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Our Top 9 UX Design tools & how you can use them

Our Top 9 UX Design tools & How you can use them
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UX Design tools and other treasures you’ll find in this article

Why UX Design tools are lifesavers

As one of the most dynamic and in-demand careers today, UX designers have a wide range of responsibilities from product and user research to creating wireframes, prototyping and finally product testing. Wondering how they manage to stay on top of it all?

Luckily there are a number of handy tools in a UX designer’s toolbox. They can help them save a significant amount of time, money and… lots of frustration. 

The problem is, there are hundreds of tools out there. But, not to worry! We asked our expert UX design instructors which tools they absolutely could not live without. 

Here are the top 9 UX tools that made the cut:

Pop – a UX Design tool for prototyping on paper

Definitely one of the coolest tools on the list (especially for UX design newbies) is Prototyping on Paper or simply POP

Have a great design idea but don’t want to spend tons of time building a full prototype? With Pop, you can simply sketch your ideas by hand on a piece of paper. Then use the app to take a photo of each potential wireframe. Finally, in the app, you can then link the photos to create an interactive prototype. When you’re done, you can easily share the mockup with clients or team members online.

The main benefits here:

  • is that it doesn’t require any technical skills
  • it’s a fast and easy way to get feedback on your designs in the early-stage prototyping or ideation phase

The price isn’t too bad either. Start by testing it out with one project for free. If you like it, upgrade to the Pro plan for €10/month to access unlimited projects. 

UserTesting & UsabilityHub

User testing is one of the most important parts of the design process. Imagine you come up with a great new app that you think will solve all your users’ problems. But, once you’ve rolled it out, you notice your retention rates are dropping off like crazy! 

That’s why testing … and even early prototypes can really help you create a smooth and seamless user experience from the start. 

Of course, the problem is:

  1. finding users who are willing to test out your new app or website
  2. collecting feedback in a format that’s organized and easy to analyze

That’s where UserTesting and UsabilityHub can help. Both platforms already have a pool of users ready to test your website or app. This means less time, faster turnaround and a potentially larger range of responses than if you were to carry out your own user testing. 

However, the two tools do this in very different ways.

UsabilityHub is best when you want fast feedback on specific aspects of your product, service or interface. The platform gives you four research options to choose from. You can create a:

  • First click test – Test interaction with first click and navigation tests.
  • Design survey – Feature designs and ask direct questions to participants.
  • Preference test – Test visual appeal with 2-6 alternative images.
  • Five second test – Test intelligibility by showing an image for five seconds.

You can then specify the user base you want to target based on demographics such as age, location, gender, income, etc. 

UsabilityHub starts at $1 per response (each minute a user spends taking one of your tests costs $1).

UserTesting, on the other hand, is better for more in-depth testing and feedback. Through their platform, you can create tasks for different projects you want to test. For example, you can ask users to go through the steps of purchasing various products on your new e-commerce website. Users then create videos taking you through the different steps they take to complete the task, whether it’s purchasing items in their shopping cart or reviewing the packaging of a product. 

UserTesting’s individual plan costs about $49 per session and can run up to 15 sessions per year. Meanwhile, pricing for their enterprise plan varies. 

Figma

Figma is an interface design platform that allows teams to collaborate on design projects in real-time. The tool is a one-stop-shop for everything from illustration to building prototypes to developer handover.  

Of course, the biggest benefit here is that collaboration happens seamlessly, without the mess of different files being shared, uploaded and lost. You can work simultaneously with a remote team or pick up where another designer left off. It also makes it easy to make on the spot adjustments during meetings with clients. This benefit really puts it ahead of other popular UI design tools like Sketch. 

The best part about Figma’s prototyping capabilities is that it doesn’t require any coding skills at all, making it a fast and easy option. The tool is also integrated with Slack and has link permission settings, allowing you to easily share files with other teams and clients. 

Figma has a free starter plan that allows for up to 2 editors and 3 projects. After that, you can upgrade to a professional plan for $12/month per editor or an organization plan for $45/month per editor. 

InVision

InVision is a tool that allows you to easily create interactive prototypes, without needing to write a single line of code. You can then share them with clients and team members to get feedback. 

While Figma also has prototyping functionality, as InVision was originally built specifically for this purpose, it has extra features and options including a number of hotspots, interactions, transitions, headers and overlays to choose from. This allows you to build a prototype that’s even closer to the real thing. When compared to Figma, it also boasts superior animation features. 

Since the creation of InVision Studio, users can now also create designs with the tool but most designers still prefer Figma for this as it allows them to work together on a project simultaneously. Collaboration on InVision is a bit of a clunkier process based on workflow tracking and comment based feedback. There also isn’t a web based version at the moment, instead you need to go through the native desktop app which is available for both Mac and Windows. 

A free plan is available for individuals and small teams with a pro-cross-collaborative team version starting from $7.95/month per user. 

Framer 

Framer is another prototyping tool but, unlike Figma and InVision, it’s based on a Javascript framework giving designers with coding expertise a broader scope of capabilities. 

This means Framer offers some interesting options that both Figma and Invision don’t, including the ability to adjust padding and override different elements, extra viewer comparison options and it also supports some native tools that make behaviour prototyping easier. 

The fact that it’s a code based tool also makes developer hand over a breeze. Because it’s browser based, any CSS code written for web based designs will be production ready. You can also choose from a number of CSS based border styles and use exporting presets to automatically resize your images for iOS or Android. 

In terms of pricing, they have a free plan which allows for unlimited viewers, 2 editors and up to 3 projects. The Pro plan is for larger and cross-functional teams and starts at $19/month per editor.

Zeplin – a UX Design tool that breaks down silos

Zeplin is a tool that’s all about improving collaboration. Designers, developers and product owners are all involved in building the same product, yet breaking down the silos between them is one of the biggest pains so many companies face.

That’s where Zeplin comes in. It’s a platform where designers can upload their designs from tools like Sketch, Figma and Invision Studio. Developers can then explore the different assets, icons, layers and elements that will be needed to create the actual product. They simply need to hover over the different sections to get important technical information and specs. Teams can also use notes to leave feedback or questions for each other on different parts of the design. 

The good news is, Figma and Zeplin can now be integrated. Just keep in mind that, unlike in Figma’s own code mode, changes you make to your design in Figma won’t be automatically updated, so you’ll need to re-export it each time.

You can already start your first project for free! After that, the pricing plans go up to $17/month for 3 projects, $26/month for 12 projects and $10.75/month per member for an unlimited plan. 

Carbonmade

Here’s something just for you. Carbonmade is an online portfolio you can use to showcase your work and attract clients. 

The great thing about this tool for designers is that, with tons of typefaces and gradients to choose from, you can really personalize it to fit your style. The layout is also based on premade blocks, instead of templates, meaning you get a higher degree of customization. It also provides HD video support and unlimited image and video uploads.

If you’re looking for your next career or hitting the freelance market, Carbonmade will also give you insights into how many people have been viewing your page and allow you to see which of your projects are most popular amongst your visitors. 

Domain and hosting are included. Pricing plans start from $8/month for 8 projects. 

Miro

Last but not least we have everyone’s favorite whiteboard platform, Miro. While this isn’t strictly a UX design tool, we love using it during our UX Design course as it provides a great way of collaborating with peers and colleagues remotely.

Start off by picking a board. You can pick an empty whiteboard or choose one of Miro’s special templates for brainstorming, retrospectives, customer journey mapping, strategic planning, etc. Then you can reshape boxes, add sticky notes, cards and lines to create a whiteboard that fits your needs. 

Like Figma, the nice thing about Miro is that all your team members can work on the same board in real-time. That means you can use it to gather ideas and share feedback with team members.

Miro has a free starter plan. Team plans then start at $8/month and business plans at $16/month. 

Check out these great templates you can use for the design thinking process. You can also read more about how UX designers actually use design thinking here

Interested in becoming a UX designer?

Our 12-Week UX Design course covers all of these tools and more to help you get started. Receive expert guidance and 1-on-1 coaching sessions from our team of instructors. Create a personal project that will help you showcase your work to potential employers. Check out our course page for more information. 

Do you have more specific questions about the course? Feel free to get in touch with one of our UX Design career consultants.

If you’re still wondering whether UX Design might be the right career choice for you, take this quiz and find out.

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