When it comes to UX design for mobile, digital prototyping tools have captured the mindshare of designers. Mobile app prototyping tools, in fact, not only give life to their ideas but also assists in early validation through faster iteration, and better prototyping.
In the earlier blog, we discussed how prototyping being integral to the design thinking process, involving ideation and validation, enables designers to test the best of their ideas.
Now, with several mobile app prototyping tools available, the question arises as to which is the best fit. While one may choose based on their expertise, however, a few notable ones that have emerged in recent times deserve mention.
Let’s look into the 5 most leveraged prototyping tools based on their ease-of-use and relevance.
InVision is a comprehensive prototyping software, which aids in the process of designing user interfaces. It has the ability to create live prototypes from static images as well as wireframes, which, when coupled with functional facilities of the software, can be transformed into the app prototype. This facilitates carrying out transitions such as buttons clicks and creating a layout as per the device interface, etc.
One distinct feature is its easy-to-use and simple interface, which is a great advantage. It also offers other features that allow designers to expedite the process of validating the design, thus improving productivity:
- It facilitates easy and quick integration with other design tools for more efficiency. As for example, by integrating with the Sketch tool, designers can upload the wireframes directly to InVision.
- It supports cross-platform experience. InVision enables customization of sizes and resolutions as per design of the device. This feature is beneficial in terms of responsive design and mobile adaptations.
- It enables easy control and setting project status, thereby facilitating effective project management.
- It offers the facility to create and present mood boards, brand boards, galleries, and style guides.
- InVision provides tools that facilitate virtual communication via the project account, which is a benefit for teams working remotely.
- It allows you to save the version history of designs, which can be referenced and compared when necessary.
Thus, when it comes to facilitating the process of validating design solutions and effective customer collaboration, InVision is the go-to tool, considering that the outcome is a superior user-friendly design.
Marvel is both a mobile and web-based prototyping tool that can serve both novice and advanced designers, given its simple prototyping process. Its integration with Photoshop and Sketch allows easy import of screens.
It offers the following additional features:
- It allows you to easily upload your image files even via third-party sites such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Sketch. It also supports different image types, be it PSD, JPG, and GIF.
- With Marvel, you can edit images such as changing the background color, resizing images, etc.
- Marvel provides about eight different project frames to users when building prototype(s). This ensures full optimization of the design mockup for the specific device.
- Its mobile companion app converts sketches into prototypes by simply capturing the image, which users can further sync with their marvel account. This allows them to build prototypes for the specific device(s).
- Other than its easy usability, it also serves as a knowledge hub. Its community of designers shares their prototype designs for the benefit of users. Users can also benefit via blogs, tutorials, FAQs, and videos.
While Marvel may be restricted in its functionality from the point of view of advanced designers yet for beginners, it is a go-to tool thanks to its companion app, which makes prototyping a seamless process.
3. UX Pin
UXPin is not only an interactive prototyping tool but an end-to-end design platform. It is a code-based design tool that fulfills all the UX needs by merging design and engineering, which not only results in superior user experience but in faster product design.
The following are the features of the tool:
- In UXPin, you can use the drag feature to drag elements into your project, create your prototype, and match it, similar to Sketch and Photoshop.
- UXPin enables you to create a fully functional prototype from your static wireframe by adding interactions, links, and connecting all the parts.
- Its library of pre-made components enables users to build quick prototype designs, whether the design is for an iOS or an Android platform.
- Its components enable you to create an element, which you can reuse as and when necessary. UXPin allows you to create a component, whereby the changes that are made will be replicated across all pages. This would not only save on time but would instill a steady workflow too.
- With UXPin, not only can users design from scratch, but it allows users to import Sketch or Photoshop files in case of layered prototyping. Further, it enables Slack, Jira, and GitHub integration.
All-in-all, UXPin with its capabilities such as built-in UI libraries, progressive interactions and advanced animations, CSS styling, among others, make it one of the most recommended tools.
4. Axure RP (Rapid Prototyping)
Axure RP is a wireframing and design tool meant for interactive prototypes. It allows you to create basic wireframes, from low to mid-fidelity. Here, users can make portions of a screen interactive while keeping the rest the same. It also enables users to hide or show content as per the earlier interactions. Further, the choices made by the users can also be recalled by the prototype.
Listed below are some features of Axure RP:
- In terms of widgets and design, it offers basic geometric shapes, headers, texts, and form elements.
- When it comes to interactivity and animation, Axure RP is equipped with powerful features. It supports various types of interactions such as condition interaction (for executing various operations), complex interaction (for variable functions), and gesture interaction.
- In terms of presentation and usability testing, users can test prototypes on their mobile devices using Axure Share.
- An easy-to-use tool, it combines prototypes, diagrams, and specifications.
Axure RP is one such tool that enables users to create Rapid Prototypes without writing code; and, when it comes to building quick prototypes for project planning and proof of concept (POC), Axure RP is the go-to tool.
Known to enable 4x faster prototyping in comparison to other tools, CanvasFlip’s notable features include timers displaying splash screens, setting headers and footers, layers to display messages, pop-ups, and more. With this easy-to-use tool, both novice and advanced designers stand to benefit.
Let’s look into its other notable features:
- Easy sync of artboards. Users can sync their sketch art boards directly to CanvasFlip. All you have to do is double-click on the sketch plugin, install it and log in to Sketch. Simultaneously, log in to your CanvasFlip account and sync your sketch artboards to it. Here, you can also sync specific artboards or all, as per requirement.
- Remote user testing and rapid app prototyping. With CanvasFlip, receiving prototype feedback is easy. All you have to do is send your prototype link to your users. Once they receive the link and review the prototype, CanvasFlip records the journey. This is an advantage as the designer will be able to see the recording of how the prototype was used.
- Interaction heat map option. This enables you to view the heat map of all the screens in your prototype. Here, you can also select specific screens that you wish to view. CanvasFlip allows you to analyze the conversion panel and heat map to gauge which portion of the UX screen and flow need improvement.
CanvasFlip enables you to make smarter decisions each day!
Mobile App Prototyping – The Way Forward
For UI and UX designers, using an app prototyping tool is indispensable. It enables them to test run the design of the app before they begin with the mobile app development cycle. Most importantly, it removes the common roadblocks such as late design approvals, last-minute design changes, slow or delayed feedback, to name a few. Given that, prototyping a mobile app allows designers to share the wireframe of the screen-designs in real time, therefore ensuring that experimentation, feedback, testing, and approvals are on schedule.