January 5, 2021
5 min read
To deliver a product both usable and appealing, UI/UX designers always have to keep a keen eye on different tools for designing, wireframing, prototyping and user testing. Like any modern technology, these solutions keep evolving and offering new features to try out.
When choosing a tool, UI/UX designers have to take into consideration the following things: the project’s ultimate goal, team’s size, their skills, platform and toolset already being used. To cut the frills, we’ve handpicked some of the best UI/UX design tools in 2021. Discover which of them can be fitting for your product and design team.
OS: Browser-based platform that runs on all standard operating systems.
Pricing: Free Starter package, $12 per editor/month (Professional), $45 per editor/month (Organization)
Why pick: A full-blown collaborative tool for building interface design, prototyping and handoff
Figma is our favorite UI/UX pick for multiple reasons, but in particular because of how easy it makes real-time collaboration with your team. With this software, several UI/UX designers can work on a project from start to finish in real-time and get clients’ feedback right away. This feature is especially useful if you’re working with an offshore design team.
While Figma is cloud software and it’s simple to get started with it because it runs basically on any platform. Other advantages of Figma include a robust design prototypes and plugins bundle, design file embedding, Zeplin and Framer integration and much more. Figma also boasts of a vibrant community with thousands of wireframes, prototypes and reusable components available for every participant.
OS: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: A free Starter package plus two major pricing plans, Individual and Business with various offers.
Why pick: A powerful platform perfect for UI/UX designers working with other Adobe products
Adobe XD often finds itself neck and neck with Sketch when it comes to naming the most popular UI/UX software. Unlike Sketch, Adobe XD runs on both macOS and Windows and has mobile iOS and Android versions to preview designs on a smartphone. The tool allows users to import files from other software (including Sketch) and nimbly build and coedit mockups, prototypes, responsive designs, reusable components, etc. In a nutshell, Adobe XD has you covered at every step of the design process.
Adobe XD is a reliable solution with very few drawbacks. One of the cons is the lack of access to several useful features when using the free version.
OS: macOS, Windows
Pricing: A free 30-day trial, $25/month per user (Pro), $42/month per user (Team), customizable (Enterprise)
Why pick: Fits projects that require advanced wireframing and prototyping
Axure is one of the top-ranked solutions for building UI layouts for websites and mobile apps as it has both the tools and ready-to-use components for wireframing. Other advantages of Axure include adaptable views, a widget library, coediting, a pen tool for vector drawing, etc. Axure also has its cloud solution, Axure Cloud.
Axure is a better pick for seasoned UI/UX designers and requires some time to get acquainted with due to not-so-intuitive design and an array of complex tools.
OS: Web, macOS, Windows
Pricing: A free 30-day trial, $9/month (2 Projects), $49/month (20 Projects), $199/month (200 Projects)
Why pick: A tool designed specifically for fast low-fidelity wireframing
It’s hard to beat Balsamiq at what it does best — low-fidelity wireframing. The software makes UI designs accessible for everyone and focuses on the content layout. With its drag-and-drop elements and keyboard shortcuts, generating and implementing new ideas in Balsamiq is very simple, as well as sharing them with other team members. You can also change the Balsamiq mockups rather quickly thus accelerating the sketching of mockup versions.
Since Balsamiq is geared towards low-fidelity wireframing and may perform slower when processing complex prototypes, you may want to consider other options for high-fidelity wireframes.
Pricing: Free, $8.25/month (Pro), $27/month (Team), $110/month (Agency)
Why pick: Mapping out user-friendly sitemaps
FlowMapp lays out your users’ future journey through intuitive sitemaps allowing other members of your design team to work together on the project. The software helps you build User Flow diagrams, set up sitemaps for website planning, create personas of your potential target audience, manage your progress, etc.
Another badge in FlowMapp’s favor is its integration with Slack. As for the cons, this UX tool doesn’t work for prototyping.
OS: Web, macOS, iOS, Android
Pricing: Free, $20/month per user (Pro), customizable (Enterprise)
Why pick: Advanced animation technology
Framer markets itself as the best tool for teams to create and coedit high-fidelity designs and immersive prototypes. One of the most notable features of this solution is a motion library for React known as Framer Motion. With this library, you can write less code. Another amazing feature is Auto-Code Animation that writes code while you’re working on your design.
OS: macOS, Windows
Pricing: Free, $7.95 per user/month (Professional), customized (Enterprise)
Why pick: A great digital product design solution appreciated by the world’s top companies.
InVision is a whole design ecosystem taking pride in being used by the Fortune 100. The platform includes such UI/UX tools as Cloud, Craft, Studio, etc. InVision provides designers with solutions for collaboration, prototyping, animation, creating detailed specs, UI screens testing and more. What is more, InVision has integrations with major project management tools like JIRA and design solutions like Photoshop. Another big advantage of the software is the number of InVision tutorials that help designers catch up with all its features.
One of the few drawbacks of InVision is that it still takes some time to learn all its possibilities and wireframing can prove to be a little more tricky than with other UI/UX tools.
Why pick: A lightweight yet powerful Sketch alternative
Lunacy is a new AI-supported UI/UX software native to Windows. Its main focus is vector design (also it works with raster files too). Lunacy is a so-called Sketch alternative - you can open and edit Sketch files without worrying about platform compatibility. The tool claims to be faster than both Figma and Sketch.
While Lunacy has many superb graphic assets it’s still a work-in-the-progress. Since it’s in the early stages of development, you won’t find here collaboration options and advanced animation features.
Pricing: Free, from $12 (Pro) to $84/month (Team Plus), customizable (Enterprise)
Why pick: Simple and fast platform suitable for both design novices and gurus.
Presenting itself as a platform right in your browser, Marvel is a purely online intuitive UI/UX tool for web and mobile designs that is extremely easy to use. It also can be integrated with various project management and product design tools, including Figma and Sketch. Marvel allows UI/UX designers to design without coding, build low and hi-fidelity wireframes and prototypes. It also has an excellent handoff tool.
However, Marvel has some serious limitations. You can’t access it offline, open several boards at once or use it for complex animations.
Pricing: A free 30-day trial, $99 (Individual), $9 per member/month (Teams)
Why pick: One of the most trusted design solutions in the world with an enormous library of plugins
Sketch is one of the most renowned tools for UI/UX designers. The solution with pixel-perfect tools, Sketch offers a shared cloud workspace for the whole design team, simple code exports, wireframing, prototyping and even gif creation.
The best thing about Sketch, however, is a massive plugin library created by its community. For instance, some plugins help you create documents in React and use them in Sketch. Without plugins, Sketch isn’t a suitable tool for those designers who’re looking for sophisticated solutions. Another con is that Sketch may clog up your hard drive due to its autosave function and it’s only available for macOS.
Each design project is unique and requires inspiration, creativity and the right UI/UX tools. There are many different software you can choose and with each year all these options get more advanced. To choose the one that fits you most, make sure that your pick is based on the following three things: usability, integration and collaboration. Sometimes it’s not the latest features that become the key factor, but the software compatibility with your needs and, most importantly, your design team.
Develop and scale your amazing software product with Satellite. We help you build a dedicated development team that works as a natural extension of your company.