best UI design tools

Entering the world of UI design can be quite confusing. Choosing the UI design tool that best suits your needs is one of the essential decisions for any project. To save you time, here are the features of the best UI design software around (updated for 2020). It can help users make the right call in choosing one for their project.

1. Figma

Figma is a browser-based, cloud-hosted design platform. As such, it’s available on virtually any device or operating system. Developers can use it both for prototyping and UI design.

It was among the first design platforms that embraced the collaborative principle. It allows teams of people to work on the same project. There is no need to constantly send each other different versions so they can keep up.

It also has an embedded commenting system. The version history shows who made which changes.

With Figma, it’s possible to create flexible styles which you can save and reuse when necessary. Users can gain access to the built-in image databases. The existing templates significantly speed up the design process too.

The open type font feature allows the designers to use a wide range of different fonts. They will be properly displayed on any device without messing up the layout of the rest of the project.

Without the need to install anything, Figma is a perfect tool for the designers on the go. You can develop software prototyping and UI design in the same program, at any time. Projects can be easily exported via a live link. This makes the communication between the client and the designer all the simpler.

Figma offers a free plan. It’s only restricted by the number of contributors (two on the same project) and to three projects at the time. Version history is also limited to one month.

The professional plan comes at $15 per month per contributor. It offers an unlimited version history and an unlimited number of projects. Other useful features include a shareable team library and invite-only projects.

The organisation plan is the most expensive at $45 per month per contributor. It is only available on a yearly rate. It offers all the features brought by the professional plan and a few more. You get a single sign-on feature. It also offers advanced security and plugin administration.

2. Mockflow

Mockflow is a suite of applications that fit a range of design needs. The WireframePro app is a neat prototyping tool. It’s useful for the early stages of project development. That’s when designers need to test out several ideas. It’s ideal for quick solutions and first drafts.

There are a few different plans available including a free one. The basic (free) plan, naturally, comes with a couple of restrictions. You can only work on one UI project at a time. The project is limited to maximum three pages. The reviewers are also limited to two.

The premium plan comes at $14 per month, billed annually. It offers a wide array of convenient features. You can have an unlimited number of UI projects, with an unlimited version history. It’s also available to any number of reviewers and comes with an offline mode. The premium plan also offers access to MockStore UI libraries.

The teampack plan costs $29 per month, billed annually. It comes with all the amenities of the premium plan. It offers a few other features. They include up to 3 co-editors per project and UI guidelines and approvals. You also get advanced power-ups.

The most expensive enterprise plan comes at a monthly fee of $160 per month. It allows up to 50 users and multiple project admins, along with all the features of the teampack plan. It also offers remote UI presentations and HD video conferences. You also have the possibility to archive projects.

3. Axure

Axure is a design tool primarily focused on to structure and data. It’s more suited to complex projects requiring a lot of attention to the technical aspects of the design. However, it does have a vector-based pen tool, along with all the other tools needed for a sleek UI design.

Unfortunately, Axure doesn’t offer a free plan, but its plans are quite well equipped for any design needs. They all have an excellent support system. It includes tutorials, file debugging and email support service. The support service responds within one (business) day. File debugging can be especially valuable during actual software development.

It also offers Sketch and Adobe XD integration. This is great if you need to work on different platforms, as well as widget libraries.

Axure RP9 Pro plan is the most basic one. It comes at $29 per user per month. It offers unlimited prototypes and reviewers, as well as up to 1000 projects on cloud.

Axure RP9 Team plan costs $49 per user per month. It’s very well suited for mid-size businesses. It offers several useful features, along with everything available in the Pro plan. Some of the best features in the team plan are co-authoring and revision history. They are incredibly useful for a larger number of contributors. It also offers team project hosting on its cloud that also helps in team communication.

The Axure for Enterprise plan is the largest one available. It offers everything in the Team plan. It comes with several other features.  They include unlimited projects, user management and single sign-on. It also comes with a company domain for internal member use. The pricing is available upon request.

4. Sketch

Sketch is one of the most popular design tools, used by companies such as Google and Facebook. You can use it both for designing interfaces and prototyping. Designers can develop icons as well as complex vector graphics on a single platform. You can also create interactive prototypes.

Its Symbols feature is especially useful. It allows creators to design UI assets and elements and reuse them. As was the case with Axure, Sketch only offers paid plans, although there is an option for a free trial. It’s also only available for Mac OS.

There are two available plans, each suited to the needs of their target demographic.

The individual plan comes at $99 one-time fee. This is a good deal because you don’t have to worry about tracking your design expenses. It offers access to the Sketch Mac app. You also get a year of free updates, unlimited cloud storage and version history. You can continue using this feature for an annual subscription of $79.  However, the subscription is entirely optional, if you don’t want it.

The team plan costs $9 per contributor per month, or $99 billed annually. You get access to the Mac app for all contributors via Sketch account. It also offers a shared cloud workspace. Collaboration is where Sketch really comes through. The team plan also comes with free cloud access to an unlimited number of viewers. It’s also well suited for team management, as you can add or remove contributors at any time.

5. InVision

InVision is a relative newcomer to the digital design market. Despite that, it has positive reviews across the board. It’s a web-based, cloud hosted digital design platform. You can use it for prototyping and animation, as well as UI design.

Invision has a lot of great features which suit all of your design needs. It’s vector-based, so scaling the project is easy and it retains its quality. InVision offers a large number of free tutorial videos as well as their transcripts.

Importing images from other sources is as simple as drag and drop. It features a feedback and commenting system. You can share files and hold remote presentations as well. InVision is a collaborative tool. Still, there is the option for each contributor to work individually. The feedback and communication system is fast, and it keeps the whole team informed at all times.

InVision is available for many devices and operating systems. This includes Android and Mac OS.

It offers a free plan, which includes almost all of the features listed above. You can only work on one project at a time.

The starter plan is the cheapest paid plan available, at $15 a month. It offers the possibility for up to three projects at the time.

The professional plan comes at $25 per month. With it, you get unlimited prototypes as well as all the features offered by InVision.

The team plan costs $99 monthly. It includes up to five members, as well as unlimited projects.

6. Adobe XD

Adobe XD is one of the most comprehensive UX UI design tools on the market. It is on the market since 2015, and it’s available for the most popular operating systems. It’s a suite of apps that you can use for animation, UI design and software prototyping.

One of its features is the repeat grid useful for designing lists and photo galleries. Voice design is also a useful tool. That means you can use Adobe XD with voice commands, which is a great feature in terms of accessibility. Adobe XD can also open files from Illustrator, Photoshop and Photoshop Sketch.

Responsive resize is also a handy feature. It resizes elements to fit each other automatically.

There is a free starter plan available. It comes with one active shared document and two editors. It comes with access to a limited font set at Adobe Free Fonts. You get 2 GB of cloud storage.

The XD single app costs $9.99 per month. With it you get unlimited shared documents and editors and 100 GB of cloud storage space. It offers access to the full font library at Adobe Free Fonts, as well as the creative cloud library.

Creative cloud plan costs $52.99 a month. In it you get 20+ creative cloud apps, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. It offers unlimited active shared documents and editors. You get 100 GB cloud storage space and access to the full font library at Adobe Fonts Portfolio.

7. Justinmind 

Justinmind is another versatile software prototyping and UI design tool. You can use it for developing web and mobile prototypes. You can create high fidelity wireframes. From them you can get usable prototypes in a matter of minutes. An added convenience is that you can drag and drop wireframes to import them.

It’s also possible to create UI libraries, where you can store all the UI elements for reuse and sharing.

HTML prototypes can be created for virtually any browser. You design UI elements, too. It is also possible to import screen designs from Sketch via a plugin, and update them as necessary.

You can design all kinds of web interactions in styles and layouts that will fit the idea of the project. Use Justinmind to incorporate mobile gestures into the mobile prototype. You can also add many different animations and transitions to the prototypes.

Feedback is easy to give and receive, and all involved in the project can be informed at all times.

Justinmind offers a free trial, after which you can decide on one of the following plans.

The professional plan costs $19 per month. It offers unlimited prototypes for any number of reviewers and developers. It also comes with UI kits and 4000+ UI elements to choose from. It’s simple to export files and documentation. You can provide and view feedback from all the contributors and reviewers. It comes with 300 MB of storage per user.

The enterprise plan costs $49 per user per month. Beside all the features offered in the professional plan, it also comes with many more. UI library synchronisation is one of the things useful for larger teams. Every user gets 600 MB of cloud storage. This plan also features requirements management and user testing integration. It also offers JIRA, TFS/VSTS and DOORS integration.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we hope this list has saved you time and hours of research.

By having all of the research already done for you, we hope that you can check out these tools and make an informed decision based on your project specifications.

Whether you’re a designer or a startup, these tools can help you bring your ideas to life.

Every one of these tools can help you take a project from vision to launch.

Anyway, best of luck on your design projects – and happy designing!

Last updated: June 11, 2020

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