After almost 30 years of innovation in web development, the official slogan of 2016 is “Design will save the world!” It’s no longer acceptable to just make a functional web or mobile application. Digital creators must use design throughout every stage of the building process to ensure users will intuitively understand their product and make it visually pleasing so they’ll return time and time again.

UX intro

Given this truth, it’s no surprise that engineers, developers, product managers, even CEOs and investors have shifted their priorities to place thoughtful design principles at the heart of their latest projects. Whether you’re in the planning stage, designing the UX or adding the finishing touches, there’s an enormous pool of resources and tools that can help you build something beautiful and useful. (You can brush up on your designer roles in the 21st Century here).

We’ve outlined the pros and cons of our favorite design-related tools and platforms ready for you to add to your digital designer toolkit.

Wireframing (UX)

Balsamiq

Sketchapp
These guys have tracked down the most useful and relevant icons and UI kits for mobile and web development to help you prototype, learn and ideate faster. With Sketch you can create professional custom vector graphics that integrate easily into your project.

PROS

  • One time payment
  • Included templates are useful for quick prototyping
  • Huge user community and support
  • Already useful for UI

CONS

  • It’s not a dedicated app for wireframing

Balsamiq
A favorite for digital innovators, Balsamiq’s rapid wireframing tool reproduces the feel of sketching on a whiteboard, your renders and mockups can be shared and modified quickly and easily by your developers.

PROS

  • Well known wireframing/prototyping tool
  • Dedicated product
  • Powerful collaborative environment

CONS

  • Needing of learning a dedicated app for wireframing

OmniGraffle
This innovative platform uses shape recognition to transform hand-drawn graphics into precise wireframes. OmniGraffle’s latest release has been optimized for the Apple pencil bringing even better image rendering for faster prototyping.

PROS

  • Easy to use native user interface
  • Swiss knife covering every platform

CONS

  • For mobile it only has apps for iOS
  • Needing of learning a dedicated app for wireframing

Static Mockups with Flow Interactions (UI)

marvelapp

Marvel App
Marvel is a WYSIWYG tool for turning sketches, images and mockups into realistic mobile and web prototypes. It’s drag and drop interface is perfect for the non-technical creator trying to express their ideas to developers.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Supports majority of devices
  • Free for unlimited projects (limited capabilities)
  • Plans prices are balanced and includes unlimited projects

CONS

  • It isn’t the fastest or the most complete tool for web prototyping, but works fine

Flinto
Flinto prototypes help you map out the user journey of your mobile app in such a realistic style that people will think it’s the final app.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Subscription includes Flinto for Mac
  • Easy navigation

CONS

  • Less devices covered than other options
  • It has less gestures than other options

InVision
The longstanding designer favorite for web and mobile development is the perfect collaboration platform hosted in the cloud so your team can interact on design mockups no matter where in the world they happen to be.

PROS

  • Dedicated for websites and supports mobile
  • Nice amount of actions
  • Easy syncing with cloud storage and auto-updates
  • Collaborative platform for sharing feedback and tracking progress

CONS

  • Not the best performance in mobile prototypes
  • Has less options than mobile specific ones

Dynamic animations and interactions (UI/ID)

pixate

Flinto for Mac
The Mac version is a comprehensive app prototyping tool perfect for creating simple tap-through interfaces or complex interaction design. Develop the perfect gesture UX, animated transitions and flexible scrolling all without any programming knowledge.

PROS

  • Custom animations and presets
  • Integration with Sketchapp
  • Native OSX application

CONS

  • Learning curve can be a bit difficult at the beginning
  • Animations cannot be exported into real code

Pixate
Pixate develops 100% native prototypes so you can experience exactly how your ideas will appear and feel on the device they’re designed for. Plus, it’s free thanks to Google.

PROS

  • A lot of custom presets and configurations
  • Native client for Mac and Windows

CONS

  • Learning curve can be a bit difficult at the beginning
  • Animations cannot be exported into real code

Facebook Origami
This 100% free tool is perfect for designing modern user interfaces, testing it on your mobile device and exporting the code so engineers can get to work.

PROS

  • Directly works with Apple SDK
  • Visual block system for adding and connecting animations/objects
  • Free for everyone with an Apple Developer account (free)

CONS

  • Needs the whole SDK (Xcode)
  • Hard to learn and to use as the software isn’t dedicated and offers lots of different options
  • SDK is for building iOS applications only, although Quartz can be used for generating universal animations

Wireframing is increasingly the most crucial step for creating successful, long-lasting products. Static mockups and flow interactions are necessary to establish an intuitive experience and make sure the user won’t get lost inside the product. Dynamic animations and interactive tools are a fantastic way to enhance your app and put your work into the language of your development team. It’s important to point out that the more advanced design tools can be difficult and have a steeper learning curve, however, they can be dramatically useful when building complex, multi-dimensional applications.

In the end, it’s all about the user. It’s your job to use design to make your next app attractive, intuitive and useful for your target audience. These tools will help you make it happen, faster.

At Mobile Jazz, we believe in design and we will help you create better experiences. We strive to be at the top of what’s happening in technology, digital marketing and design. We continuously educate ourselves, and experiment with the latest trends to stay ahead of everyone else. That’s why we’re able to give you a competitive advantage in the market. Simply drop us a line and we’ll take your project one step ahead!

Authors

Pablo Garcia Roca

Pablo Garcia Roca

Pablo García studied graphic design at degree level and has been working on UX and UI for many digital platforms.