
An ideal tool that helps in focusing on great user experience, JustInMind can create anything from wireframes to prototypes of high fidelity. The best part is whether you are a beginner or a highly skilled designer, you can use this tool to make prototypes. Moreover, it accompanies detailed videos and tutorials on how to use it.
Comes equipped with many templates and UI libraries. It can be integrated with the counter tools such as Adobe, Sketch etc. Even a person without any coding knowledge can work on JustInMind, and it even has the advantage of working offline.
Origami Studio is the creation of Facebook, which is a powerful tool for developing sophisticated prototypes. The premade components aid in the quick creation of prototypes using Origami Studio. There is a feature as Origami Live through which live mockups can be previewed in real-time on mobile devices. Importing is easily done from Sketch, and the designs can be transformed as required.
Imagine being able to develop a prototype while, at the same time, creating a live website? Sounds interesting, right! With WebFlow, you can do just that.
When you are all set with a high-fidelity prototype, you are just another click away from turning that prototype into a production-ready website. The designers are an advantage while using WebFlow as they do not need the help of a developer for exporting the prototype.
It lets you create interactions, animations, and web designs and focus on user experience. Its simple and effective designing techniques have grabbed the spot of some of the most used prototyping tools.
Axure is another great functionality tool for professionals which lets you create prototypes efficiently. It is rich in features and provides effectiveness to developers also because they can share it through the cloud. Out of the many great features, some of the best ones are sorting based on data, supporting the conditional logical statement and dynamically enhanced content for hover functions, etc. Moreover, with the help of its comprehensive documentation, the teams can easily collaborate and organize.
Another one of the best prototyping tools for creating interactive designs. With Framer, you can build completely functional prototypes pretty fast. With the additional advantage of the Framer X store, which has many useful resources, designing a UI prototype feels like a child’s play with responsive layouts and a realistic prototype being its highlight.
The stunning design of Framer has a backup of coding, which provides a seamless and efficient workflow process. It comes with documentation and tutorials to help you get started. In addition, its flexibility to adapt to changes and powerful UI makes it a widely used prototyping tool.
A feature-rich prototyping tool that is free, easy, and works efficiently. Marvel lets you create not only prototypes but wireframes and designs specifications also. You can easily add synergy to static mockups and transitions too to make an interface that looks realistic. Because of its minimal learning curve, the tool is easy to grasp even for low-skilled designers or beginners.
A library full of many pre-built components, designs, images, and templates greatly adds to the prototype creation process. Marvel is a widely used prototyping tool by many big companies with many features and an easy working interface.
A prototyping tool specializes in building high-quality prototypes. The application is very similar to Sketch and enables screen connections, alignment, and other features such as real-time previews, etc. collaborations are not allowed in this program, but offline work makes up for the drawback. Its focus on motion and creativity renders it one of the best prototype tools.
If you love doing work at lightning speed, then this tool is the best for you. Fluid UI enables prototyping in both web and mobile interfaces. Its easy-to-use procedure and readymade libraries make it a favorite amongst beginners. Various people can collaborate at the same time and also link together for interaction. Prototyping with Fluid UI is effortless.
Mockplus is an all-in-one application. It enables collaboration, prototyping, and code handoff not to take the pain of switching apps. From planning apps to prototyping stories, creating interactions, designing, and animations, everything falls in the same place. People who are front-end developers can get snippets in swift. XML etc., one of the most popular features of Mockplus remains that it enables plugins of Sketch, photoshop, firmer, etc. if required.
Mockplus also works as a management board across all the platforms â€“ from storyboard to design review. In addition, Mockplus has made a comprehensive and detailed kit here for prototyping and collaboration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What questions can a prototype answer?
Ans. The following queries can be resolved with a prototype:
- What is the problem stated, and what solution does it give?
- How do the users solve the problems?
- How have the previous solutions failed?
- Do users understand the purpose for which the prototype is made?
Q2. What are the basic steps of the prototyping process?
Ans. It involves four steps:
- Identification of basic requirements
- Development of initial prototype
- User review
- Revising and enhancing the prototype
Q3. What is the minimum amount of time a prototype should be tested?
Ans. The prototype should be tested at least 3-5 times before finalizing. This will give you enough information and data to make any changes required.
Q4. How do I make a product prototype?
Ans. Here are the four steps of making a product prototype:
- First, you have to create a rough sketch on paper and pen down whatever your idea of a product is.
- Develop a virtual prototype with the help of software.
- The next step is to build a physical prototype.
- Now find a manufacturer after doing all the tests of the prototype and make it for real.
Every prototype tool comes with its own set of advantages, specialties, and limits. Therefore, a decision should be made by weighing the merits of each and subsequently choosing one that’s the best fit.
This article has outlined some of the best prototyping tools on the basis of low and high fidelity as well as the proficiency level required to make use of them.
Now for the big question: which one is the best? Alas, there is no distinctive answer for that.
Rather than looking for an absolute â€˜best’ tool, look for one that offers the most relevant solutions for your endeavor and helps you realize your goals. The one that checks the highest number of boxes with this criteria is the ideal prototype tool for you.
If we have missed something, feel free to comment down below or let us know what you think about this article!
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