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. If you haven't found the right tool to suit your needs just yet, here's a comprehensive list of some of the best prototyping tools used by top designers in the industry.
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.
14 prototyping tools for UI/UX designers
Here are 14 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. And through LiveShare, a prototype can be demonstrated with full interactivity. InVision makes it easy for team members to stay connected and work together throughout the course of a project.
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 work well alongside other Adobe family apps like Illustrator and Photoshop. It’s nice to be able to edit Adobe images, like a .psd, 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.
As you may have noticed, we are Webflow. We know that you want a smoother and faster design process, and 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 9
Axure RP 9 puts the power of wireframing and prototyping all in one package. 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 9 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 9 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 who demand more from their prototyping tools.
6. Origami Studio
If you’re Facebook and your designers don’t have an app that they need, you build it for them. Origami Studio was created for Facebook designers out of necessity, and Facebook so graciously shared it with the rest of the design world.
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. It comes with many prebuilt patches, and the site says you’ll most likely use just 15–20 of these for most of your prototyping work.
Origami Studio does have a bit of a learning curve that can be daunting at first. But the payoff of knowing how to use their prototyping tools and pulling off sophisticated prototypes makes it well worth learning. This power, along with its compatibility in working with Sketch, makes Origami Studio an important tool for designers who want to go above and beyond standard prototyping.
Justinmind has been gathering momentum as a popular 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. Justinmind isn’t as huge as some of the other prototyping tools out there, but they’re certainly an up-and-comer.
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.
So many UX designers use Sketch as a part of their workflow — and for good reason.
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.
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 makes for lightning-fast prototyping. With ready-made libraries for material design, iOs, and Windows, as well as gestures, Fluid UI gives you so much to get started with. And their simple user interface makes it super easy to put these components together.
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 prototyping tool that will let you whip up apps and websites quickly? And do it for free? Marvel gives you a complete suite of prototyping tools, without skimping on functionality.
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.
ESPN, Amazon, and PayPal are just a few of the big names that have used Proto.io. With a comprehensive selection of components and tools, interactive prototypes are made possible without having to type in a single line of code.
Within its web-based editor, Proto.io gives you a variety of drag-and-drop UI web components, templates, icon libraries, and audio and video integrations. You can also bring in anything you have created on your own in Photoshop or Sketch.
With an array of templates, tools, and other components to build prototypes, Proto.io has so much to offer.
Principle 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 frames, Principle allows you to design an impressive app or web design in a short amount of time.
With an attention to motion and interactivity, Principle stands out among the other prototyping apps out there.
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. But it can be used for more than just websites. Balsamiq is great 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.
There are many tools out there to help you, starting with these 13 more widely adopted apps. What’s your favorite prototyping tool? Just let us know in the comments below!
Related reads: 7 simple steps to the web design process