Wireframing, creating prototypes and mockups is an essential part of a website design process. Most people believe that building a website takes just a few seconds, which is something that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Building a website is a much more complex task requiring several skills like UX & UI design, back-end, and front-end development.
During a website pre-build stage, communicating your ideas to your client is key to meeting their goals. Otherwise, everything may go wrong. Creating a good mockup will help you express your understanding of their vision and create the best strategy to move forward. Also, your clients will settle their thoughts and will know how the final website will look like.
Among all that are out there, finding the one platform for creating wireframes and mockups can be time-consuming. But, my hope with this article is that you save some time, because I’m going to share with you the best prototyping tools for your designs. By using one of these platforms, you can work quicker and more efficiently. So, keep on reading!
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Pricing: $12/month (free plan available)
Figma is a collaborative tool that brings your teams together to design better products. It’s packed with unique designed features you’ll love. Twitter, Slack, Github, and Dropbox are among their main customers. So, there’s no doubt you’re in good hands.
Figma offers a Starter plan, a professional plan, and a plan made for large organizations. The starter plan is completely free, but you can work on only one team project, and you’ll have 30-day version history.
The professional plan, on the other hand, costs $12 per month when billed annually. It provides you with everything from the starter plan plus unlimited version history, unlimited projects, and shareable team libraries. Among Figma’s features, you’ll find:
- A modern pen tool to draw in any direction with Vector Networks. There’s no need to connect to the path’s original point.
- Instant arc designs to create the most attractive UI.
- Advanced font features with OneType to fully express your brand.
- Responsive design with Auto Layout. Less manual resizing, more stretch to fill, and better results.
- Plugins for everything so you can remove repetitive tasks.
- Accessible libraries to find assets you can drag and drop on your project file
- Flexible styles to keep the website’s appearance consistent.
- Easy export to get the assets you need in the right formats.
- Advanced transitions and intuitive build to show your clients your interaction vision.
Adobe XD is a UX/UI design tool that has been made to help you bring your ideas to life. It’s an all-in-one platform that enables you to wireframe, animate, collaborate, prototype, and more. It has the right amount of everything so you can turn your ideas faster than ever before.
XD’s design is simple and provides you with great tools to create high-fidelity designs for any screen. Also, you can quickly sketch wireframes and mockups. With Adobe XD, you can work with your team in real-time, share your projects and collect feedback.
Its single app plan costs $9 per month, and it’s the best fit for professionals and small teams. Adobe has made XD for the way you work. For that reason, it offers the features listed below.
- 3D transforms to give the depth and perspective of your project. Elements can move in a 3D space to showcase your work in a new fascinating way.
- Repeat grid tool to duplicate galleries and lists in your projects. It helps you make changes instantly by only clicking, dragging, and dropping.
- Content-aware Layout to spend less time nudging and adjusting.
- XD enables you to import files from Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch to help you edit without starting over
- Auto-animate features to help you build micro-interactions and add eye-catching motion effects easily
- Voice prototyping
- Anchor Links
- Creative Cloud libraries and cloud services to help you scale your projects with confidence.
- XD plugins to automate tasks and enhances your designs
- Full app integrations with platforms like Dropbox Paper, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more.
- Plugin APIs
Sketch is a native macOS app built for designers. It’s very powerful and lets you customize your workflow with plugins and extensions. Its standard plan costs $9 per month, but you can start a 30-day free trial before making your decisions. Sketch is very collaborative and helps you scale your projects quickly. With Sketch, you can:
- Work with boolean operations to make iterations simple at any stage of the design process. Boolean operations are non-destructive, easy to combine, and editable.
- Export your assets with ease to get the perfect file any time you need to.
- Edith visuals using Vector Editing tools
- Add constraints, Math operators, and OpenType fonts to make your designs more dynamic
- Scale up your projects using reusable components, shared libraries, and tools to keep everything organized.
- Design together in real-time with your teammates
- Create prototypes really quick to test your ideas on any mac device
- Tap into a world of plugins, integrations, and assistants to go the extra mile on every project.
Pricing: $6/month (free plan available)
Zeplin also promotes collaboration during the design process. Its tailored platform lets you avoid getting lost in design files. You can get specs, assets, and code snippets by only drag and drop. For individual or personal projects, you can pick Zeplin’s team plan. It costs $6 per seat per month and enables you to work on up to 12 projects.
If you work on more than 12 projects per month, you should get the organization plan. It costs $12 per seat per month but requires 12 seat minimum to get the plan. The organization plan offers:
- Advanced user permissions
- Jira Server Integration
- Priority Support
- Team Workspace
- Unlimited version History
- Unlimited reviewers
Pricing: $8/month (free plan available)
As displayed on its website, InVision is the digital product design platform that powers the best user experiences in the world. With InVision, you can get started for free, but its free plan only offers one prototype and three broads.
InVision’s starter plan costs $13 per year if paid yearly or $15 if paid monthly. It lets you work on 3 prototypes, 3 boards and allow one designer. With Invision, you can take designs from ideas to development in just one platform. This platform offers:
- Real-time collaboration on an endless digital whiteboard. Start with a pre-built template or a blank canvas.
- Interactive prototyping to allow you to import files from platforms like Sketch to collect feedback from any device.
- Workflow connection with essential integrations like Jira, Sketch, and Slack.
- Design System Manager to bring all your principles, components, and code together in only one centralized place.
- Studio tools to amplify your creative expression with extraordinary screen design.
Pricing: $12/month (free plan available)
Marvel is also an All-in-one platform that helps you bring your design ideas to life. However, what makes it unique is that it offers user testing features. It’s lightweight, and with collaborative prototyping, the design process is much more comfortable.
Marvel has a free plan for starters. Nonetheless, its pro plan is what best fits individuals. The pro plan costs $12 per month when billed yearly, and you can work on unlimited projects. The pro plan allows you to remove Marvel branding, download prototypes, and have three active users test. Among the best Marvel features you’ll find:
- Dynamic prototyping without code.
- Quick design validation with the user testing tool
- Automatic design specs with the Developer Handoff tool.
- Integrations for everything and everyone to power up your workflow.
This one isn’t really a platform for creating wireframes, mockups or prototypes per se. What Avocode will allow you to do is integrate designs from all other platforms previously mentioned. So, if you’re working with someone and they have an XD, Sketch, Illustrator or any other type of design file, Avocode will convert it and let you inspect it.
Avocode’s most popular plan is the Team plan which costs $15 per member per month. It’s an excellent alternative for small teams like an agency team. This plan includes:
- Exclusive access to Beta tools
- Jira and Confluence integrations
- Slack integration
- Unlimited file version history
- Unlimited free guest users
- Unlimited projects and folders
- Public Design links
Having tested them all, these are what I think the best prototyping tools out there in the year 2021. What they’re going to do for your website design business is nothing short of amazing, because you will have an extra hand during the website pre-building process. However, to select the right one and impress your clients, you have to know what will improve your results.
For example, Sketch would be a better option if you are a macOS individual as it’s a native macOS app. On the contrary, if you’re a freelancer using a Windows PC, Adobe XD will help you give the best of you on every project.
Keep in mind that wireframing, prototyping, and mockup designing are essential to enhance the communication between you and your clients. They help you save time and play a critical role in keeping customers happy.