UX Tools: The 14 Best UX Design Tools on the Market
One of the keys to building great user experiences is carefully choosing your UX tools for your design process. Over the last few years, a great many UX tools emerged to help UX designers build great products from scratch.
This article provides a survey of the best UX prototyping tools, UX wireframing tools, collaboration tools, and user testing tools to help you create products your customers enjoy using.
UX Tools for Designing and Prototyping
UX design prototyping tools are used by product teams to create both early prototypes of your products and more advanced, high-fidelity prototypes with micro-interactions. Later those prototypes are transferred to front-end developers who start developing the product.
Years ago UI and UX designers used Photoshop and Illustrator to create mockups of their user interfaces, but these days you have a much larger number of tools to choose from.
Let’s talk about the most popular UX tools designers are using to build preliminary UI screens and prototypes.
Framer is a prototyping and design tool available only on Mac systems. It's a component-based design tool that allows you to create designs by assembling UI-components such as buttons, menus, and text on the same canvas.
Those components can be saved for multiple uses and dynamically updated if, for example, you need to update every component of that type in your design at once.
A distinct feature of Framer is that it supports React components, so you can code components in React and then export them directly to the canvas.
Framer X also has a built-in store where you can download UI kits and use them to create your designs.
Adobe XD is a free design and prototyping tool available for both Windows and macOS systems. It was released just a few years ago but has already gained some popularity within the design community.
If you have experience working with other Adobe products like Photoshop, you'll be surprised. Adobe XD's UI is different from standard Adobe layouts.
However, Adobe XD is part of a huge Adobe ecosystem of plugins and extensions, so you can significantly expand its capabilities by installing new extensions. Such extensions include icon generators, text generators, and element swappers, to name a few.
Figma is an online UI design, real-time collaboration tool with a heavy focus on bringing team members together to work on designs in real-time. Figma works only in a browser, and it's a powerful tool with many instruments that allow you to build designs and prototypes from scratch.
Figma focuses mostly on low-fidelity prototypes, and if you want to add complex micro-interactions to your designs, you should use extended tools like ProtoPie. If designers need to extend Figma standard functionality, they can use its growing collection of plugins.
InVision Studio is a UI prototyping tool that is absolutely free. It has all the features of the above tools and more. You can use InVision Studio on Mac or PC, and to get access, you only need to create an InVision account.
InVision Studio allows you to test your screens on mobile devices, which can help you when it's time to perform user testing for your mobile apps. User testing is an integral part of the modern design process, and with Teston you can test mobile apps, web apps, and even design drafts and business concepts.
Lastly, InVision Studio offers a step-by-step onboarding tutorial. The tutorial lessens the learning curve for the app's unique UI.
Flinto's strongest feature is its micro-interactions and transitions. Its advanced animation features — like ease-in, scrolling effects, and 3D rotation — allow UX professionals to create complex interaction designs for web and mobile applications. If you need to create highly interactive prototypes to test with users, Flinto is a great choice.
UX Tools for Wireframing
Wireframes are fundamental UX deliverables. They serve UX designers during the design process and help them to plan out product design early in development. Below are the most popular UX wireframing tools that designers use.
Axure RP is a complex wireframing tool with a steep learning curve. You need to learn how to use math expressions and logical sequences before you can utilize its full potential. If you're ready for that, Axure is available as a desktop application.
Recently the 9th version of Axure RP was released, updating it's user interface and adding new collaboration and handoff features to make it more on par with modern tools from Adobe and InVision.
Axure RP's main focus is to help designers create complex wireframes and prototypes with its built-in mathematical expressions and interactions.
You can use Axure RP as a prototyping tool as well, but its rich library of pre-built, standard UI elements helps create complex screens and wireframes in no time, which makes it a great tool for sketching out product concepts.
Balsamiq is strictly a wireframing tool, and its main focus is to help designers build sketches and wireframes for their products. Its UI is simple, and all the basic graphic elements are rough, which helps designers to not focus on visuals, but on the key UI elements and their layout.
Balsamiq is an easy-to-master tool, which is why it's also great for anyone just starting in UX design. UX researchers often use rough sketches of digital products for their user testing sessions. Rough sketches allow you to start testing designs early in the design process.
You can even test raw sketches of your UI, and the Teston platform will help you design meaningful test tasks as well as recruit end users to ensure that you get the most out of your user testing sessions.
Although Justinmind is a UI screen building and prototyping tool, its library of built-in, drag-and-drop UI elements make it a great tool for fast prototyping and wireframing.
Justinmind's focus is primarily on building web and mobile prototypes. With both desktop and mobile interactions available, designers can quickly build interactive prototypes and wireframes for both mobile and desktop apps.
Other useful features include responsive layouts, resizable UI components, and pinning that allows UI elements to save their position during resizing.
UX Tools for Collaboration
Collaboration is one of the most important aspects of a high-performing product team. Often the difference between good products and great products lies in how well design team members can collaborate with each other and with developers.
Below are the useful UX tools that design teams use to collaborate on their work.
Slack is one of the most popular team messengers. It allows teams to chat, exchange files, and make voice calls with screen sharing.
What makes Slack so powerful is the ability to install hundreds of extensions and the integrations with other popular project management services like Trello and Jira, tools that are often used for team project management.
Dropbox is a service that allows teams to store and exchange files with each other. It has a simple UI and makes it easy to exchange project and design files with team members.
Zeplin is a design hand-off tool that allows designers to collaborate with front-end developers and send them designs. It's especially valuable when designers work with UI designing and prototyping tools that don't have built-in hand-off functionality.
Trello is a project management tool that is essentially a board where team members create, move, and edit tasks.
It’s based on a Kanban project management methodology where team members create and move tasks along predefined columns, e.g. “To Do”, “In The Process”, and “Done”.
This online tool enables real-time collaboration between team members who can edit their tasks at the same time.
UX Tools for User Testing
There are many user research platforms and testing tools available online that let you perform user testing with prototypes. However, all those platforms can be divided into two main types of testing: quantitative user research and qualitative user research.
Heatmaps and A/B tests are an example of quantitative research methods, while remote user testing is a qualitative research method.
Below are user testing tools you can use to gain insights into how people use your products and what you can do to make your products better.
Optimizely is a quantitative user research tool that allows you to A/B test your landing pages, prototypes, and pretty much anything else.
A/B testing is usually performed with two slightly different versions of a product to know exactly how small changes affect key user experience characteristics such as conversion rates and usability.
In order to get reliable data, you need to perform A/B tests with a large number of test participants. Make sure the page or prototype you’re testing with Optimizely has enough traffic to provide this number of participants.
In order to get deep insights into how people are using your products, you can perform user testing with a small number of participants.
Participants, or testers, go through a series of predefined tasks that they perform with your product. These predefined tasks allow you to see exactly how people interact with your product and what they struggle with the most.
The quality of such tests often depends on two main factors: how well-designed the tests tasks are and how well testers represent your target audience.
Teston, a remote unmoderated user testing platform, solves both these problems for you. Its wide network of testing users allows you to recruit users based on your own criteria, such as gender, age, occupation, and more.
At the same time, Teston ensures you get the most out of your user research by providing you with testing templates you can use and adapt to your own product.
How to Choose Your UX Tools
With so many different tools to choose from, it’s your time to pick those you’ll end up working with. Try choosing those you’re most comfortable with. However, keep in mind which tools your team members use in order to collaborate with them more effectively.
Every designer eventually gets to choose their own set of tools they are most productive with, and every tool in this article can easily become a part of that list.
No matter which tools you use, the ultimate goal is to create great products that your users enjoy. And there’s no better way to keep yourself on the right track than to test your ideas and designs with real users.
With Teston, you can recruit the most relevant target audience to test your designs. You’ll get to understand how people use your products, what they like, and what can be improved. Then you can go out there and make your products better. So start testing!