The UX/UI design space has seen some massive changes in the last 10 years. I cringe to see anyone try and design a digital product in Photoshop or Illustrator anymore. Simply because they don’t allow for the agile environments that many product teams work in today.
As a former Adobe supporter, I’ve used everything from Dreamweaver, After Affects, Indesign to the more recent Adobe XD. And although I still have a cloud subscription I’m much more open to using tools outside that eco system to find the most efficient way of designing and developing great digital products.
Price: $99 p/yr (regular updates per yr)
This had to be first on the list for me. Sketch is one of the leading UX/UI design tools and was one of the first in the game when it came to creating reusable components and libraries which is critical when designing for fast iterations. Since I’ve started using it they’ve branched out into prototyping, cloud backups and more recently, team collaboration and converting from design to HTML/CSS code – neat!
With thousands of plugins and resources to choose from it’s a tool you’d definitely want to dive into first if you’re new to product design. The only downside is that it’s mac only, so ensure that those who wish to edit your files are also working on a mac.
Figma is the leading design tool when it comes to collaborative design and designops. Figma is a master when it comes to UX/UI design tools. Firstly, it’s browser based which makes it so easy to move from one computer to another and is device agnostic (Hooray for those on PC!). Figma has more recently mastered live collaboration which is great for remote teams, and has a nice design library setup for sharing common components. There’s a lot of rave around Figma at the moment (see search results below) it’s often compared with Sketch as they have comparatively similar features. If you’re PC based or work remotely, give Figma a try.
Also! If you’re migrating across from Sketch, Figma has a plugin which allows you to pull across files easily.
This isn’t one for creating high-fidelity prototypes but more a UX tool. Whether you’re crafting personas, user journeys or quickly mocking up concepts, Whimsical is like a brainstorming tool but with a seriously beautiful and usable interface.
I use this tool for creating user flows and journeys mainly, however it allows you to do card sorting and brainstorming easily. You can even share it with your team remotely via a link (password optional) and export to PDF quickly. I have my own personal subscription to this tool as I love how easy it is to design a walk through based on research notes and share it with the team.
Having my own Adobe Cloud subscription, this one is easy for me to access. Adobe was intially slow to release a UX/UI design tool but I feel like they’ve managed to catch up in areas such as prototyping, libraries and collboration. For those who are familiar with Adobe products, it will be easy to pick up. Also, just like with other adobe products, it is available to those on PC.
One downside is that they’re not yet there with version control, however they are a strong contender for those looking to learn a new tool.
I used Invision for at least 4 years now and I thought at one point that they were capable of taking out Sketch as the #1 design tool at the time. Invision started out as a prototyping tool. Initially you exported designed JPG files and linked them together within the tool. It allowed for hotspot links, transitions that mimicked an app and comments to get that feedback required from clients and your team.
At one point Invision connected with usertesting.com which made it super simple to recruit users who recorded their tests based on a script that you provided. This made it so easy to find the type of users you were looking for and quickly get feedback on your latest design iteration. Along with the a plugin called ‘Craft’ which they provided, you were able to go from design file to prototype and user test within minutes.
However, with tools like Figma, Sketch and Adobe XD providing more of these functions within their products, there really isn’t a need for it. I’ll continue to keep up with what Invision is doing in this space, but I feel like they’ve somewhat dropped out of the race.
Other highly recommended design apps include:
- Origami Studio
No doubt these tools will change within the next year, but for now these tools are what’s working during my process. Let me know in the comments which tools you love.