Types of prototyping
Prototyping, beyond any doubt, plays an indispensable role in UI/UX design. Testing your application or eCommerce website design before getting a Minimum Viable Product is becoming now even more essential. The reason is pure and simple ? you can save up on the design process and, after all, get much better user experience. Usually, prototypes can be of low (rapid/fast) or high fidelity, each of them pursuing their own goals, especially when the costs/time is an issue.
However, these design techniques can be also used together, if a project requires more detailed analysis and iteration. For instance, let?s tap into the UI design insights of renowned research and consulting firm, Nielsen Norman Group, which provides global guidance on user experience to the B2B sector. The firm has put a strong emphasis on utilizing both rapid prototyping and high-fidelity prototyping tools while refreshing the overall look of their corporate website. It means both quick sketches and comprehensive prototypes are needed during the design thinking process.
Web UI/UX Design stages: Prototype
Let?s see how prototyping looks like within the framework of the design flow.
What is rapid prototyping or high-fidelity prototypes within the entire design process? Alongside sketches, mockups, and wireframes, which feature less functional peculiarities, the former is way more complicated and rich in detail. For example, the best UI sketching tools would be not enough for creating an actionable prototype for your design project.
What an advantage can thorough or even fast prototyping give to designers? Bluntly put, it enables them to test and iterate all their ideas, to check the feasibility of a product long before its launch, and estimate the potential feedback of the end-users. Designers along with project managers can a great chance to evaluate the project efficiency, add some UX-appealing details, and if any ? get rid of awkward unnecessary features. Either way, identifying and preventing design problems on early stages is totally beneficial for all the stakeholders.
Design tips: How to choose the best prototyping tool?
When you are dead sure about implementing new design findings, this brings up the reasonable question of which tool will better suit your individual needs. Picking the right instrument is not a cakewalk as it might seem. The scope of prototyping solutions are almost limitless on the current market, however, not all of them can fulfill your website design tasks. Why is it so, you may wonder?
The rationale behind is quite clear. First, some of the best wireframe and mockup tools for your website are really brilliant in their own way, however not at all applicable for completing your prototyping assignments. Also, most customer needs and expectations for getting robust prototyping services evolve in 2019, so do the specialized software solutions. All you need to do is to choose between many tools and find the best option for fitting your business goals.
The best prototyping tools for 2019 and beyond
To help you out with the right decision on picking the most efficient prototyping tool, here comes a list of the most popular and affordable solutions you can access online today. The list, of course, is not at all final ? so you may suggest your own prototyping services below in the discussion section.
It is much more of a drawing tool, which is great for utilizing during the sketching and wireframing stages. Nevertheless, it provides you with actionable low-fidelity prototypes. It can be of assistance especially if you are new to design in general. Balsamiq lets you do the following:
- Easy view option for quick check-ups and brainstorming
- Slick UI imitating paper workflow
- Short learning curve before start using the app
- Applicable for sketching, wireframing and mockup phases
An efficient application for those, who prefer doing all the design activities via a browser (Google Chrome). However, the app offers a wide range of design solutions, its fans like using it for prototyping solely, while importing sketches and wireframes from other tools. Due to its flexibility, atomic allows you to enjoy the following:
- Sketch and other software importing feature
- Slick History slider option, enabling to backtrack all the iterations
- Great collaborative power
- Quick sharing functions
- More Pro features than a usual go-to app ever has
3. Adobe XD
The brainchild of popular Adobe Suite software production family, Adobe XD is a perfect match for designers. Here you can easily switch between Design and Prototype modes to accomplish certain current tasks for your project. The latter one enables you to perform the following:
- High-fidelity interactions
- Getting ready-to-use assets within one app
- Integration with other Adobe products, like Photoshop and After Effects
- Real-time viewing, commenting and sharing capabilities
- Smooth importing
For some seasoned designers, this app may resemble Sketch in its functionality. However, it enjoys much more innovative features. Thus, the application offers the following:
- Smooth collaboration between co-designers and other stakeholders
- Easy switching between Design and Prototype modes
- Quick sharing and getting real-time feedback
- Automated sync capabilities for all the design data
- Powerful editing features
- Intuitive import/export options
5. Framer X
Framer X, or just Framer is a powerful tool for prototyping, which however requires some advanced understanding of design processes. If so, it can provide you with lots of useful features that help you make an actionable prototype for your project. Among those are the following features:
- Interactive components with built-in functionality
- Creating master components in one click
- Reversible changes across all instances
- Smooth overview filters and settings
- React-based components
- UI options customization
Yet another popular tool for designers, which also features smooth collaboration capabilities. The app runs on the web and works well on simplifying the workflow between designers and other teams. Among the most prominent features are:
- Rich interactions and animations easily added to static images
- Compatibility with most popular graphics file formats like PNG, GIF, PSD, JPG and many others
- Smooth integration with website management and collaboration apps like Slack, Jira, Dropbox, Trello, just to name a few.
- Real-time collaboration and presentation features both for teammates and clients
This is rather an overall design platform than just a pure prototyping tool. However, it enjoys a full scope of the functions required for creating robust prototypes for your design project. UXPin can brag about the following features:
- Built-in interactions
- Custom interactions
- Slick animations
- Responsive breakpoints
- Built-in UI libraries
- CSS styling
A great example of 2019 tool that combines the functionality of both design and website management software solutions. If you are looking for something more than mere prototyping, Webflow would be the best bet for you, as it has:
- Using visual aids instead of coding
- Smooth layout building with box models, floats and flexboxes
- High precision for animations and interactions
- Rich libraries with pre-built components
This tool is mostly known for its awesome animation design capabilities, lacking however some of the end-to-end solutions like developer handoffs, collaboration, and integration options. The instrument has the following features:
- Short animations
- Slick interactions
- Multiple-screen design flow
- Artboards and timeline
- Import of various design formats
- Preset and share of favorite designs
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