Introduction to Prototyping Tools for Design
You must have wondered of having a beautiful and attractive website of your own with a major chunk of user visiting and holding on to your site. But, a promising user base cannot be achieved overnight. It collectively needs long hours of hard and smart work resulting in the final product achieved through a series of ideas, conceptualization, intense developmental processes, and trials. It involves designing and redesigning your product unless and until the required parameters are attained. Web designing is an advanced field wherein a huge number of tools are used in order to attain the desired results. However, the final design is not something that can be achieved in a jiffy. Users should have an idea of what the product is going to be like so they need some sort of trial or test sessions to understand what they can expect of the final product and this is where Prototyping is useful. Have you ever heard of this term before? Do you know what Prototyping is all about? The prototype is basically a kind of mock drill leading to the evaluation of the final product. In this article, we are learn prototyping tools.
When we talk about the prototypes we need to know this that a prototype is anything but final design. It is only a series of designs which might not be of high precision or a high fidelity. We must understand that the final product is a replica of the various prototypes which culminate into the form of the final design or the product. It sure is a hectic, energy draining and a costly affair but prototyping saves the day for it makes sure that the web designing is perfect and user-friendly designs are more in demand. Prototypes put life and colors into any web design and it also gives us the opportunity to test the feasibility and accountability of the design or the app. It also helps build up user interactive sessions at various levels. The main purpose of prototyping software is to ensure that the final product is effective and consistent. It makes sure that the final prototyping a product you are getting is up to your expectations.
There are a number of tools and techniques that help in framing prototypes. And it is at the discretion of the designer to use any of the tools for designing their website or an app. But it is usually considered better to use low fidelity prototypes rather than the high fidelity prototypes because the low fidelity prototypes take lesser time and effort. Apart from this, there are a number of deciding factors for choosing the right kind of prototyping tools. Depending upon the goal of your prototype, the range of your audience and a variety of other reasons you tend to choose to differ prototyping tools and techniques.
Top 16 Prototyping Tools for Designers
Prototyping is a design philosophy. Unless you don’t have a prototype you cannot test your product. Until you have finally built the design and tested it, which precisely means that if anything goes wrong with your final design you have to repeat the whole prototyping process of designing in case you have not used the prototype. Therefore, it is recommended that one should always make prototypes, test them from time to time and then establish a final design for your website or application.
Following are the designing tools which are more recommended based on their orientation of the results:
Axure is one of the favorites of web designers today. It is one of the most used prototyping tools for advanced prototyping projects. It is one of the fastest wireframing and prototyping generations that pays off quickly. It allows us to create Master pages, add interactions, and also use certain ready-made components from the widget library. There are also a variety of other features attributed to this tool which include adding colors, importing images, gradients and also change the transparency of each object in the design. While designing an interface it allows complete flexibility. One of the most exciting features of Axure is its ability to generate rich HTML prototypes. There is, however, one thing to it that makes it a second choice and that is it works only on Windows and not on Mac and also the prices are quite high. But, if you are a Windows user and look out for quality, you must give it a try.
Balsamiq is yet another tool for rapid prototyping famous among web designers today. It runs on Adobe AIR. It allows the designer to create quality roughs which are a considerably good feature in case you are not good at creating hand-drawn sketches. There are as many as 5oo icons to choose from the UI libraries. It also allows us to add basic interactions and also share the prototype with your team. There are also a variety of ready-made items available in the UI libraries. It lets you create low fidelity mockups. It also introduces BMML which lets us export your wireframes. There are also a variety of interactive screen elements, to begin with. If you are a designer not very good at drawing sketches, then Balsamiq is your savior.
3. Keynote and PowerPoint
These are widest used and the easiest prototype tools available in the market today. Both of these can be effectively used to create product wireframes and prototypes. Both of these are quite familiar to everyone so you don’t need the much creative ability to use these. However, both the keynote and PowerPoint require third-party extensions or templates in order to be used this way like keynotopia and powermockup. Both of these are high fidelity prototyping tools. If you are a beginner and just have basic knowledge about designing, then you must start with these tools.
Moqups is a simple and free tool in the prototyping tools which are available online. It is an HTML5 Web app. It helps us to create pages for websites and apps quickly by using various symbols, buttons, etc. It has a free version which has 31 components like graphs, icons, iPhone mockup, etc. It also provides the opportunity to work on multiple projects and share them with your team, export-ready projects to the pdf file and also create Master Pages. This is a low to medium fidelity option but it is high on interactivity as compared to other wireframing tools. What are you waiting for? Get started!
This tool was created in 2008. It is a high fidelity prototyping software add which can directly be downloaded to the computer instead of having to work online and hence you can use it offline as well apart from all tools. It has a layout similar to that of Adobe creative program but it is more simplified. It also allows us to use items from UI libraries and create Master Pages. One plus point is the ability to use add-on and the ready-made module. Justinmind is simple to use. If you have not used it, try it today.
It is an intuitive prototyping tool designed by a Polish team. It is a powerful prototyping tool. It helps to create fast and beautiful prototypes. It is a high fidelity tool. It helps create wireframes in a very simple manner. You can use a number of readymade components available in the UI libraries. It also lets you share your work with the team members and comment in real time. There are also smart guides available to measure the real distance between the elements.
Images also can be edited with this tool. The end design can be converted to pdf file also. Get your hands on this tool and make your website do wonders!
It is a free Firefox plugin which enables designers and helps them in creating wireframes and prototypes. It helps put high fidelity mockup quickly. But one needs to create the visual design elements for Pencil as it is based on dragging and dropping the pre-made graphical elements. Don’t think too much, create your mockup website today.
8. Adobe Flash
Apart from all prototyping tools Adobe flash helps to produce rapid interactive prototypes but cannot be used for wireframing. However, by using certain library objects and drawing tools producing an interactive prototype becomes easier. It is more suitable for reproducing certain in-between states which are lacking in other tools. Recently, Adobe has introduced a new tool for developers and designers. This tool is called Catalyst which has been reported to be a better tool than Axure as well. It’s a must try for designers like you.
Sketching out your ideas is by far the most cost-effective and easier option for prototyping. Although it doesn’t provide a working prototype it gives you an opportunity to visualize your ideas, work on your logic problems and all. It is a low fidelity option. Sketching is a good way to start off. Then there are sketching tools like UI Stencils which provide you with the sketching pads and stencils which help you copy the elements, icons, and buttons manually in a much easier manner.
It is also very simple and intuitive from all the prototyping tools. You need only upload your projects in either png or PSD format and then add hotspots to change them into interactive prototypes. This tool also lets you work in collaboration with your team and also entertain the comments. This tool also is cost-effective.
It lets you create prototypes for websites and mobile applications. You only need to upload your files in psd, png, jpg, or gifs or click pictures of the sketches. Here you can transform the static pictures to clickable interactive prototypes with a number of animations and gestures. This tool is available for free.
This is a really beautiful way to wireframe. In this tool, we see only a grid within the mockup style browser window. Then you begin drawing elements with the help of the mouse and then the controls appear for you to start manipulating. It is a really effective and simple way to create wireframes on the low to medium fidelity option.
It helps create clickable wireframes, mockups and interactive prototypes for websites and mobile apps. It lies between medium and high fidelity options.
It is not exactly a dedicated wireframing and prototyping app but that shouldn’t mean we cannot use it. We can expect a reduced functionality compared to Axure. It has a standard template suit and some auto-generation features. It allows you to add simple elements to a page and generates a pdf as a final output and it is available only for windows.
Developing prototypes in HTML requires skills. It helps save time and money. With the use of various jQuery plugins, most of the interfaces can be represented. And with protonates functionality too is available.
16. Ante type
It is a leader in Mac prototyping apps. It helps create responsive websites, prototyping mobile applications, and even some software. It has got templates for various devices and has 400 ready to use widgets. It provides tools to create high fidelity prototypes. There is also the feature of interacting available. Your project can also be exported as a vector or pixel based graphics and can generate CSS code.
To conclude I will say that prototyping software is very powerful. It helps you communicate the design effectively and clearly. It helps you prototyping design ideas, test them and get real-time feedback from the users. Prototyping software lets you put your ideas to real test and you see how the design is coming around. This helps you get the best possible design for your websites. It lets your imagination rest in front of you and gives it practical shape and hence makes sure your customer base touches the zenith of your expectations and beyond. What are you waiting for? Get up and get started right now! You can create wonders.
This is a guide to Prototyping Tools for Designers. Here we have discussed best 16 designing tools which are more recommended based on their orientation of the results. You may also look at the following articles –