6 Best Prototyping Tools for UI/UX Designers in 2022

Every website you’ve visited or an app you’ve ever used was once just an idea in someone’s mind. The path from an idea to a live, working product is  long and a rough one, with countless steps and hurdles in between. One of those crucial steps is prototyping.

Before launching a product or investing time and money, it’s smart to first test out your hypotheses and see how they hold up in real life. To do this, you need a good prototyping tool, and today, we’ll show you our roundup of the very best.

But first, let’s get something important out of the way.

What is Prototyping?

Prototyping is the last stage of the design thinking concept. It’s the second phase of design where an expert product builder translates an idea from paper, well technically a wireframe(the first step) into an experimental, tangible, and usable model. In other words, it means turning abstract concepts into tangible design items (website pages, apps) that can be used and tested.

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The goal of prototyping is precisely that - to test out your ideas and validate them before progressing to the actual design stage.

The Importance of Prototyping in UI/UX Design

It may seem like prototyping is just a minor step between an idea and an actual design. However, prototypes serve not one, but many purposes.

  1. A prototype lets you challenge and test an idea quickly, without spending months of time and thousands of dollars designing a product that fails.

  2. You can collect customer feedback from a tangible design rather than an abstract idea.

  3. You get a starting point to build upon and add new ideas and features, involving all the stakeholders.

  4. You can ship a finished product more quickly because you can find out what works and what doesn’t - without making assumptions.

In short, prototyping can save you a lot of money, time, and frustration facilitating collaboration across design, product, and development. It’s no wonder that it’s an integral part of the design thinking philosophy and almost every product that you have ever used was once in a prototype stage.

If you too want to build prototypes for your product, you need to start by selecting a proper design prototyping tool.

How Do I Choose the Right Prototyping Tool?

If you’re hiring a new team of designers and UI/UX specialists, they’ll probably have their set of favorite tools they’ve used in past jobs. In collaboration with them, you can make a pretty good, educated choice. 

However, if you want to do the work yourself and get started with prototyping, you need to do some investigation before grabbing your credit card. Here’s how to make a good choice when picking your new prototyping tool.

Test It and Verify the Gradual Learning Curve

If you’re a designer yourself, it’s a good idea to give the tool a try before committing to a paid plan and handing it over to your team. You want something that’s easy to use from the start as you don’t want your development and design hampered by a tool that’s too complex.

If you’re not a designer, take the time to read through reviews on websites like G2 and Capterra. Moreover, ask around in design communities for advice based on your use case and needs.

Ability to Scale

You need a tool that can grow with your team. As your product gets more advanced, you bring in new customers and hire more people, you’ll need additional seats. The UI/UX tool should allow you to easily add new people to your team without sacrificing functionality or costing you a lot of extra money. Speaking of which…

Pricing

Good software comes at a price. Make sure to carefully review how many seats you have for the monthly price you pay. It’s also a good idea to review how much of a discount you get when paying annually. The difference sometimes makes it worth your while, but first, make sure you found the right tool before committing for a full year.

Integrations

Good tools integrate with other good tools. You want your UI/UX tool of choice to play well with the other tools you use for design, development, collaboration and project management. For example, it needs to integrate with dev tools such as GitLab, UI tools such as Pendo, communication tools such as Slack, etc. If you want the best bang for your buck, make sure you have all of your key tools covered as integrations.

10 Best Prototyping Tools for UI/UX Designers in 2022

We’ve rounded up the best prototyping tools you should consider for your design needs, sorted in no particular order. Whether you’re a solopreneur building a website in Airtable or you run an enterprise SaaS product, you’ll find something useful below.

Adobe XD

Looking for something with an enterprise feel? Adobe XD is the first and most logical choice, partially because it also owns some of the tools mentioned below. If you’re already using other Adobe products, XD is a logical choice for prototyping.

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It has all the bells and whistles necessary for visualizing your concepts. Moreover, since it’s an Adobe product, you can open Photoshop files directly in the editor, which is definitely a plus. It’s pretty easy to use and chances are that most of your team will find it effortless too.

The best part is that Adobe XD isn’t expensive at all and you can grab it for $9.99 per month. Or if you want the full Adobe suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and others), you can have all of that for $54.99 per month.

Figma

Probably one of the best-known UI/UX and overall design tools out there and for a very good reason. Given that this is a UX tool, their own UX and UI is superb. This allows designers to create spotless wireframes and prototypes and makes it easy for all other teams to collaborate on design without requiring any design knowledge whatsoever.

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Figma comes with various ready-made elements you can use in prototypes: transitions, dynamic overlays, animations, gifs, and more. Once your prototype is ready, simply share a link with your team and they can view it and add embeddable comments.

At only $12 per editor per month, Figma is an amazing value for money. However, they were recently acquired by Adobe, so it’s not certain what the future holds for this amazing app.

Sketch

If you’ve ever met someone dealing with UI and UX design, there’s a good chance they’ve used Sketch. This tool owes much of its fame to its ease of use, as anyone with an internet browser can start designing in Sketch in minutes.

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You can use it to build anything from single pages to entire user journeys, all within a single dashboard. And as they proudly state, you don’t need to use any plugins to make the tool work - as Invision does. A cool features it includes is the ability to run split tests within the app and test your designs on a variety of different devices, such as laptops and phones.

The tool costs $9 per editor per month, which is great value for money. If you need SSO and a little bit of extra help with live support, the Business plan is $20 per month.

Proto.io

Unlike most other tools on this list that make prototyping a part of their offer, Proto.io does only that. And they’re serious about it - you can use more than 1,000 different prototyping templates and 250+ UI components. No need to wonder what to include in your next design - there are more than 6,000 different design elements, including images, icons, and more.

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Your prototype can look just the way you envisioned your finished app, with elements such as screen transitions, advanced animations, and more.

The pricing isn’t as generous as other tools, as the cheapest plan starts at $24 but locks you into only five active projects. Ten projects will cost you $40 per month. It packs a great punch but for the price, there are better choices out there.

Invision

With over a decade of market presence, Invision became a household name in the field of UX design. The ease of use coupled with the ability to share designs and collaborate on them in real-time quickly made it a favorite for designers all around the globe.

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While it offers a rich repository of design elements and the ability to create vector designs with ease, these are not what set Invision apart. Within the app, you can communicate with your team members using notes or drawings and sum it all up in Invision Spaces.

Couple that up with the amazing pricing: at just $4 monthly, you get unlimited access to all of Invision’s features, making it one of the best tools you can get for the price Besides the designs and the price, it also includes numerous integrations with tools such as Coda, Figma, Asana, AdobeXD, and many, many others.

Axure RP

If you want to make your developers happy, Axure RP is the right prototyping tool for you. Besides prototyping, you can also do wireframes to get the design one step closer to implementation.

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Developers will love the documentation feature in Axure XP, which lets you create product documentation as you’re prototyping. You can use an endless combination of event triggers, actions, and conditions and have everything look just the way it should when it’s done and shipped.

At $25 per user per month, it’s a pretty good value too. When you count in the fact that you get unlimited prototypes and reviewers, it’s easy to see why this is a popular choice of designers worldwide.

Wrapping up

Prototyping is one of the most important elements of a great design and a key opportunity to make your product better, all the while saving time and money. With the help of these tools, you can launch your products faster and get the right customer input at the right time.

Speaking of which, you’ll need a reliable tool to collect customer feedback when you get to the prototyping stage. Sign up for FeedBear today and start collecting customer feedback so your prototyping starts off right! Hello world!

The Easy Solution for Customer Feedback

FeedBear makes it easy to collect ideas and feature requests, keep customers engaged by sharing a roadmap and announcing new features.

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