It’s common sense to look for the best tool if you want to get something done right, but even the best of tools may not be enough if you don’t adhere to best practices. Several of the very best prototyping tools on the market are described below, along with three best practices you are strongly advised to follow.
The use of user flows, collaborative techniques, and testing, when combined with the right tools, will make your project run smoothly and rapidly, and result in a much more favorable outcome.
Three Practices You Don’t want to Neglect
Testing and collaboration are not only keys to success, but they are absolutely necessary. User flows are equally important. If you don’t know where you are going, you are not apt to get far.
- Test the Prototype –One of the main reasons for prototyping, and one of its primary benefits, is that it is an iterative approach that encourages continuous testing. When you test early and often, you will catch errors that could otherwise creep into the final design and code, and consequently be much more expensive to deal with. Testing not only shows what works and what doesn’t, but it also indicate where improvements can be made.
- Collaborate – A lack of collaboration can spell doom for any project that requires the services of a team of individuals to get the work done. Fortunately, the tools discussed here make collaboration an easy task, and a task that can often be done in real time. Make the exchange of information, including suggestions and feedback, routine. Collaboration is a team building activity, and it pays dividends.
- User Flows – User flows depict what a website or app is all about, from the business standpoint of the owner, to the user’s experience. User flows tell you what you should be doing as you build your prototype, and how you should be doing it; yet these roadmaps are all too often neglected or misunderstood. Sketch out your user flows before you do anything else.
Five of the Best Prototyping Tools on the Market Today
At least one of these tools should precisely fit your needs. Several of them may in fact match your needs quite well. All have their individual strengths and/or specialties, but each is worth looking into and considering determining the one that will work best for you.
One of the key features of Proto.io is its ability to create a high-fidelity mobile app prototype that will be difficult to distinguish from the real thing. Not every prototyping tool can make that claim. In addition, you will be able to progress from a very basic, low-fidelity prototype, to one that fully emulates the user experience, and do so in a short time. This is due in part to this tool’s ability to test any stage of a prototype on a real device. In the final stages, your mockup will be able to faithfully simulate the transitions and gestures that mobile users have become accustomed to.
Large companies, which make up a part of Proto.io’s huge user base, use this tool to build and test prototypes before committing resources to new design projects. What works for them will work for you as well. As you build your mockup, while following best practices, you will always be in a position to know if you are on the right track.
Pidoco is an excellent choice for use on projects where having a strong collaborative environment in place is essential to success. This is in fact one of this tool’s strongest points. It allows a distributed group of designers and developers to work together, share information and feedback, and manipulate a mockup’s design in real time. Changes can be made rapidly, since Pidoco maintains a version history.
This tool fosters a strong collaborative environment, and makes following this particular best practice really easy. In addition, designers can create their own templates to speed up the design process. Testing is easily done at any stage in the mockup process, and Pidoco makes it a simple task for real-life users to participate in usability testing, whether on desktop or mobile devices.
Visit the website, view the video, and you will come away with an excellent understanding of how delightfully easy this highly-recommended tool will be to work with.
InVision brings a ton of powerful, useful features to the table. Collaboration and feedback support are two of its strengths, and a new and improved design feedback mechanism is currently in the works. One of the more notable feedback features lies in the ability to tie feedback and comments to a specific point on a mockup. These comments, as well as other pertinent information are then available for future reference. Feedback is tracked, and a version history of past iterations is maintained and available to all.
InVision’s presentation tool LiveShare allows team members to collaborate and exchange design information in real time. It’s a mighty tool for individual designers and small teams, but it’s perhaps most impressive when put to work as a seamless collaboration tool for widely dispersed teams. It’s no wonder they claim to be the world’s leading prototyping, design collaboration, and workflow platform—they may very well be.
HotGloo means super easy protoyping for everyone involved in digital projets. Wireframe you ideas, add interactions to test click paths or walk throughs. Getting starterd is super easy thanks to a huge UI library and readymade components.
You can even upload your own to use them within the HotGloo editor. Create prototypes toegther with your team in real time and save a lot of time. Wheter you are a bignner or an expert - this is an excellent tool to work with. Get started with a worry free - 15day free trial.
PowerMockup is somewhat of a specialty item. It is especially designed for use by PowerPoint users, and it is in fact a Microsoft PowerPoint plugin. A key advantage of this plugin lies in the ability to select shapes and icons from the large (800+ UI elements and icons) PowerPoint library and use them to build your mockup. New additions are constantly being introduced in this library, and you can store your own design elements there as well. Just use drag and drop to add elements to a PowerPoint slide. No coding is necessary. Sign up for a free trial.
Creating Prototypes just got Easier
If you pick the right tool, and follow best practices, your prototyping efforts should become easier and provide superior results, and you will more than likely enjoy the process. If collaboration, or the lack of it, has been a problem before, the tools described here will provide the solution you have been looking for. As far as the prototypes themselves are concerned, the results, for each of these tools, will speak for themselves.
Visit the websites. View videos or take advantage of free trials before you choose. Once you’ve made your selection, collaborate, test early and often, make full use of user flows, and follow best practices. That’s all there is to it.