Looking to build an application?
You’ve got the idea, you have a strategy, you did your homework on the market and audience, but what of the application’s UI?
Design after all is the most crucial phase to any mobile application’s development and the UI can either make it or break it.
Believe it or not, as an app developer user experience should top your priority list. A dynamic design not only leaves a powerful impact on your user engagement but it also increases conversion rates and revenues.
There are numerous design tools out there in the market, from sketching the wireframes to building the prototypes for your apps, and giving them life.
Listed below are some of the best app design tools in the market to cater to your needs. Have an in-depth look at their pros and cons to select the best tool to take your app’s design to the next level.
Need a collaborative tool to create mockups of your wireframes?
Well, Invision is not only a workflow platform, but also an amazing tool for prototyping and team collaboration. It may be one of the best features it has to offer. While it allows you to work individually without any nuisance, you can easily communicate with your team of designers. This is especially useful for getting ideas, suggestions, feedback, and the like quickly.
You can transform your static app designs into full-fledged prototypes dynamic in nature.
Here’s a more interesting fact, you can also animate your prototypes by adding effects like gestures and transitions for both Android and iOS apps, in some scenarios; the responsive web apps.
Some of its bigger clients are Netflix, HBO, IBM, Sephora, Ebay and more.
Main features of InVision are:
- Mockups sharing and presentation
- Project management (for designers)
- Real-time meetings
- Research and user testing
- Feedback and commenting
- Team organization and collaboration
- Let’s you integrate images or sketches in your prototypes with drag and drop feature
- Hassle-free design and prototyping
- Good support system on collecting feedback.
- Clean interface for real-time sharing and commenting on prototypes
- A user friendly interface
- Not only is it pricey but allows limited actions (yearly plan being $22 / month)
- Customer support services is limited as well
- Slow as a snail
- Not good enough for wireframing
- Somewhat complicated and requires a learning curve
- More good for adding interactivity to designs than designing
2. Adobe XD
If agility is something you desire in designing or creating prototypes, then Adobe XD is a good option, because not only does it let you design but also share user interfaces and experiences. With Adobe XD it’s smooth sailing for digital projects under its Creative Cloud suite. Moreover, it’s industry standard. If you’re new to Adobe’s XD however, you may find it’s interface different from the regular adobe. However, it’s in competition with the leading design tools in the market.
Main features are:
- You can create vector designs and do wireframing
- Offers voice prototyping
- Includes drawing tools too
- Offers non-static interactions and mobile and desktop previews
- Lets you share tools, give feedback on designs
- Gives you a device-specific artboard to start a project
- XD integrates with Creative Cloud
- Let’s you import any UI kit, for example Google’s Material Design
- A clean interface
- With its repeat grid feature you don’t have to copy-paste or Ctrl+D things, just select the group and adjust the grid when you want to replicate
- You can fill the UI by dragging and dropping content
- Saves time and energy – If you are in the web design industry, you’re most likely already an Adobe user
- With entire suite and integration you don’t have to pay for another software
- Works best on PCs and lets you design for PCs
- Adobe XD even supports UX design
- Originally, it wasn’t created for UI/UX design
- Subscription on a monthly basis, somewhat costly
- Some say it isn’t as mature as Sketch and InVision
- It’s very difficult to share with clients or colleagues
Hands down one of the best and most easy going interface design tools, what’s more, it lets you collaborate with your team of designers in real-time. This is especially helpful if you’re working alongside multiple contributors.
It’s available in the browser, however, you can also download it for Windows, Mac or Linux, and there are both free and paid versions depending on what you use it for.
Figma has already replaced Invision, Sketch and Zeplin and has been widely used by big companies like Uber, Microsoft, Slack, Braintree and more.
Main features are:
- Scale your design to fit the parent frame
- Four formulas: union, intersect, subtract and exclude, lets you combine any set or number of shape layers with accuracy
- Interactive 60fps editing
- Pixel-perfect image previews
- Easy and simple in use
- Great tool for wireframing and prototyping
- Cloud-based storage
- Has all basic vector need
- Zeplin integration
- Has almost all the XD tools
- The app freezes during any medium to rigid task
- Hogs all of your RAM
Figma may have replaced Sketch too for some, however it is still some big companies’ like Google, Apple, Facebook, Nintendo’s sweetheart.
So what makes it so great? First off, its vector-based design tool which focuses on screen design. Many mobile app designers and developers use Sketch to design epic user interfaces for varying smart devices. With Sketch it’s plain sailing. It offers a torrent of easy-to-use but powerful tools allowing both beginners and professionals to design at their best.
Main features are:
- Grids and guides (let you place and move around the objects)
- Symbols (to create icons, avatars as well as other design elements)
- Vector editing
- Collaboration platform
- Code export
- Can be integrated with Jira Cloud, Zeplin and more
- Offering the essential web designer tools ( it’s a12MB in comparison to Photoshop CS5, that is 412MB)
- No font-rendering woes, it stays the same on web
- You can design elements like icons etc and reuse them
- Collaboration platform
- The export codes let you refine and use your creations in other apps
- Built-in grids
- Autosave and multiple artboards
- Device-mirroring (you can mirror your designs on devices to test how they look)
- Can slow down your machine
- Doesn’t let you create permanent colour palettes
- Learning curve makes you throw yourself out of your comfort zone
- Some say it isn’t user-friendly however, to each its own
5. Marvel App
If you’re taking baby steps and need to give your idea or concept a tangible form then Marvel is your go to app. 5
This mobile app design platform was created for everyone, not just app developers or designers. Hence, it’s simplicity and user-friendly interface. You can create first-rate prototypes or mockups without hassle.
Some of its users include IBM, Buzzfeed, Deliveroo, Stripe, and more.
Main features are:
- Lets you create wireframes and mockups
- Lets you design website or app prototypes from your browser
- Lets you sync designs from other apps like Sketch
- You can design as well as test and scale
- Lets you collaborate with your team
- Lets you download assets or generate Android XML, CSS, and Swift codes for your prototypes
- Easier to setup and work on
- User-friendly interface
- Cloud-based prototyping and wireframing
- Offers Plugins for sketch and photoshop
- Lets you share the URL in a single click, interested people can easily view it in their browsers
- Costly and trial only allows 2 projects per user
- Doesn’t work offline
- You can’t animate mockup screens (isn’t the end of the world although)
Judgement: Which is better?
All the above discussed mobile app designing tools have pros and cons. What I’m trying to put out here is that each tool offers something that is better for a certain stage of design process.
There is no one best all-in-one tool when it comes to UI/UX design. Whether it’s Sketch, Figma, InVision, or Adobe, they all catapult the strong and the weak points. To reach the best decision, do your research and take time to try them out.
Humans are unique, so are tools. Different tools work best for different people, so be confident and experiment all you want. Better yet take a walk through YouTube tutorials before you pick the one best suited to you.