UI and UX are two distinct aspects of web design, but yet they work hand-in-hand, while UI focuses on designing the interface and how a user interacts with it while UX highlights the users experience while they use the product or service.
While the UI tools give designers what they need to design proper wireframes, mockups, prototypes and render them minimally viable products. They outline the nuts and bolts of a design, and while communicating its functionality.
While UX tools focus on the user and how they will encounter the content, with these tools it can help structure the information architecture, as well as how someone will move through the experience. Since this is more conceptual, the UX tools are about helping a designer paint the broader picture of how content and organisation will affect the experience.
Today’s post I will be taking a look at some UI and UX tools that you may find handy for your design process. Some of these tools features can work in both UX or UI. The first 7 tools are great for UI design, while 8-12 are for UX.
Craft is a plugin from InVision, which works right alongside what you might already be doing in Photoshop or Sketch, this plugin comes with a sync function that keeps you updated on what you are working on.
Beside this time-saving feature in Craft it offers everything you need for prototyping and collaboration; and the changes in styling, edits and other tweaks are updated across the board so everyone is referring to and working on the same version of a project.
What sets Craft apart from other UI design tools is its placeholder content, you gain access to both Getty and iStock photos which lets you fill your layout with better visuals. Furthermore if there’s data in your layout, you can use your own or bring it in from other sources. You’ll will notice that not many UI design tools let you fill your mockups with more of your own content. This special feature is what separate Craft from the rest and it gives your mockups more authentic representation of what a final design might look like.
2. Framer X
Framer X has developed from its early days as a code only prototyping application as today it offers a host of various UI tools for building functional prototypes and testing for usability. With its ability to work with React, which makes it an ideal option for UI designers who like to stay on top of the most current web design innovations.
Framer X additionally offers a variety of plugins within its store, giving UI designers features like UI kits for integrating social media channels, players for embedding a whole variety of media, grids and extra useful components that can be easily integrated.
Price: Starting $12.00 per month
The Figma app lets designers build dynamic prototypes and mockups, test them for usability while syncing up all of it in the building progress. Figma also allows multiple people to work on or view a project at the same time, letting you see who has it open for real-time collaboration while you will see who is working and what they are doing with it.
Plus it’s also browser-based which makes it accessible to everyone in an instant, and as an added bonus, it’s free for individual use so you can check it out and get familiar with how it works
Price: Free to $45.00 per month
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Sketch and there quite a few great reasons why it’s one of the best design tools that’s so adored.
Being able to make universal changes whether it’s through its library of symbols, layer styles or text styles, or it is smooth resizing and alignment features which save designers time to deliver consistent prototypes. It takes out what’s tedious and lets designers jump in and create and with a abundance of third-party plugins that integrate without problems, there’s no lack of tools out there that can be used with Sketch.
5. Adobe XD
Adobe XD offers a vector-based tools for creating prototypes and mockups with an interface that is familiar to anyone who had used Adobe products, This, along with real-time collaboration, makes it a go-to for many UI designers.
Adobe XD has many exceptional tools for UI designers. Still, it’s also stocked with what designers need to use to whip up interactions and other dynamic elements that can be integrated into design prototypes or mockups. Adobe XD is one of those rare design platforms that can combine different disciplines.
Whether you’ve been a UI designer for a while or if you’re stepping into the role, Marvel’s design platform which makes things easy.
And the ability to create both low fidelity and hi-fidelity wireframes, interactive prototypes and it lets you do user testing, which gives a UI designer everything they need all wrapped into an interface. Marvel has a feature called Handoff that provides developers with all the HTML code and CSS styles they need to start building.
Price: Free to $12.00+ per month
Origami Studio was built by and for Facebook designers, this app packs in more complexity than you find in InVison or Sketch, which are a bit easier for beginners to design in. Those who needs a more advanced prototyping tool as a part of their design system, Origami Studio has a more to offer.
With this platform it has the tools you need to build complete prototypes that are powered by a sophisticated patch editor which gives designers the opportunity to integrate advanced functionality and with prototypes they ends up looking and working like a real app or web-page.
Plus Origami Studio also integrates well with Sketch so if you’re working in parallel with Sketch, it lets you brings in layers and copy and paste them directly without any hang-ups.
VisualSitemaps specialises in generating, visual sitemaps. It is pleasant to have a tool designed specifically for this.
With this tool, it has complete automation and the capacity to go through password-protected sites that haven’t launch live yet and the ability to import into Sketch. VisualSitemaps takes the process of creating visual sitemaps and supercharges it for UX designers, developers and anyone else who needs to be connected with the process of creating them.
Price: Free to $19.00+ per month
Wireframe.cc keeps their wireframing tools concentrated on minimalism. Purposely limiting the colour palette and using simple rectangular elements, along with an uncomplicated interface it lets UX designers form a low fidelity wireframe in a snap. There is even an in-browser demo you can use to see how it works.
Where there are so many tools out there trying to combine both UI and UX together into one platform, FlowMapp devotes itself to the discipline of UX design. Building user flows and constructing visual sitemaps are necessary for UX and these are the pillars of FlowMapp’s UX design app.
Price: Free to $153.00+ per year
The Balsamiq tool makes it easy to create low fidelity wireframes. People with no experience in building wireframing can jump in and put together one that look good. Balsamiq incorporates both UI and UX, but it stands out with its low fidelity wireframes. Balsamiq’s nod to the physicality of whiteboarding which makes the tool accessible to anyone, no matter their skill level.
Price: $90.00+ per year
12. Optimal Workshop
Optimal Workshop has all you need to analyse usability, figure out information architecture, test and evaluate a design.
Optimal Workshop identifies itself in giving insights and providing in-depth data about users and how they interact with a design. This carefully curated UX platform offers tree testing with Treejack, first-click testing with Chalkmark, online surveys and Reframer for doing qualitative research. Having these bundled together makes for a package of tools that any UX designer would find useful.
Price: $166 per month/per user which is billed annually