After synthesizing user research and thoroughly uncovering problems to solve, user experience (UX) designers begin their design process by ideating on a number of solutions. This is where the creative magic happens! Designers sketch to explore many workable solutions to user problems, then narrow them down to the strongest concept. Using that concept, the next step is creating a usable prototype that can be tested for viability against both the users’ goals and business needs.
UX designers create prototypes — early models of a product built to test a concept and learn from it — to communicate and test designs for user interfaces of websites and applications. Prototypes communicate much more than static designs. They allow designers to demonstrate an interface’s functionality, flow, interaction, animations, and overall usability.
There are several digital tools available for today’s UX designers, each with different capabilities and outputs. With new options being released and older mainstays evolving on a regular basis, however, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.
There are many factors to consider when deciding on a prototyping tool. Among the most important are:
- Learnability: Not all platforms are seamless to use. How easy will it be to learn?
- Cost: How much are you willing to invest in a new, unfamiliar tool? Costs can range from free to several hundred dollars per year.
- File type and outputs: How will you export and/or demo your prototype to accommodate your current workflow?
- Project goal: What is your end goal for the project? Are you presenting high-fidelity compositions to a client? Preparing annotated, workable prototypes to hand off to a development team? Demonstrating animated interaction design concepts for your internal design review? Conducting usability tests with users? Different platforms have different strengths.