A Beginner’s Guide to Prototyping Tools for UX Design

Best Prototyping Tools

By Jared Rogers

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.

Prototyping Tools at General Assembly

Across General Assembly’s global campuses, we use a variety of prototyping tools in our UX courses, some chosen by instructors and some by students. Product Management students also leverage these tools when they learn to bring their wireframes and storyboards to life.

Here are several prototyping platforms our community has explored and found to be popular in the field to help you choose the one that’s best for your designs.

Sketch and InVision

Sketch and Invision

The design toolkit Sketch has become one of the more popular UI design tools, beating out industry mainstays like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator within many organizations. UX designers use Sketch to create anything from low-fidelity wireframes to high-fidelity visual interfaces. However, Sketch lacks the ability to simulate interactions such as clicks, hovering, tapping, etc., without a third-party integration, so designers looking to make their designs interactive rely on tools like InVision, a pure prototyping solution.

InVision doesn’t have drawing or type tools for creating designs — it simply sets up interactions, connects corresponding pages, and adds animated transitions to your designs. Together, InVision and Sketch let UX designers to design and build usable prototypes for testing and generating feedback. That said, InVision’s studio design app, InVision Studio, allows users to create their designs directly in the platform, which may eliminate the need for Sketch altogether.



Axure, released in 2003, has risen to popularity along with the steady demand for UX professionals. Designers looking for advanced interaction capabilities — such as custom animations and JavaScript interactions — can rely on Axure as their sole prototyping tool. One of its most discussed weaknesses, however, is that it doesn't output vectors but rather converts images to bitmaps, which can lead to blurring or pixelation during resizing. Axure is also seen as more complex in general, translating to larger time investments needed to learn the tool.



The drag-and-drop interface on Figma, a collaborative UI design tool, is what makes it a standout for new UX designers, particularly those who are unfamiliar with HTML and CSS. It includes high-fidelity drawing tools so you can craft designs that are as close to the final product as possible. Other useful features include automatic responsive designs, so all artboards adapt to the screen size, layout grids for designing orderly compositions, and reusable components that allow the user to keep design patterns consistent throughout their project.

Adobe XD

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a product created exclusively so that designers can build their prototypes in one place. The software has a handy “play” button to demo your prototype at any time. And, while it doesn’t have as many design tools as Sketch, the team at Adobe continues to add new features to XD, such as underline text, view hotspot hints, and the ability to see the prototype in full-screen mode.



Webflow was founded in 2013 as part of Y Combinator's startup accelerator program. Created as tool for designers to craft fully functional, custom websites, Webflow works well for prototyping interactive designs. Additionally, its user interface is intuitive enough for designers who know minimal HTML and CSS. The Webflow interface provides designers with more robust layout and styling options than other CMS options such as Squarespace or Wix, which are less viable for prototyping because of limited template customization.

Having all of these prototyping tools at our disposal is great news for UX designers, and at the end of the day, these are all designed to push us forward in our design process. If you find yourself getting stuck in deciding which tool is best, it’s important to go back to the end goal of your efforts and keep them in mind. You can also take comfort in knowing that tools are constantly changing — it’s exciting to watch how they all evolve.

Meet Our Expert

Jared Rogers is a User Experience Design Immersive instructor at GA’s Austin campus. His extensive UX career centers on education, tech, and media industries, with both agency and in-house design experience. Some of his notable clients include IBM, AT&T, Stanford University, and the Meredith Corporation.

“I love that UX designers’ focus is on humans. While the role of user experience designer is a technology job, we get to be the connectors between human perception and cognition and new technologies.”

Jared Rogers, UX Design Immersive instructor, General Assembly Austin