The best web and mobile app prototyping tools for 2017

The Best Web and Mobile App Prototyping Tools for 2017

Click here for my updated review on the best prototyping tool for 2018

Over the past couple of months, I’ve downloaded most prototyping tools out there and tried them for various projects, in order to see how they stack up against my two favorite prototyping tools: Keynote (Mac) and PowerPoint (PC).
And since I’ve previously worked as a software engineer, a product manager, a UX designer, and a startup entrepreneur, my goal was to evaluate those prototyping tools for different perspectives, and find out which one is best for which role and tasks.

Here are my findings.

Axure RP

Axure is a great tool for UX professionals. You can create wireframes and interactive prototypes, export them to the web, and share them with your team and clients. It excels as a tool for creating product requirements and specification documents, which is why it’s loved by UX professionals working in large enterprises.

Two similar tools to Axure, which came as second runner-ups, are OmniGraffle (Mac) and JustinMind (Mac/PC)

Platform: Windows/Mac

Difficulty level: difficult to learn/master

Output quality: medium fidelity

Price: $495 or $29/month

 

Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a mockup tool for creating interactive interfaces that look hand-sketched. It comes with a nice library of icons and UI components. You can create links between interface screens to add interactivity, and share the mockups with others.

Platform: Windows/Mac

Difficulty level: easy

Output quality: low fidelity

Price: $89 or $12-$199/month

 

Invision

Invision is a great tool for uploading ready-made UI screens, creating hyperlinks to make them interactive, then sharing them with others to get feedback and start discussions around them. The web app works well with tools like Photoshop and Sketch, which makes it ideal for user interface designers.

Two other tools that are similar to Invision, and that came in as second runner-ups are Flinto and Marvel

Platform: Web

Difficulty level: easy

Output quality: Depends on the screens uploaded

Price: $15-$99/month (plus $99/year for Sketch, or $240/year for Photoshop)

 

Keynote

Keynote isn’t just a presentation tool, it’s also a great prototyping tool. You can layout UI screens as slides, link them together to make them interactive, create animations, and export and test them on mobile devices. With Keynotopia UI kits, you can make great looking prototypes in a couple of hours. The prototype below was created in Keynote in less than 1 hour.

Platform: Mac/Web (you can use the iCloud version)

Difficulty level: easy (Everyone knows how to create a presentation!)

Output quality: High fidelity

Price: FREE (Plus $49-$97 for Keynote UI Prototyping Kit)

 

PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a second favorite of mine for a rapid prototyping and wireframing tool, since it’s got most of the features in Keynote, and it works on both Mac and PC.  Similar to Keynote, you can lay out UI screens as slides, create links to add interactivity, add animations, then export for web or preview on mobile devices. Below is a quick video that shows how to create a prototype with PowerPoint using the PowerPoint UI Bundle

Platform: Mac/PC

Difficulty level: easy (Everyone knows how to create a presentation!)

Output quality: High fidelity

Price: $95 (Plus $49-$97 for PowerPoint UI Prototyping Kit)

 

POP


POP is a clever app: you can draw prototypes on paper or whiteboard, take pictures of those screens, then create links between them to test the idea quickly. It requires you to have basic sketching skills to draw the UI components and icons on paper.

Platform: iPhone/Web

Difficulty level: easy (If you know how to sketch)

Output quality: Low fidelity

Price: $Free-$48/month

 

Conclusion

If you’re a visual UI designer (or work with one), the combination of Sketch with Invision, Marvel or Flinto is ideal for you. If you’re a UX designer working in a large enterprise, Axure, OmniGraffle or JustinMind are great choices. And if you’re a freelance designer, product manager, software engineer, teacher or startup entrepreneur, then I highly recommend Keynote (Mac) or PowerPoint (PC). Both Keynote and PowerPoint allow you to create high fidelity prototypes fast and cheap, and you won’t need to learn any new tools to do so.