“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin
Prototyping is a technique that gets right to the heart of what User Experience (UX) is all about. It’s the process of creating quick, easily disposable mockups in order to identify problems before spending valuable time designing and building the final product.
Whether you’re working on a website, mobile app, or any other piece of interactive software, prototyping is a critical part of the process. And choosing the right tool for the job is critical if you want to move fast and stay efficient.
With that in mind, here are a few of our favorites programs:
Best used for: Simple, clickable prototypes
Invision has long been a favorite tool of students in the Designation program. It offers a powerful and robust suite of features, while still handling simple, clickable prototypes with ease. Although a new version of the platform just rolled out with a ton of new features and capabilities, its beauty is still in its simplicity: Clickable prototypes, in either high or low fidelity, to demonstrate simple user flows. It’s quick, flexible, and easy to use, which is pretty much perfect for creating lots of quick, iterative versions of your product.
Best used for: Interactive Prototypes
Somewhat similar to Invision, Proto.io offers a bit more robustness in some of its features, especially with regards to capturing specific kinds of user interactions such as entering data, moving a slider, etc., with support for both gesture and mouse-based events. It can also simulate native UI elements for both Android and iOS, so that you can actually design directly into the prototype, rather than just with pre-built screens. Add in a suite of additional design features, animations, templates and more, and you’ve got a tool that’s both powerful and flexible.
Best used for: Robust, high-fidelity prototypes
The nuclear weaponry of prototyping tools, if it can be done, Axure probably does it. In many ways, Axure’s power is both its greatest strength as well as its greatest weakness. While it offers an extremely robust capability to create interactive, high-fidelity prototypes that can be shared through their Axshare domain, its oftentimes more tool than the job calls for. After all, the purpose of prototyping is oftentimes to move fast, learn what you can about your product, and then move on to the next iteration.
Having said that, for projects that are a little further down the line in terms of their development, Axure is an extremely powerful way to communicate your ideas to others. Click below for an interactive example of a project built in Axure.
Honorary mention: Keynote
Yes Keynote. Yes, that Keynote, the one that comes preinstalled on every Mac computer sold. Keynote offers a simple slideshow presentation platform. But it also lets you link Slide A to Slide B with a click. Put enough of those together and you actually have an interactive prototype. Fast, easy, and a piece of software that almost everyone has access to, there’s nothing wrong with using this ubiquitous tool to get your idea up and on its feet.