The Top Prototyping Tools You Need & the Advantages of Using Them

Being an experienced designer, you naturally know what you’re doing. What you don’t always know, however, is how your design is going to turn out, until you see it in action. This, quite frankly, is a little on the late side.

You need to know what works and what doesn’t well before you’re ready to hand your design over to a developer. Prototypes show you what’s working. Besides, they are an excellent vehicle for getting feedback from project stakeholders.

Proto.io

Prototyping Tool Proto.io

There’s no need to base reviews and feedback on static designs when you can use interactive techniques to bring them to life. That’s what prototypes will do for you; and that’s what Proto.io can do for you as well.

Although prototyping is primarily a design process, developers and product managers also make good use of prototypes. Low-fidelity prototyping is used to provide product managers with an early look at design concepts. Developers benefit from information embeddedin interactive high-fidelity prototypes, which are also used for user testing and design buy-off. With Proto.io, you can easily build both types – and everything in between.

You don’t require coding or special design skills to use Proto.io. You can start with a simple wireframe or low-fi model, and familiarize yourself with this tool as your prototype evolves along with your design.

This tool’s many features include version control to keep track of design changes and prototype iterations, collaboration support including single-click sharing, and recording swipes and clicks and capturing user feedback on video while user tests are being conducted.

Design Systems by UXPin

Prototyping Tool Design Systems by UXPin

UXPin is more than a prototyping tool – it’s a full-stack UX design platform. That means you can prototype, create a design system, collaborate, and generate documentation for developer handoffs in one place.

UXPin’s true strength is it gives everyone a standard toolkit for your design and development process. Once you’ve created your design system with UXPin or Sketch assets, all the documentation for elements will follow along in your projects. Combined with automatic specs, style guides, and automatic CSS, the handoff process is smooth and comprehensive. Designers and developers know the design principles, UI patterns, interactions, and implementation rules for each project.

Since UXPin also integrates with Sketch, Photoshop, Jira, and Slack, the prototyping workflow is pretty simple. Import files from Photoshop or Sketch, prototype any layer, then copy the prototype into a Jira issue or automatically push notifications to Slack.

There’s plenty of prototyping tools out there, but UXPin is the only tool we’ve come across that also solves the much larger issues of workflow, design consistency, and developer communication.

Fluid UI

Prototyping Tool Fluid UI

If you’re in the market for a user-friendly wireframing and prototyping tool, Fluid UI may be just what you need. Fluid UI was designed for a variety of users, especially designers, developers, product managers, and project managers. To satisfy everyone, it should be easy to work with – and it is.

A key feature is the use of multiple libraries, from which you can pick and choose design elements if you want to build a prototype from scratch. You also have the option of uploading your own design files, and accessing the libraries as needed to refine your design, and your prototype.

Fluid UI also make collaborating with clients, team members, or other project stakeholders easy. You can do so via interactive video or live chat, without having to leave the platform. Several packages are available. The “Free Forever” package is suggested as a starting point.

Why Prototyping is So Important

If you don’t know what you’re doing; don’t do too much of it. That’s a good advice, and that’s why prototyping is so important.

Once you make creating and using prototypes a habit, you’ll always know what you’re doing. Moreover, your clients and collaborators will know as well. You can also save a ton of time, and deliver a better product when taking advantage of what prototypes can offer.

You’ll be able to:

  1. Establish your design, refine it, and enable it to evolve throughout the design phase.
    Prototyping is most effective when you create a series of prototypes. It is better to iterate from one to the next as you progress. Doing so smoothes out your workflow. It can save you a significant amount of time while producing better results.
  2. Determine what is working according to plan, and what isn’t.
    A great design concept doesn’t automatically morph into a great design. The wheels can come off from your design at any time during the design phase. You need to constantly monitor the practicality and usability of your design.
  3. Uncover sneaky errors, as well as the more obvious ones.
    Low-fidelity prototypes often highlight major design errors. But you may not uncover smaller ones until late in the design phase.
    This is where interactive, high-fidelity prototypes and user tests come into play. Errors that are not caught are much more expensive to fix once your project is in development.
  4. More effectively communicate with stakeholders.
    If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype certainly is as well. An interactive prototype is probably worth several thousand.
    The use of prototypes can also reduce the time to conduct product reviews and design buy-offs.

Summary

A prototype offers a valuable means of showing you where you are in your design, and where you are going. Each of the products described here will serve you well.

By using them, you can dramatically speed up your design processes. You can also provide greater transparency for the benefit of your stakeholders. Besides, you can share information and collaborate with others more efficiently.

You’ll also increase your chances of delivering products that are designed error-free.

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This post has been written by the team here at Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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