The beauty of user experience (UX) design is that it forces app developers to recognise and celebrate humanity’s rich diversity, by way of giving the most attention to creating intuitive user experiences and interfaces.
Many companies are recognising the benefits of investing in UX and UI design as it enables the companies to engage their users in meaningful ways.
Though there are plenty of creative ways to develop prototypes to test UX and UI designs here are the UX and UI applications that every designer needs to have in their tool box.
Marvel is the UX application that you want to use in the early stages of your UX design project for mobile or desktop applications.
Marvel’s simple application enables you to easily and quickly develop rough prototypes that you can use to show your client your concept and get their feedback at an early stage in the project.
When using Marvel I usually sketch all the wireframes of the prototype on paper, take a picture of each wireframe using my phone and upload them on to the Marvel application using the Marvel mobile application.
I’ve noticed that when clients see the prototype with hand-drawn wireframes they are more willing and more open to giving honest feedback about the prototype I’ve created.
This is especially helpful when you are dealing with clients who hesitate to give you their honest opinion. When they see hand drawn wireframes they get the sense that you haven’t invested a crazy amount of time working on the prototype so they don’t feel any pressure to sugar coat their feedback.
Marvel enables seamless collaboration between you, your team, or your clients.
For a one user working on a max of two active projects, the Marvel application is free. For unlimited projects, the cost is $14 per month, billed annually, or $16 per month, billed monthly.
Balsamiq is also great for developing quick low fidelity prototypes. The application allows you to design prototypes that look like they were hand sketched. The sketches help to give off a rough look that is useful when showing your client or team the first iteration of the prototype. As mentioned earlier the rough look helps encourage clients to give honest feedback.
When developing your prototype on Balsamiq you will have access to hundreds of icons, symbols and UI controls.
The Balsamiq prototyping app is available for a free 30 days trial or you can purchase a licence for $89.
Sketch is a much more sophisticated design application than the Marvel App. However, the cool thing is that you can download Sketch as an extension to Marvel. So that once you are ready to proceed to your next iteration you can easily hop on to Sketch work your magic and send your files to Marvel.
Sketch, similar to Adobe Illustrator, has a drawing tool component with a canvas made up of vectors instead of pixels. However, since Sketch is a user experience designing application for websites and mobile applications the graphics and frames design on Sketch will eventually be converted to pixels. The great thing about able to design a graphic with vectors is that it enables designers to be precise with their design.
Sketch provides you with the tools to create every detail of your application. From the icons to the full frame layout, Sketch is got you covered. Sketch enables designers to create with the flexibility of a vector canvas but also allows designers to preview their work in pixels to get a good sense of how the final product would look.
You could basically say Sketch is made up of a combination of elements from Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.
You can try the application by downloading the free trial version of the Sketch application or purchase a licence for $99.
JustinMind is another prototyping that provides with templates and kits of premade mockups of various kinds of menu bars, buttons and screens for both iOS and Android screens.
The JustinMind pre-installed kits are very resourceful and help designers get a head start in the development of their wireframes. Instead of spending hours re-creating menu bars, status bars, login screens and other frames JustinMind provides all of that to you at a click of a button.
All the premade buttons and bars can be customised to fit various design aesthetic themes.
I attended a webinar by JustinMind and the sense that I got from it is that the application is geared towards established institutions, like banks, who want to maintain good user experience on their applications and website but do not have a great amount of flexibility when it comes to pushing UX design boundaries due to strict and traditional corporate guidelines.
After a free 30-day trial JustinMind is available for $19 a month that is billed annually, a total of $228 per year for one user. You can also opt for a month to month subscription which would cost $29.
InVision is also a powerful tool for designing prototypes and seems to be the industry favourite when it comes to design prototyping applications. Almost all UX design job interview I’ve had I’ve been asked about my experience using InVision.
It allows for an interactive design prototyping experience. Team members or clients will be able to comment directly on your designs to give you specific feedback on your work. InVision can also be linked to accounts on Slack, DropBox, Google Drive, Basecamp, Trello and a few other project management application.
It also is well integrated with Sketch enabling designers to easily import their designs from Sketch. InVision is a great application to use when developing your later stage prototypes. The one you want to impress your client or your project manager with.
InVision allows you one free active prototype project. 3 prototypes would cost your $15 a month and unlimited subscription costs $25 a month.