A prototyping tool enables a designer to weave visuals, navigational elements, and interactions together to give a solid representation of how a design will behave and feel. It's an essential tool in any UI/UX designer's arsenal.
Prototypes are an opportunity to try things out and fine-tune the details. They’re an essential tool in communicating to stakeholders, and decision makers, how all of the elements of an idea will function together.
If you need to create a prototype website, find the right app prototyping tool, or explore UX/UI prototyping tool options, we’ve got you covered.
14 prototyping tools for UI/UX designers
Here are 14 of the best prototyping tools to help you with your own design process:
Figma is an all-in-one tool that makes collaboration and accessibility easy for UX designers, developers, and anyone else on a team with a browser-based, cloud-hosted platform. If you’ve worked with Sketch before, you’ll find that Figma has a similar feel that makes it easy to get started with.
Consistency is a priority in web design, and you can use Figma’s flexible styles to control the appearance of text, grids, and other elements across a project. And a variety of useful plugins, like Autoflow for illustrating user flows, Figmotion for creating animations, and many others, enhance Figma’s functionality.
2. InVision Studio
Released in 2011, InVision has a well-established reputation, and their dedication to rolling out new functionality and adding to their design platform makes them a favorite among many designers.
With a host of well-designed tools, InVision gives designers the power to put together functional prototypes quickly and to share them with others. It offers so many nice features, including a handy vector drawing tool, repeatable components that can be changed sitewide, and tools for creating animations and other dynamic visual effects.
Collaboration and communication are also strengths of InVision. Freehand lets team members draw, add notes, and offer feedback. Team members can stay organized with Invision Spaces, which creates a single source of truth for everyone working on the project. . InVision also has a handy developer handoff feature simplifies collaboration with the dev team members.
3. Adobe XD
Adobe XD offers a vector-based system for putting together prototypes, including tools for creating interactions, transitions, and other types of dynamic functionality. Because it’s vector based, scaling and resizing elements is no problem.
Adobe XD works well alongside other Adobe family apps like Illustrator and Photoshop. It’s nice to be able to edit Adobe images, like a .psd file, right in the application.
From UI design to UX design, Adobe XD covers all the tools a designer needs from conceptualization through high-resolution prototypes. And they’re continually adding to this product with monthly updates that expand its functionality.
Of course we’re biased on this one, but we know that you want a smoother and faster design process — so we're here to help you out.
With an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, a powerful CMS, and the capability to create advanced animations, transitions, and microinteractions, Webflow makes it possible to create any type of professional-level website.
If you want a speedy way to design and prototype, Webflow gives you what you need, all without knowing how to code, making it one of the best prototyping tools whatever your skill level. Designers and marketers can easily collaborate in Webflow as well.
You can also check out Webflow University for a wide range of tutorials on how to get started with prototyping in Webflow.
5. Axure RP
Axure RP puts the power of wireframing and prototyping all in one package, helping companies improve their digital product design process. It allows designers to create low to high resolution interactive prototypes of websites and apps, all without having to code.
Along with what you need to build the visuals, interactivity, and organization, Axure RP also offers a comprehensive documentation tool, which makes keeping track of notes, tasks, and other important assets organized and accessible to those who need to see it.
Axure RP also facilitates a better handoff to developers by letting a prototype be published on their cloud, with all of the code, specifications, and other assets they would need to build it.
Built for professionals, with attention to all of the intricacies of building functional prototypes, Axure RP 9 is for those designers looking for the right prototyping tool for interactive design.
6. Origami Studio
Origami Studio was created for Facebook designers out of necessity, then Facebook shared the free prototyping tool with the rest of the design community.
For designers who need a more advanced system, Origami Studio offers powerful prototyping tools for websites and mobile apps. Central to Origami Studio is a Patch Editor that lets you build logic, behaviors, animations, and interactions. Each patch is like a building block for your prototype that helps you iterate quickly. The library includes a lot of prebuilt options, but you’ll only need 15-20 to get started.
Origami Studio does have a bit of a learning curve, but the payoff of knowing how to use their prototyping tools and pulling off sophisticated prototypes makes it worth learning. This power, along with its compatibility in working with Sketch and Figma, makes Origami Studio an important tool for designers who want to go above and beyond standard low-fidelity prototyping.
Justinmind has been gathering momentum as a popular website and app prototyping tool. There are quite a few reasons why, from drag-and-drop functionality, the capabilities to create the simplest to most sophisticated of apps and web prototypes, and plenty of support, like videos and blogs to help you learn how to use it. Plus, Justinmind offers unlimited projects and pricing options ranging from free to enterprise level.
Justinmind comes with UI libraries and templates, as well as many other practical features. It lets you create the logic for conditional navigation, allows for user testing, facilitates design team management, and more. There’s also a number of integrations that let you use Justinmind with Sketch, Adobe Suite, Azure DevOps Server, and Jira in your workflow.
Its simple interface makes it a great starting point for a beginner UX designer but also offers enough for more advanced designers.
Many UX designers use Sketch as a part of their workflow — and for good reason. Unlike many other prototyping tools, Sketch doesn’t have much of a learning curve — you can jump right in and start creating.
Uniformity and consistency drive much of Sketch’s functionality. Reusable elements can be used sitewide with a smart layout feature that changes their dimensions depending on what content is inside of them. Then there’s the ease of use. Along with a well-designed user interface, Sketch offers a host of shortcuts at your fingertips to speed up the design process and simplify developer handoff.
Many consider Sketch an industry standard when it comes to wireframes and prototyping, and its feature-packed and user-friendly interface are just a few reasons why so many designers choose it.
9. Fluid UI
Fluid UI’s software is great for rapid prototyping thanks to it’s simple user interface. With ready-made libraries for material design, iOS, Android, wireframing, Windows, and more, Fluid UI gives you so much to get started with.
Fluid UI’s built-in libraries include more than 2,000 components to help you move quickly, but you can also create personal libraries by uploading existing graphics. And since everything is saved in the cloud, you can collaborate with others in real time. Fluid UI even has live video calling so teammates can chat and design at once.
Framer is a design tool that lets you build interactive prototypes extremely fast. With Framer, you can create completely functional prototypes — everything from linking pages together to creating 3D effects.
Framer also has thousands of resources in the Framer X Store. You have access to everything from live maps, UI kits, and media players all at your fingertips.
Do you need a rapid prototyping tool that will let you whip up apps, websites, and digital products quickly? And do it for free? Marvel gives you a complete suite of prototyping tools that allows you instantly generate design specs and connect with other tools via integrations.
Marvel lets you go beyond static mockups and offers interactivity, dynamic transitions, and gestures to bring prototypes to life and give a real user experience to anyone testing them out. Another nice addition is the handoff tool that gives developers all of the code and assets in their most current iteration to dive in and create a live website, automatically.
Marvel’s collaborative features let anyone on a design team — no matter how spread out, or whatever the stage of production — add notes, make changes, and share ideas in real time.
Showtime, Amazon, and PayPal are just a few of the big names that have used Proto.io. With a comprehensive selection of components, this web-based tool makes creating interactive prototypes possible — no code required.
Proto.io gives you a variety of drag-and-drop UI web components, templates, icon libraries, digital assets, and audio/video integrations. You can also bring in anything you have created on your own in Photoshop or Sketch.
Principle for Mac lets you create dazzling interactions and eye-catching animations, giving you prototypes that go beyond dull static representations.
With multiple artboards, a timeline-based animation builder, and the ability to import Figma design files, Principle stands out because it pays special attention to motion — whether it be for interactions, quick animations, a multi-screen app flow, or whatever your imagination can think up.
Balsamiq is a low-fidelity wireframing tool. While it's not necessarily designed specifically for ready prototypes, like some of the tools mentioned above, it is a great place to create website wireframe mockups.
Balsamiq can be used for more than just websites. This is a great option for sketching product design, web apps, desktop software, mobile apps, and user interface wireframes.
Prototyping leads to a better design process
For large-scale projects with many moving parts, prototyping is indispensable. Prototypes let you gather feedback, test usability, and tweak a design along the way.
Choose the right prototyping tool for your needs and start designing!
Related reads: 7 simple steps to the web design process