Being a step ahead of the curve is crucial in the quick-paced world of web design. Prototyping is one of the most important steps in the web design process since it enables designers to see and test their ideas before they are implemented. Web designers use a variety of tools made specifically for prototyping in order to help this creative and iterative process. These resources and time-saving technologies enable designers to realize their ideas, work with teams, and obtain insightful user feedback. In this post, we’ll look at 12 prototype tools that web designers now can’t live without as they strive to build beautiful, user-friendly websites and applications.
This curated list will assist you in finding the best prototype tool for your needs, allowing you to transform your design thoughts into dynamic and interesting digital experiences, regardless of your level of expertise or where you are in your web design career.
Where Prototyping Fits
By definition, a “prototype” is an early sample created to test specific concepts. A prototype is used to evaluate and enhance a system to gain better insight into the project as a whole. We all work on projects daily and some are much more intricate than others, but when is it time to ask for a tool to help up the food chain?
Some would argue that code is much faster to get started, but there are times when time is better spent using a prototype rather than spending time UI/UX development company designing something that can quickly fall by the wayside. Prototyping invites feedback on interaction and placement. It is an interactive outline, giving clients a better understanding of how the project best fits for its users.
Other times, prototyping before coding can help benefit the project by identifying any details that may have been left out.
Prototyping and the Web Design Landscape
When we ask ourselves where this fits into the landscape today, we can definitely attribute the ever-increasing demand for work on the move. Interfaces are becoming living organisms with interactive content. Simple interactions can be decided definitively to be explained verbally, but in other contexts it helps to gain perspective on how an interaction can be triggered—and more customers are demanding to see proof of concepts before signing off. It is important, now more than ever, to have an idea of where to go when the need to prototype arises.
With so many tools available on the market, which one should you use? Let’s see.
Framer grants the familiarity of visual editing with the flexibility of code, providing a seamless workflow complemented by device previewing, version control and simplistic sharing. An application that helps give rise to new interaction patterns to create amazing applications. Extract data from your favorite API, capture real user interaction for testing, and work with real users and feedback. Import graphics directly from Sketch, Photoshop or Figma
It should be known that Framer is not intended to be used to create production-ready animations.
Real-Time Collaboration:Real-time collaboration tools provided by Framer allow designers and team members to collaborate on the same project concurrently. This encourages smooth communication and teamwork throughout the design process.
Animation and Interaction:Designers can build intricate and realistic animations, transitions, and interactive features thanks to Framer’s extensive animation and interaction capabilities. It is simple to prototype complex user interactions thanks to the timeline for animation and gesture detection features.
Design Import:Designers may import design files into Framer from other well-known design applications like Sketch and Figma. As a result, the process of moving from design to prototype is streamlined and designers are able to use their current design assets.
Responsive Design:Framer enables responsive design, enabling designers to produce prototypes that change their orientation and size to fit various screen sizes. The consistency of the user experience across different platforms and devices depends on this functionality.
2. Adobe XD
Draw, reuse, and remix illustration in vector and raster formats to create prototypes, screen layouts, interactive prototypes, and production-ready assets all from the same app. Work with powerful tools like Repeat Grid built specifically for XD , and with layer, symbol, and pen tools for UX design. Add interactions that use a variety of animations to create transitions between artboards to simulate the flow of your app/website.
Customers can comment directly on your prototypes when you share directly, and you see designs in real time on real devices. Designs can be adjusted and automatically updated on various platforms.
While XD is still a beta product it remains to be seen if it will continue in the foreseeable future. You can read more about the released features here to stay informed about upcoming changes and improvements. We even published a 15-part series covering all the essential tools you’ll need to start designing and prototyping with Adobe XD:
Artboard-Based Design:Designers can easily develop and arrange design screens and artboards for various device sizes and orientations inside a single project using Adobe XD’s flexible artboard-based design canvas.
Prototyping and Interaction:Designers may develop interactive prototypes with transitions, animations, and motions using XD’s robust prototyping features. In order to properly replicate user flows and interactions, designers might establish linkages across artboards.
Auto-Animate:Auto-Animate, one of Adobe XD’s highlight features, allows designers to make fluid animations and transitions without using complicated scripting. The building of interactive and interesting user experiences is made easier by this capability.
Collaboration and Sharing:Working together is essential to the design process. Adobe XD makes it simpler for stakeholders, designers, and developers to work together by enabling different team members to interact on the same project in real-time. Additionally, designers may ask customers and team members for comments on prototypes and design specifications.
Asset Management and Design Libraries: Designers may develop and manage reusable design elements including colors, character styles, and component types using Adobe XD’s “Design Libraries” functionality. This feature makes it simpler to manage brand identification and design standards by ensuring uniformity in design across numerous displays and projects.
3. Adobe After Effects
After Effects isn’t specifically a prototyping tool for websites and apps (although you can still get away with that), but it does help with motion prototyping for those looking for a way to compile/sketch animations for clients. Create moving graphics for video or create animation effects for the Web. Here is a sensational article on Tuts+ by Charles Yeager :
Keyframe Animation:By establishing keyframes for numerous attributes like position, size, rotation, opacity, and more, After Effects users may create intricate animations. The timing and movement of objects and effects may be precisely controlled with this keyframe-based animation system.
Compositing:Compositing is where After Effects really shines, allowing users to seamlessly merge several layers of video, graphics, and pictures. For complex compositing operations, it provides a variety of blending modes, masks, and layer effects.
Visual Effects (VFX): With its large built-in visual effect library and robust node-based expression system, After Effects is recognized for enabling the creation of bespoke effects. Users may extend their creations by adding particle systems, simulating real-world physics, making explosions, and much more.
Motion Tracking: After Effects includes robust motion tracking tools that allow users to track the movement of objects or points in a video clip. This feature is essential for tasks such as attaching text or graphics to moving objects, stabilizing footage, or adding special effects that follow the camera’s motion.
3D Integration:After Effects offers 3D features that let users work with 3D layers, cameras, and lighting even though it is not a full-fledged 3D modeling and animation program. Due to the ability to create 3D text, logos, and basic 3D scenarios, projects’ overall aesthetic appeal is increased.
4. Adobe Animate CC
Vector Drawing Tools: A variety of vector drawing and illustration tools are available in Adobe Animate, making it simple to create and edit artwork. It is possible for users to produce scalable vector images and illustrations, which is crucial for producing animations and interactive material.
Timeline Animation: The timeline-based animation system in Adobe Animate is one of its key components. Users may use keyframes to animate characters and objects over time or build animations frame by frame. The timeline also makes it simple to synchronize and change the timing of animations.
Multiplatform Output: You may publish content with Adobe Animate to a variety of platforms, including the web, mobile devices, desktop apps, and more. The output formats it supports, including HTML5, WebGL, SWF (Flash), and video, make it compatible with a variety of hardware and software.
Asset Library: Users of Adobe Animate may save and manage reusable components like icons, images, and animations in the program’s library. This library makes it easier to reuse elements across several projects and supports maintaining consistency in animation and design.
Build prototypes with your actual design files. Craft is part of the Invision family; a company that acquires many tools (such as Macaw and Easee ) these days from external entities.
Craft Prototype is a powerful set of tools that allow you to design with real data, creating style guides in one click. With a prototype you can do the work right from Sketch; all in one space. With real-time projection on your phone you can immediately test design prototypes. When you’re ready to share, you can publish your work directly to Invision to gain instant feedback from clients and stakeholders. It even lets you prototype in high fidelity with motion, giving you a timeline to visually adjust using keyframes. Generate HTML and CSS, native swift code, and documentation for your developer. Watch this short video explaining Craft 2.0 Preview – Prototyping in Sketch on Vimeo.
Structural Design: The prototype should display the structural layout of the vessel, including its general size, shape, and material composition. This characteristic aids in assessing the craft’s physical stability and visual appeal.
Functional Components: Include functional elements like engines, control systems, navigational tools, or any other characteristics required for the vessel to carry out its intended activities depending on its intended use.
Ergonomics and User Experience: Consider adding elements that improve the userexperience, such as comfortable seats, clear controls, and simple accessibility, if the craft is intended for human usage.
Safety Features:Include safety elements to ensure the craft operates safely and shield people from potential risks, such as emergency shut-off devices, safety belts, or warning systems.
Prototyping Materials:Select the components that will make up the prototype. These resources need to be provided as an accurate representation of the finished craft’s appearance and functioning.
Principle makes it easy to design animated and interactive user interfaces. Whether you’re designing the flow of a multi-screen application, or new interactions and animations, Principle lets you create designs that look and feel great. The app closely resembles the Sketch ui ux design services including other familiar aspects for alignment, artboard creation, and screen connections, as well as real-time preview. Click on animation layers to dive deeper into keyframes and customize curve modification settings just as you would in other animation tools. Principle gives you the freedom to experiment without being limited to pre-defined transitions, plus you can also import artboards from Sketch.
The Principle Mirror app for iOS allows others to view your designs on their device. While you design, you can interact instantly by plugging your device into your computer or exporting a standalone Mac app for others to view.
Responsive Design: Designers should be able to use the tool to construct websites that adjust to various screen sizes and devices. The website will appear good and work properly on PCs, tablets, and smartphones thanks to this functionality.
Drag-and-Drop Interface:The design process is streamlined with a drag-and-drop interface that is user-friendly, allowing designers to position and organize items on web pages without having to have substantial coding knowledge.
Pre-designed Templates: A variety of web design tools provide libraries of pre-made templates that may be used as a jumping off point for new projects. These templates can be altered by designers to meet the unique requirements of their clients.
Typography and Color Controls: To ensure consistency and produce aesthetically appealing designs, the tool should include choices for choosing and altering fonts, colors, and text styles.
Asset Management: Designers can manage and organize materials like pictures, movies, and symbols with the use of efficient tools. Additionally, they must provide simple media file optimization, resizing, and uploading.
Atomic is a web-based application that integrates with Sketch, allowing you to import designs from there or anywhere of your choice. Bringing designs to Atomic is easy; use the powerful Sketch plugin or drop elements from your favorite design tool.
Atomic has built-in drawing and layout tools to design from scratch or continue from imported designs. Quickly link your designs using a range of gestures and transitions for mobile or desktop devices. Use custom CSS to apply additional styles and also export your CSS to share with other developers. Read more about Atomic’s features on their website .
Component Library: Designers should be able to build and save atomic design pieces like buttons, form elements, headers, and footers in the tool’s component library. These elements may be utilized in several projects and web sites.
Nesting and Composition: To generate more sophisticated design patterns, atomic design tools should facilitate the nesting and composition of components. Using this capability, designers may combine atomic components to create complex interfaces.
Version Control: Features for version control are crucial for managing design updates and modifications. Designers should be able to monitor changes, work with team members, and go back to earlier iterations as necessary.
Responsive Preview:It’s common for web designers to need to examine how atomic elements will look on various screens and devices. To assist designers in seeing the design at different breakpoints, the tool should include a responsive preview option.
Code Generation:On the basis of the designed components, certain atomic design tools may create code (HTML/CSS). By ensuring uniformity between the design and development phases, this feature helps expedite the process.
Build sophisticated animations for any design pattern interaction with the easy-to-use timeline with Proto . The app comes with a complete set of UI libraries like iOS 9, Material Design, Windows 10, and more. Designs can be imported using Sketch or the Photoshop plugin; import them in layers and sync them with Dropbox. Export UI resources directly. Preview prototypes in the browser or devices using the proto app for iOS or Android. Share with clients or team members to collaborate and generate feedback. Proto integrates with leading user testing tools for powerful feedback and insight.
Drag-and-Drop Interface: Designers may add and organize components on a canvas much like they would in the final design thanks to a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. This function makes prototyping easier.
Interactive Elements: Designers should be able to construct interactive components like buttons, links, and forms using prototyping tools. These interactions aid in illustrating the design’s usability and usefulness.
Device Preview:Designers must test their prototypes on various hardware and screen sizes to see how they will appear and behave. The solution should enable previewing and testing of prototypes across a range of platforms, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones.
Animation and Transitions:Prototyping tools should include animations and transitions so that user flow and transitions between screens or components may be demonstrated. This function aids designers in communicating the desired user experience.
Collaboration and Sharing:Team members and stakeholders may collaborate while using effective prototyping tools. They should also offer version control to keep track of changes and allow designers to share prototypes with others for comments and feedback.
9. Justin MInda
JustinMind is an app-based product for transforming simple sketches into interactive prototypes for iOS and Android, and creating prototypes for web and mobile devices. Take advantage of pre-built UI libraries, embed HTML and documents into anything your heart desires. Paid accounts allow multiple users to simultaneously interact with the same prototype making feedback effortless. It even has an extensive library of pre-existing widgets tailored to the device template selected for your project. Elements such as interactive buttons, checkboxes, lists and even layouts with parallax effects are at your disposal.
If you are new to this tool it comes packed with great tutorials and guided videos for everyone from beginners to experts. While it offers a free plan for in-browser sharing capabilities, you should upgrade to a paid account for collaboration among your team members. With JustinMind Prototyper you can import images from any design tool or directly from your web browser and turn them into fascinating and captivating web prototypes with the “image focus” tool. Export your prototype to a fully functional HTML document and make it available for viewing in any web browser.
Drag-and-Drop Interface: Designers may easily construct and organize objects on the canvas with Justinmind’s user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. The prototype process is streamlined by this simple design.
Interactive Prototyping: Designers may use the tool to make interactive prototypes featuring links, buttons, and interactive forms. This functionality aids designers in showcasing the design’s usability and functionality.
Rich Library of UI Elements: Button, form, navigation menu, and other pre-designed UI components are all available in Justinmind’s extensive collection. These components allow designers to quickly construct prototypes without having to start from scratch.
Device Preview and Testing:To make sure the design is responsive and works properly across all platforms, designers may preview and test their prototypes on numerous devices and screen sizes.
Collaboration and Feedback: Designers may share their prototypes with team members and stakeholders in Justinmind for feedback and comments thanks to its collaborative capabilities. Version control is also offered so that changes and revisions may be tracked.
Origami is built and used by designers at Facebook and has been used to create applications like Instagram, Messenger and Paper. Copy anything from Sketch and paste native layers into Origami Studio. Quickly adjust, add behavior, and animate any layer property without returning it to its original position. The tool offers designers a series of gestures and transition animations that are common for UI patterns.
Origami offers useful features for interactive prototyping along with plugins for Sketch and Photoshop as well as a complete documentation library with forums.
There is an “Export to Code” feature that allows you to convert your virtual design into written code samples for iOS, Android, or the web. You can’t directly share prototypes with individuals operating on devices other than yours, although you can preview your prototypes with Origami Live, available for Android and iOS. Check out the tutorials for a clearer idea on the Origami website .
Patch-Based Interface:In Origami, interactions, animations, and behaviors are created by connecting several patches (or nodes) together. This visual method enables flexible complicated interaction design without code.
Live Device Preview: The Origami Live software allows designers to see their prototypes in real-time on genuine devices. This function contributes to making sure the design appears and performs as intended on mobile devices.
Reusable Components: Origami enables designers to produce reusable components, simplifying the prototype process and facilitating uniformity across the design.
Interactions and Animations:The tool offers a broad variety of interactions and animations, enabling designers to produce user experiences that are fluid and dynamic. This covers animations that use physics, transitions, and motions.
Integration with Design Tools:Designers may import their design elements and move effortlessly between the design and prototype stages by integrating Origami with well-known design tools like Sketch and Figma.
Flinto for Mac is an app-based tool that lets you create anything from simple button-press prototypes to full interaction prototypes. There is no scheduling or timelines; it is a prototyping tool for designers at its finest. Place objects and components wherever you want. Transitions can be simple or complex, and transitions are reusable. You have precise control over each layer, including returning to its original state or with a cubic-bezier velocity curve.
Use “designer behavior” to create micro-interactions that exist within a screen. This is perfect for things like button effects, enabling or disabling switches, looping animations, and scroll-based animations.
Adding scrolling areas to your screens is easy too; select layers, and click on the “scroll group” button. You can modify a variety of options, create page scroll groups, nest scroll groups, and even create animations based on scrolling.
All the changes you make in Flinto for Mac can be tested immediately in the preview window, or on your iPhone or iPad connected to your WiFi network using the free iOS viewer app.
Transition and Animation Builder : Designers may build seamless animations and transitions between screens or components with Flinto. Designers may specify several transitional styles, such as slide, fade, and scale, to effectively represent the user experience.
Interactive Gestures:To replicate user interactions with the prototype, designers might include interactive gestures like taps, swipes, and drags. This function aids in illustrating how the finished product will react to user interaction.
Microinteractions: Microinteractions, which are minor animations or reactions to user actions, may be created with Flinto. By offering advice and criticism, these microinteractions can improve the user experience.
Mobile Preview:The Flinto mobile software allows designers to see their prototypes on portable devices. This attribute makes sure that the design works as expected and appears as intended on actual devices.
Collaboration and Sharing: Designers may share their prototypes with team members and stakeholders in Flinto for feedback and comments thanks to the collaboration tools it offers. Version control is also offered so that changes and revisions may be tracked.
Webflow is another web-based application that runs directly on the latest versions of Chrome and Safari. This means that it is currently optimized for those browsers, however the code produced has cross-browser support.
“Build dynamic responsive websites without writing code. Launch with one click, and enjoy the fastest, most reliable hosting on the web. Export clean, semantic code to deliver to developers.
Weflow is mainly focused on web animations, UI/UXdevelopment services interactions and responsive web design. Interactions 2.0 are approaching and will offer more control for animations and interactions through breakpoints (often a headache for express designers), and of course the ease of building visually vs. the power of code.
To give you a sample of the possibilities of Webflow, check out this instant demo that can also be seen on Weflow or check out the code produced in this CodePen demo . It’s also nice to get a sample of the UI in this video .
The quality of the code that is produced is semantic, readable and is easy to work with whether you export it and use it externally or give it to a developer. Here are some demos showing the code produced.
Visual Web Design: Webflow is a potent visual web design platform that enables visual website creation. Within a live visual editor, users can drag and drop components to create layouts, add items, and customize them.
Responsive Design: Webflow makes it simple for designers to build responsive websites. As a result, websites look great and work properly on PCs, tablets, and smartphones. The platform enables designers to adapt the design for various screen sizes and devices.
CMS (Content Management System):A built-in CMS provided by Webflow enables designers to develop dynamic, content-driven websites. Designers may create templates for dynamic pages, add and manage content, and define bespoke content structures.
Hosting and Publishing: Designers may publish their websites straight from the platform with Webflow’s web hosting features. With possibilities for custom domains, SSL certificates, and international content delivery, it provides dependable and secure hosting.
Interactions and Animations:Webflow gives designers the ability to edit their websites’ interactive features, animations, and transitions without writing any code. This function enables the construction of aesthetically appealing and engaging user experiences.
Glad you are reading this. I’m Yokesh Sankar, the COO at Sparkout Tech, one of the primary founders of a highly creative space. I’m more associated with digital transformation solutions for global issues. Nurturing in Fintech, supply chain, Real estate, and other sectors vitalizing new-age technology, I see this space as a forum to share and seek information. Writing and reading give me more clarity about what I need.