It can be extremely intimidating to any UX designer, particularly someone just starting out, to navigate the overcrowded world of design tools. There seems to be a tool for everything from user research to wireframing to prototyping.
So how do you know which tools to learn or least familiarize yourself with? Fear not! Below we’ve broken down some of the top industry tools for a variety of contexts and workflows. While this is not a comprehensive list, it will give newbies a sense of some industry musts, while providing some further suggestions for the more seasoned designers among us.
1. Collect data via Typeform.
Research is a large component of user experience, particularly user surveys. You most likely put a ton of time and effort into crafting the perfect survey questions. You also deliberated for hours over particular questions, wording, and answer choices. However, all this effort was for nothing if no one responds to your survey. While many factors play into survey completion rates, no UX designer wants to set herself up for snap judgements off the bat. Enter, Typeform, a simple but elegant survey tool that all researchers should have in their back pocket.
Typeform is clean in its visual simplicity and captivating in it’s smooth interactions. It’s easy to use and learn, and sure to engage and delight your research participants.
2. Build wireframes in Sketch.
Sketch is quickly becoming the industry go-to visual design/high-fidelity wireframing tool. Don’t let the simplicity of the application fool you! This lightweight application is much more robust than first meets the eye. In a compact and easy to use package, Sketch gives designers an extremely powerful and flexible vector building platform.
User Experience designers are particularly drawn to the tool due to it’s ability to quickly mock up desktop and mobile app screens with easy-access art boards and shared document symbols. The application is easy to use, simple, and quick to learn. Everyone from Apple to Google to BuzzFeed have already jumped on this bandwagon.
3. Create prototypes with InVision.
For UX designers who are not comfortable prototyping in code, Invision is the next best thing. No coding skills are required and you can still show off, and even test, product design concepts. All you need is a set of wireframes that can be strung together to simulate product usage. Designers simply upload screens, designate “hot spots”, and wire static images together. The results feel real and the lift and time commitment is extremely low. As a bonus, Invision works collaboratively and provides a platform for entire teams, and even clients, to work together and share feedback.
4. Create prototypes on your phone with POP.
The POP mobile app is another extremely handy prototyping tool that is great for UX designers in very early concepting stages. This tool essentially makes your hand drawn sketches come to life, allowing you to physically interact with your paper prototype. This is amazing for quick and dirty usability testing in the earliest product stages. For the designer that likes to test early and often, POP is a phenomenal way to get feedback with very little time, energy output, or expense.
5. Build complex wireframes in Omnigraffle.
Omnigraffle is an oldie but a goodie. This application may not be as sexy on the surface as some of the tools described above, but it’s reliable and does it’s job remarkably well. If you’re looking for a wireframing tool, this is your guy.
While applications like Sketch are great, they can cause a designer to go too high-fidelity too soon. Omnigraffle comes with built-in stencils, like the Konigi set, that provide your essential boxes, icons, and menu templates. The tool is intuitive and allows you to quickly mockup simple wireframes in minutes. However, even with worthy competitors, Omnigraffle still has the flexibility to build high-fidelity wires and even provides linkable screens for rapid prototyping. It’s always worth having this app in your tool belt for a simple one-stop shop.
6. Design and prototype websites and mobile apps with Project Comet/Adobe.
Let it be known that while this tool is not on the market quite yet, it is definitely worth a mention. Reported to launch later this year, Project Comet is a new offering from Adobe and is billed as a “whole new experience in user experience design.”
From the look of the promotional materials, Project Comet seems to be more similar to competitor Sketch in it’s lightweight flexibility than to the current Adobe offerings like Illustrator. In addition to a simple design interface, it appears to contain an extremely robust prototyping component, seamlessly integrated with its art boards. The jury is still out on how this product will affect the UX landscape and integrate with current Adobe offerings, but if I were you, I’d keep a close watch on this potential game-changer.
Add UX skills to your toolkit.