Excellent customer experience is the bedrock of any business aiming to succeed in the digital world. For UI/UX designers, it is imperative to create functional, intuitive, and user-friendly interfaces that solve problems and create a pleasurable experience for users while at it. And as more businesses are shifting online, designers must be armed with the right UI UX tools to stay ahead of the curve, fast-track design process, and produce optimal results.
From design sketching to wireframing to user testing, UI UX tools provide designers with the best design assets to create and deliver digital experiences that users will relish. In this guide, you’ll discover the most-used UI UX tools, their key features, and pricing plans. You’ll also learn the best practices for using these tools.
- UI UX tools are vital for creating aesthetically pleasing user interfaces that meet user needs
- There are several tools for creating UI UX designs; the most popular ones are Adobe XD, Figma, Sketch, and InVision
- In any design project, collaboration is critical to prevent the risks of inconsistencies and increase the design quality
- UI UX tools have unmatched collaboration features that allow design teams to work together, edit, and provide feedback
- Most UI UX tools allow designers to preview their designs on different devices
- UI UX tools are not created to replace but to enhance developer skills and increase work efficiency
- For best practices, stay informed on relevant trends and features for making the best user interface
UI/UX Tools and Their Importance in Modern Digital Design
UI/UX in today’s world has evolved beyond the use of menus, forms, or other buttons designed for user interaction.
Growth Lead at UXPin, Chris Banks, explains, ‘It’s mixing the principles of business and an extraordinary web interface that must feel effortless yet enticing.’ The design should establish a connection with the user in a way that makes the user feel absolutely comfortable. Ideally, every UI/UX design should answer the following:
- What is this? (Usefulness)
- How do I use it? (Usability)
- Why should I care? (Desirability)
As attention spans continue to decrease, many companies and designers are expected to shift towards a personalized, seamless, and effortless design experience. This not only keeps users engaged but also generates higher user engagement.
How Can UI/UX Tools Help to Achieve This?
UI UX tools allow designers to create realistic, fully-functional hi-fi wireframes, prototypes, and mockups. It focuses on the user and determines their interaction with the product/service interface.
Ultimately, the best UI UX tool has a user-friendly interface with relevant design assets for easy designing, allows integration with third-party collaboration tools, and fosters seamless communication between the design team and stakeholders.
As the modern digital landscape keeps evolving, visual aesthetics and hierarchy are also transcending to provide users with a streamlined and more engaging experience. To remain competitive in today’s crowded marketplace, small and medium-sized businesses must stay on par with these trends.
How UI UX Tools Are Crucial for Businesses Looking to Succeed in the Digital World
Design isn’t what it looks or feels like. Design is how it works – Steve Jobs.
Now, more than ever, digital businesses need to create unmatched customer experiences to attract and retain users. Here are specific reasons:
Improved User Experience
Just as a well-designed physical store looks attractive, UIUX design is critical to ensuring business success in the digital world. If well done, it can increase customer engagement, conversion rates, and rankings on search engines.
On the other hand, a poorly designed interface can drive potential users from your site and taint your business reputation.
UI UX tools help designers create intuitive, user-friendly, and visually-appealing designs, enhancing the whole user appearance and ambiance of the brand. You’ll find various tools that can be customized to specific use cases and audiences.
Faster Time to Market
The design process is lengthy and can be time-taking. From the research stage to sketching, wireframing, prototyping, and finally, user testing, each process can take a few hours to days.
By using UI/UX design tools, businesses can drastically reduce the time required to create designs from start to finish, increasing the time-to-market products and services.
A prototype is a model or sample of a digital product for user testing before creation and launch. UI/UX tools provide access to design assets for creating responsive and engaging prototypes that simulate the user experience for a product or service.
They also allow for user testing, giving designers accurate insights into what’s working and what’s not and how to adjust accordingly before committing to full-scale development. This way, businesses can save costs on design and developmental processes while ensuring the proposed design solves the intended user problem.
UI/UX tools enable designers to share projects seamlessly with developers, marketers, and other stakeholders. Most of these tools, like Figma, have real-time collaboration features, allowing designers and other team members to work on design projects simultaneously.
What’s more intriguing is that users can create and share design libraries with other members to ensure the designs are consistent throughout the process. All these features make it easy to create designs that meet the needs of businesses and users alike, improving the market success rate.
Increased Conversion Rates
According to research, every $1 invested in UX yields a 100% return ($100). In fact, 86% of customers are willing to pay for a better customer experience. All these statistics point to one fact: User Experience is a key determinant in customer retention. And as user satisfaction rises, session durations lengthen, and conversion rates increase.
Top UI/UX Tools for Designers
The perks of using UI/UX tools during the design process are endless. Although many tools are available on the Internet, using the wrong tool can paralyze your efforts. In this section, you’ll find the top 10 UI/UX tools for web projects, their key features, and pricing packages.
Figma is one of the most popular UI/UX design tools. It is a cloud-based tool that has won the hearts of many designers and developers due to its intuitive design and powerful collaboration features.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced UI/UX designer, Figma makes creating and designing prototypes easy. You’ll find a comprehensive and open-sourced library of pre-built UI components that can be customized to fit your design needs.
Another stand-out feature is the collaboration feature. Teams of all sizes can collaborate effectively in real-time on design projects and make changes as needed. Their vision is to ‘make design accessible to everyone.’ This way, the workflow becomes faster and more accessible, and design teams can deliver better products for end users.
- Works on any platform – MAC, Windows, Linux machines, Windows, etc
- Developer handoff is easy
- It’s open-sourced and has a vibrant developer community
- Access to over 300+ templates as design inspirations
- An auto-layout feature that eliminates the need to resize buttons or font size when iterations are made
Pricing: Figma is free for beginners. It allows access to 3 Figma designs, unlimited collaboration, storage, widgets, templates, and more. The pro plans start at $12/mo (Figma Professional) to $75/mo (Figma Enterprise).
Sketch was launched in 2010 and has remained one of the most powerful software in any designer’s repository. It is specifically designed for creating vector designs, icons, and other graphical elements for design. It has a sleek user interface for easy prototyping. The reusable components feature makes it undeniably easy to create design assets for use at will.
- Supports diverse plugins to increase functionality
- Has a large developer community for instant support
- Allows designers to share or invite others to view and make changes to a project in real-time
- Provides detailed pixel arrangement
- Available for only MAC users
Pricing: Sketch offers no free plans, but the lowest plan starts at $9/mo. In this plan, you’ll get unlimited free viewers, real-time collaboration on MAC only, offline designs, templates, and many more. The highest plan costs $20/mo.
Adobe XD is a vector-based design platform that provides designers with extensive assets for creating wireframes and interactive prototypes. It has several features for all stages of the design process – from ideation to developer handoff.
You can set up live prototyping thanks to the interactive prototyping elements such as animations and illustrations. The Live Preview feature lets you preview your designs live and see how changes are made throughout the project. You’ll find features to help keep your designs organized, such as layouts and grids.
- Compatible with all platforms – Windows, MAC, Linux, etc
- A handful of resources in the form of articles, blogs, tutorial videos, etc., to help beginners get started with the tool
- Strong support for designing a responsive interface that adapts to all screens and sizes
- Wide range of plugins and extensions to increase functionality
- Seamlessly integrates with other Adobe Creative Cloud apps, such as Photoshop or Illustration
Pricing: Adobe XD offers a seven days free trial to new users. To access Adobe XD, you must buy any of their Creative Cloud packages, which comprises other Adobe tools, including XD. VR
InVision Studio started as a prototyping tool compatible with Photoshop and Sketch. Initially, the software was only used to design interactive prototypes but was later upgraded to provide more extensive features for major design processes. It’s web-based but allows users to preview designs through a mirror app on mobile devices.
InVison Studio has a sleek and interactive user interface. It has features for planning user flows, creating UI navigation patterns and wireframes, and designing responsive prototypes. There are pre-built templates and design tools for prototyping to increase work efficiency and design quality. Thanks to the collaboration feature, designers, stakeholders, marketers, and other project teams can edit and add comments to projects in real-time.
- It can be integrated with Sketch, Microsoft Teams, and Slack
- Easy prototyping and actionable wireframes to help designers and project managers mock up ideas
- Easy to upload prototypes from Sketch
Pricing: InVision Studio is free to download and use. The paid plans are inexpensive, but you’ll have more features for creating hifi prototypes.
Axure RP is another powerful prototyping tool for creating interactive HTML prototypes. The RP stands for Rapid Prototyping, which allows the fast creation of UX prototypes. It’s specifically designed for designing complex projects, for instance, software applications and e-commerce websites. With this tool, designers can build prototypes with various user inputs and dynamic animations that make the prototype interactive.
Axure RP has an intuitive user-interface housing the central canvas, design boards, layers, page hierarchy, formatting tools, and many more. The stand-out feature is the library of widgets that you can simply drag and drop into your design.
- It can be integrated with Figma, Adobe XD, Sketch, Microsoft Teams, and Slack
- Access to built-in widgets for easy and fast prototyping
- Vast knowledge base and fully-functional support
- Compatible with iOS and Android devices, Windows and Mac desktops
- Ability to add conditional logic, expressions, and variables
Pricing: Axure RP has three pricing plans; the lowest costs $25/mo.
Are you looking for a UI/UX design tool that allows you to create and publish designs without coding experience? Marvel is just perfect for you. It is a web-based prototyping tool for creating user flows, animations, and interactive prototypes. Its user-friendly interface makes it a go-to for new developers and designers to create designs without coding.
Another attractive benefit of this tool is that you don’t need to integrate with third-party tools. It has all functionalities required for all design phases, from designing wireframes to user testing. Designers can also receive feedback or add teams through a shareable URL.
- It has a user-friendly and intuitive interface
- Access to rich-resource pre-built UI elements, icons, and other design assets
- In-built animations to add engagement to prototypes
- Compatible with other design tools like Figma, Adobe XD
Pricing: Marvel has a free user account with limited features. All the A-grade functions are housed in the paid plans, which start at $12/mo.
Principle is a design tool designed to create animations and user interface interactions. It’s like the extra feature you add to a video game to make it more engaging. You can easily import your designs from other ui/ux design tools like Sketch or Figma to add customizations as required for your project. Principle is perfect for designers or developers looking to create interactive and intuitive user interfaces.
You’ll definitely love the magic animations, pre-defined transitions, ability to design multi-screen apps, and many more. With one click, you can share your designs with other team members to view or make edits as necessary.
- Beginner-friendly interface, even without coding knowledge
- It has a rich repository for idea inspiration
- Real-time preview in different devices and screen size
- Vast knowledge base to learn the features
- It can be integrated with Figma and Sketch
Pricing: Principle offers a 14-day free trial. After that, you’d pay $129 to access the full features.
ProtoPie is another cutting-edge ui ux design tool for creating advanced animations and interactions. You’ll see many features to create complex user flows and fluid interactions. It supports multi-touch gestures (like swipe, rotate, pinch to zoom) and pre-built sensors to design realistic high-fidelity prototypes.
You can create intricate interactions between elements and designs with advanced interaction tools. These interactions can be customized to each user’s needs. For example, the controlled logic system allows designers to create interactions that change the behavior of an element based on the user’s activities.
- Cross-platform compatibility
- High-fidelity prototyping features
- Large team design libraries for inspiration
- Fast and easy sharing via the cloud
- Zero-coding knowledge required
- Designs can be imported from Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch
Pricing: ProtoPie offers a free plan, which allows up to two prototypes and access to all prototyping features. Professional designers and developers can opt for the pro ($67/mo) or enterprise plan (custom) with broader features.
There are ample resources for design elements such as fonts, buttons, icons, sliders, etc., and pre-built templates for faster and more beautiful web designs. Users can apply these features to build a beautiful and responsive website. Designers can also use Webflow to create wireframes, mockups, and responsive prototypes.
- Active community support
- Cross-browser compatibility
- Drag and drop design elements
- Allows designers to create reusable components
Pricing: WebFlow starts at $12/mo for the basic plan. However, you need to upgrade to higher plans to create high-traffic sites like eCommerce stores.
Canva is one of the best design tools and is popular among UI/UX and graphics designers. It’s tailored for creating quick designs for social media posts, articles, white papers, eBooks, and other marketing materials. You’ll find a rich resource of design templates, icons, graphics, stock images, illustrations, and more to create designs even without expert design skills. This flexibility makes it perfect for beginners and expert designers.
You can also share the design links to invite stakeholders or team members to make edits to your project on Canva. The ‘presentation’ feature makes it easy to give teams a walkthrough of your design. In fact, with the new Visual WorkSuite of tools, you can create customer journey maps, high and low-fidelity prototypes, and presentations.
- Extensive library of design assets
- Drag and drop editors
- Allows designers to create animations
- Access to AI-powered tools
Pricing: Canva has free and paid plans. The free plan is great for starters but has limited access to the design elements.
Benefits of Using UX UI Tools in Web Development Project
There are many benefits to using UX/UI design tools in web development. Not only do they serve as a solid foundation for designers, but they are also cost-effective. Here are some other benefits:
Faster Design Process
UX/UI tools are essential to web development since they provide ready-made layouts that help speed up the design process. These tools include templates for website components, such as buttons, navigation bars, forms, and other user interface elements for speeding up the design process.
They also ensure design uniformity across the screens. With all these features, designers can save time and focus on other time-consuming activities.
Consistency in Design
Consistency is one of the laws of the UI UX design process. It helps users to understand how to interact with the website and avoid uncertainties. For example, most UI/UX tools allow developers to create and share design libraries. Regularly used UI components like buttons, forms, and navigation bars can be replicated at any time without reinventing the wheel.
You’ll also find real-time collaboration features that enable multiple designers to work on the same design project simultaneously.
Improved User Engagement
Understanding the needs and preferences of users allows web designers to create interfaces that improve the user experience, making it more fun and engaging. Using UX UI in web projects can give detailed and accurate insights into user behavior and journey.
Creating wireframes and prototypes for accurate time user testing also helps identify areas to help users solve their problems.
Usability testing embedded into UX/UI technologies helps web designers test their designs with real users to uncover usability issues and receive feedback.
This feedback assists designers in better understanding user demands and behaviors, iterating designs, and optimizing the user experience. In-built usability testing also saves time and resources by discovering problems before implementation, enhancing overall design quality, and increasing user engagement and overall satisfaction.
UX/UI tools can improve cost-effectiveness in many ways. Firstly, they offer designers pre-made templates, design elements, and libraries, saving time and reducing the need for creating from scratch. This allows designers to develop projects more quickly, thus, lowering labor expenses.
UX/UI tools also assist designers in identifying usability issues and making design decisions based on user feedback, which reduces the need for costly redesigns or revisions.
Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your UX/UI Design Tool
Integrating UX/UI design tools into your design process significantly impacts your digital platform, so you need to ensure you’re making the best use of your investments. Here are some tips on getting the most out of UX/UI design tools:
Stay Up-to-date With New Features
To remain competitive and thrive in the fast-paced UX/UI design field, designers must keep up with emerging features and trends. Enhancements to collaboration and communication, new design templates, scrollytelling, data storytelling, minimalism, VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) UI design, etc., are exciting features to expect.
“One trend that will be table stakes in UX within the next five years is personalization. As technology advances and consumers demand more personalized experiences, companies will need to incorporate personalization into their products to remain competitive.” Imane Adel of Paymob shared with Forbes, “Companies must use artificial intelligence and machine learning to tailor the UX to individual preferences for greater customer engagement, loyalty, and retention.”
Collaborate With Team Members
Collaboration among team members is vital to get the most out of UX/UI design tools. Working together allows designers to share knowledge, skills, and ideas, resulting in unique designs and better user experiences.
In addition, collaboration promotes a sense of accountability and ownership among team members, who are equally invested in the project’s success. Designers can harness the team’s capabilities, resulting in higher-quality designs and improved user experiences.
Optimize Designs for Mobile Devices
Designing for mobile devices is essential for getting the most out of UX/UI design tools. Mobile usage is continuously expanding, and with the rise of smartphones, designing for mobile is no longer an option to thrive in the digital space. It’s required.
Designers can use UX/UI design tools to build mobile-responsive designs optimized for diverse screen sizes and resolutions. This increases user engagement and guarantees long-term brand visibility on search engines.
Use Design Systems
Therese Fessenden of Neilsen Norman group captured the essence of a design system most explicitly: ”A design system is a set of standards to manage design at scale by reducing redundancy while creating a shared language and visual consistency across different pages and channels.”
Design systems can assist designers in getting the most out of UX/UI design tools. They offer a comprehensive set of pre-made UI elements and components that assist designers in creating consistent, high-quality designs. By leveraging design systems, designers can build effective designs that match the organization’s design requirements, resulting in improved user experiences and greater brand recognition.
Designers can use prototyping to detect usability concerns, receive feedback, and make changes based on user testing. They can also iterate designs more quickly by generating prototypes, avoiding the need for costly redesigns. In addition, prototypes can assist designers in communicating their design concepts to stakeholders, making obtaining approval for the final design easier.
Don’t Rely Too Heavily on UX/UI Design Tools
Design tools complement rather than replace human creativity and analytical thinking during the design process. Relying heavily on UX/UI tools can result in generic or robotic designs needing uniqueness and originality.
Design tools are only as good as the user’s abilities and knowledge; therefore, a firm understanding of design concepts and user demands is vital before using these tools.
The right UI UX tools are no longer optional but mandatory to create functional user interfaces. Remember, these tools are designed to complement your skills and not to replace them. Maximize their distinctive features to achieve the desired results quickly.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Define the scope of the design project and gather information on the user personas
- Create sketches and wireframes
- Use your choice tool to design the visual layout for your website
- Create an appealing prototype and add interactive elements to make it more engaging and responsive
- Use the best website builders and recommended web host tailored for your website
- Check out the top recommended web hosting providers or free web hosting providers
- Test your website and ensure it’s well-optimized for all screens