The best UI design tools will save you a lot of time and effort. Whether you’re building a basic wireframe or a full-blown prototype, these tools will help you get it done faster and more efficiently, eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel over and over again.
However, the question of which UI design tools are best used is debatable. A decade ago Sketch excelled, but since then a lot of new interesting contenders have appeared, and now it’s hard to know where to turn. To be clear, we have selected the 10 absolute best user interface design tools available today.
If you just need to create wireframes, then MockFlow is one of the best UI design tools out there. It’s great for working on initial ideas and allows you to quickly create basic layouts, which is sometimes all you need to get your thoughts into a presentable shape. For single users, there is a good free plan to help you get started, while the paid plans come with advanced features, collaboration and sharing tools.
If quick framing is what you’re looking for, then Balsamiq is a great option. You can quickly and easily develop structure and layouts for your projects. Drag and drop elements make life easier and you can link buttons to other pages. This means you can quickly start planning your interfaces and then share them with your team or clients. There is no free plan, but a 30-day free trial is available.
Axure has long been one of the best UI design tools on the market and is great for more complex projects that require dynamic data. With Axure, you can focus on mocking up projects that are more technical and require more attention to structure and data. Please note that there are Windows and Mac versions of Axure, but no web version, and no free version.
04. Adobe Comp
Adobe Comp is the best UI design tool for anyone creating and conceptualizing on the go. Do you have an iPad or similar tablet with a Smart Pencil? If inspiration catches up with you on the road, this app will let you develop a new concept on the bus, train, plane, or just sitting on a park bench.
The app is free to download and use: you just need an Adobe ID, which can also be set up for free. However, if you pay for Creative Cloud, you’ll get even more out of it, as it can easily connect you to all your assets – photos, colors, brushes, shapes, fonts, text styles and graphics.
Since its introduction in 2010, Sketch has quickly become the go-to user interface design app for professionals around the world. And while many competitors have slowly reclaimed its market share since then, its dominance as the industry standard remains strong to this day.
Sketch allows you to create high-end interfaces and prototypes and preview them instantly on mobile devices. One of the great features is Symbols, where you can create reusable assets and UI elements. It helps to build design systems and keep interfaces consistent. After that, you can easily export your design to a clickable prototype.
Please note that Sketch only works on Mac and there is no free version, although there is a free trial. Previously, Sketch could be purchased for a one-time fee, but has now moved to a subscription model that costs $9.99 per month.
Proto.io allows you to create realistic prototypes from rough ideas to full-fledged designs right in the browser. It provides many options for your projects, including detailed animation and custom vector animation. You can start by developing initial ideas in a hand-drawn style, then turn them into wireframes and finish with a high-quality prototype.
Originally designed for prototyping on mobile devices, Proto.io has expanded to allow users to prototype apps for anything that has a screen interface, including smart TVs, digital camera interfaces, cars, aircraft, and game consoles.
The Sketch and Photoshop plugins really help if you want to design with other tools, but Proto.io handles the end-to-end design process well. Other features such as user testing will also help validate your projects. Please note that there is no free plan, but a 15-day free trial is available without providing credit card details.
07. Adobe XD
Released in 2016, Adobe XD quickly became popular among designers and now rivals Sketch as the industry standard for digital prototyping. While each app has many advantages over the other, the main advantage XD has over Sketch is that it works on both Windows and Mac.
If you’re an avid Adobe user and using XD for the first time, the interface may not look very similar to Adobe’s – if you’ve been using Photoshop for a long time, then you’ll have to level up. But it’s on par with other leading tools and well worth it if you’re a big Adobe fan.
XD is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud collection of design tools, but there’s also a limited free version, or you can subscribe to the full version as a standalone app.
Marvel is another great choice for quick ideation and UI tweaks. Focused on rapid prototyping, testing, and handover to modern design teams, it offers a really neat way to build pages and lets you model designs with a prototype. There are also some great integrations, which means you can embed your projects into the project workflow.
Figma is another browser-based platform that allows you to quickly compose and design interfaces. It also has mobile apps and desktop apps for Windows and Mac.
The Figma platform prides itself on being a collaborative design tool where multiple users can work on a project at the same time. This is very effective when the project involves several stakeholders who take part in shaping the result. This is the tool that is ideal if you have a live project where, for example, a developer, copywriter and designer have to work on something at the same time.
Described as an “end-to-end” UX platform, UXPin is essentially a user interface design tool that also has the powerful ability to create design systems. It’s a great choice for large design teams that need to work with the same styles and guidelines, saving time in product development when collaboration plays a big role.