Prototyping tools are not only purpose-built or definitive solutions by themselves. Leading UI/UX design tools have built-in functionality acting as a rapid prototyping tool. For everything hi-fi prototyping and beyond, a specialized prototyping tool is the best way to bring your designs to life, and since Figma is one of the greatest design tools that exist today, this article will describe it along with other elite tools. That way, you can combine them and become better than ever at designing.
These are the top 4 all-in-one UI design tools available on the market today. We will see how they compare to each other as both complete design tools and prototyping tools. For a deeper dive, we can factor in connectivity to other solutions. This is a great way to measure a solution's flexibility.
Figma: the Top Design App
Figma is an all-in-one design tool built as a collaborative platform. It can handle everything from wireframing to hi-fi prototyping and developer hand-off. Doing web design or app building, Figma is a staple name in the industry and the most popular UI design solution. The solution excels as a UI design tool and allows for a great rapid prototyping experience.
Figma is a pillar in the industry for low-barrier-to-entry prototyping tools for simple jobs. The solution is pick-up and plays, providing key UI prototyping functionality such as the following. Design, which lets you build amazing website designs and make the most of cutting-edge UI prototyping tools; productivity tools, which are time-saving prototyping tools such as Auto Layout and Plugins, to simple interactions and click-throughs.
Then, we count on design systems that keep all your assets in one simple and searchable place, creating expansive design systems that speed up iterating and improve collaboration
Also, you have collaborative tools. FigJam is one part of the great collaboration tools Figma has put in place.
With all this great functionality, it is no wonder that Figma is the primary UI prototyping tool for 81% of core Figma users.
As prototypes grow in complexity, prototyping tools that work well for simple prototypes can start to struggle. For the more complex, multi-screen, and multi-interaction prototypes, you can combine solutions. It is easier to improve the prototyping process rather than replace the UI design tool.
2 Top Design Tools to combine With Figma
In this section, we will present some of the best design tools that you can combine with Figma to do higher-quality designs.
An inVision is a prototyping tool offering a simple approach to web-based prototyping. If you are looking to build low-fidelity prototypes or straightforward designs, it can do an amazing job. The low learning curve was always appreciated by users, allowing the UI designer to make quick screen-to-screen designs with a limited number of actions and transitions.
This prototyping tool’s shortfalls were more development and back-end functionality related. The updates simply did not come quickly enough. And with innovative solutions such as Figma and ProtoPie breaking onto the scene, InVision’s users lost patience.
InVision is still a good prototyping tool for what it does, and the integrations with Sketch make it a great pairing if you’re using macOS. But even this process through the Craft plugin is not as seamless as other solutions, such as pairing Figma with ProtoPie or even using ProtoPie’s Sketch plugin. Simple things like showing how one screen flows to the next work, but as soon as interactions multiply, InVision loses steam.
If you are a macOS user running Sketch instead of Figma and building simple designs with single interactions between screens, then InVision is a great solution. But outside of this niche case, it seems like what was once an industry giant, is fast losing momentum. The most recent figures have InVision mainly used as a secondary tool, whereas Figma and Adobe XD are the main daily drivers.
The industry is shifting from simplicity to more complex designs, requiring cutting-edge prototyping tools that can rapidly build realistic prototypes that represent the end product. This is clearly illustrated by the rise of solutions such as ProtoPie and Framer, which when used in tandem with a UI prototyping tool like Figma, can make magic happen.
For a long period preceding the rapid rise of Figma, Sketch was the go-to UI design tool for macOS users. The platform exclusivity allowed the developers to build a solid design and UI prototyping tool that worked almost flawlessly on macOS devices.
Where Adobe XD has gone for the horizontal UI design, Sketch shares Figma’s vertical approach to UI, leaving designers feeling at home switching between the two design tools. Sketch stands out with its simple approach to hierarchy, at the top you have pages, which contain artboards, containing layers. Figma is more versatile with its nested frames approach, essentially allowing users to separate key components such as headers, footers, and menus.
Collaborations are a vital part of any product design process, with multiple stakeholders involved from initial ideation to developer handoff. Sketch used to be an awful solution for collaborating between team members. Thankfully they have turned this around, and launched 2021 their real-time collaboration functionality, making it a UI design tool that can finally take on Figma and Adobe XD in a larger team environment.
Sketch’s collaboration tool allows for real-time invitation-based collaboration during the design process. Furthermore, their shared libraries provide everyone with synchronized access to the same content, in real-time. Sketch goes one step further and offers a free developer tool allowing developers to get what they need for free. From inspecting ongoing prototyping to downloading assets in a click, the developer handoff has been streamlined.
As a pure UX prototyping tool, Sketch holds its own against Adobe XD and Figma. Create overlays and simple interactions between different artboards by using links and hotspots to create your UX journey. Combining Sketch with InVision through the Craft app improves the pair's potential as an all-in-one design and prototyping tool.
If you want your upcoming designs to stand out, then you are going to have to start combining these major design apps. It is up to you to find out which collaboration works best for you.