It is not a secret that design is no less important than overall app functionality. All users appreciate intuitive and visually pleasing solutions, and that is why app owners tend to pay special attention to creating design.
Logos, icons, wireframes,mockups and other graphical elements are crucial if your goal is to create a simple and yet eye-catching design. We have already covered the topic related to the process of designing an app and creating all visual components. Should you be interested, you can find it here.
It is also necessary to emphasize that having a great vision and concept is not enough. You need to avoid numerous common designing mistakes. So it is highly recommended to use a reliable tool able to help you visualize all desired graphical elements and screens, and check out how everything is going to look in the end.Therefore in this article we would like to discuss top 3 tools that can help you with prototyping, what features they should have and how to choose the right one.
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What features should be in a good prototyping tool?
First thing you will have to do before you start designing your app will be a search for a tool in which you or your team of designers can visualize it. And finding the right one may not be an easy task taking into account how many of those are on the market. So what should you choose?
A paid solution or a free one? What features would you need the most? These and a dozen of other questions will immediately appear in your head when you start your app designing journey. But do not worry, we can help you with the selection of the best possible tool. Based on our experience we have created a list of must-have features that a good prototyping solution needs to offer. Here they are:
- Selection of device types and orientation – this will let you check out how your design is going to look on different devices, if it fits different screens or maybe it needs some crucial adjustments. Among supported devices should be mobile phones (iOS and Android ones), wearable devices, tablets and desktops in case you are designing a web application.
- Supported gestures – the main ones that may be useful are swipes, double taps and pinches. You can check out how your app will look and function with the design you’ve created.
- Variety of sharing options – it may be necessary to share your designs with the other team members, so it is great to have different options when it comes to this. The most convenient ones are via email, URL, SMS, by publishing or embedding in Medium, WordPress.
- Number of available transitions – one can always make a good use of slides (right, left, up and down), flips, pushes, dissolving and flowing.
- Uploading options – to be able to sync your design to a Dropbox or any other cloud service is a must. This will allow you to keep various versions of the design and compare them if needed.
It is also preferable to pay attention to the pricing options, sometimes the tools that offer costly subscriptions may lack some crucial options that are present in free or more affordable programs. So first of all check out what features this or that prototyping tool offers and then buy a subscription plan.
Correctly selected solutions may help you to reduce your project costs and overall development time. If a designer has everything that is needed at his hands then the end result can be provided much faster.
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The best 3 prototyping tools we’d recommend
We’ve been developing solutions and creating designs for 9+ years and we can say that we’ve tested a lot of tools during that time. So when it comes to recommending the best one, you can really trust our expert opinion. We can name a lot of good designing tools related to prototyping, but today we’d like to discuss in detail 3 particular ones: InVision, Marvel and Flinto Lite.
This is by far the most reliable and convenient tool our designers have ever worked with. We are still using InVision for prototyping and sharing the results with our clients. So here are some real reasons why we like Invision so much:
- It lets us establish a smooth workflow. As you know, software development consists of numerous processes. So it is crucial to preserve timeframes and make sure that all processes are under control. Thanks to InVision it is possible to assign statuses to the projects, send alerts right when some changes were applied to the project, set desired dates and to-do tasks.
- It has integration with other services. Let’s take Slack – our team uses it for more effective communication between all members. So it is crucial to have an ability to integrate all tools with Slack and luckily InVision is able to do this. Here is how it works – we select a channel to which info about all design changes will be sent. Once our designers altered the project, we can see the notifications about it in Slack.
- Convenient and fast commenting options. Sometimes a couple of specialists work upon a project and they can generate creative ideas on the go. So for us it is crucial to have a commenting option where you can either write or paint right on the prototype, or add personal comments from your name so that other people can see your email. InVision offers such an option and with it we can always alter and discuss projects on every designing stage without any efforts.
The feature set of InVision is quite impressive and you will likely stay with this app for a long time. It supports numerous devices, gestures and transitions. It is possible to upload prototyping results to cloud storages. There are also several pricing plans depending on your project needs and variety of options you might need to use.
#2 Flinto Lite
Flinto Lite is one more great tool you may need for prototyping. It has all necessary features and allows you to check the way your app will be really looking after it’s designed. Flinto Lite is a very convenient, user-friendly and affordable tool. We would definitely recommend trying it out if you are still searching for a perfect designing tool for your team. Here are some nice options you may benefit from:
- Easy to use and comprehend. Some designers do not like Flinto Lite because it is “too simple” for their purposes. Yes, this tool really has a limited number of options, but it is perfect for small projects (especially if you are limited in time and resources). Those basic features will let you create a good looking design in no time. No complications, no tangled actions – even the junior designer will easily handle this tool.
- Variety of sharing methods for user testing. It is easier than even to share a ready prototype via email, URL or even SMS. The person will receive a notification and can check the results on the go which is very convenient especially if you are working with busy clients.
- Paper prototyping. You take photos of your paper prototypes and the tool turns them into sketches that you can further adjust, change and improve. You simply take pictures, upload them to your machine and to Flinto Lite. And that is it
Although Flinto Lite is great, some designers may really need more advanced tools with a wide variety of options. So not every team can stop on this tool and may need to incorporate some other side solutions which are not really handy.
It seems like Marvel has taken the functionality of Flinto Lite and added some more cool options to make their solution more advanced. And this tool has really a lot to offer. Just imagine a tool with sketching opton, fully customizable layering of features, ability to create collaborations, support of numerous gestures and devices. Y, all these things are present in one tool that is still intuitive,easy to use and understand.
What else is so great about Marvel prototyping tool? Just these things:
- Sketching plugin. If your designers are used to working with Sketch apps, then this solution will be your real life savior. Why? Simply because it allows to import all sketches effortlessly. You use the plugin and make your prototypes better in no time.
- Impressive image layering. The interactions have never been so realistic! With all customization options the designers can make really advanced solutions with interesting layers positions, backgrounds, and opacities.
- Hotspots for linking screens. You can add multiple hotspots easily, duplicate them to numerous screens, create templates and perform easy navigation. This is a great option that all professional designers need and it is not overcomplicated in this tool.
Whatever solution you are building you should pay special attention to its design and make sure that it is created using the right tools. Because if the prototyping is complicated and requires a lot of time, this can prolong the delivery of your app.
There are many good prototyping programs on the market that have different feature sets and prices. But it is always better to choose the most recommended and proven ones. Whatever tool you will select. Its effectiveness will depend on the professionalism of the designers you are working with.
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