Making a Prototype: Best Tools to Choose From

Why build prototypes?

  • Prototyping helps to explore and try out functionality or/and design ideas aiming to increase innovation, creativity, and attractiveness of the product;
  • Prototype development validates design and functionality requirements;
  • It reduces risks and costs for developing poor designs and extra functionality;
  • Coding rework is being kept to a minimum.

What are the stages of a typical prototype development process?

How to choose a tool for prototype development?

  • How much time do I have for prototype development? How much time are you ready to spend on building the preliminary model of your idea? The amount of time required for a prototype development is strongly influenced by the ease of use and learnability of the tool itself. Of course, in this vision the quicker the better.
  • Will I have a chance to simulate well the intended interactivity of the prototype with the help of the tool? It means that you have to check whether the tool you are going to give your preference to able to simulate pages scrolling, transitions, etc.
  • Does the sharing/collaboration opportunity meet your requirements? Before choosing the tool for prototype development, make sure it provides sharing options or the opportunity to work on the prototype in collaboration with other people.
  • What is the level of usability testing features? Examine carefully the level of usability testing features the tool provides. You should be able to conduct such testing with the prototype in the future.
  • Which support level has the tool? Check if there are enough libraries, tutorials, materials and help documentation, templates, and widgets to obtain support and help.
  • Is it possible to add animated behaviors? The ability to add animations to screen transitions and individual elements within a screen is an advantage.
  • Can I test the prototype on other devices? If the tool provides good and efficient options for testing the prototype on different devices, you’d better prefer this tool to the rest of them.

Which prototype development tools exist?

  • if you want your prototype to be developed from scratch, you can use proto.io, Axure, Easel, Justinmind, or Fluid. These tools allow to create elements and details from scratch to add some interactivity and actions to each of the element;
  • if you are striving for a fast release of the prototype, such tools as Flinto or InVision will help you best. Both of the tools being the fastest ones in the class don’t have some of the interactive functionality the rest of the tools boast. You have to choose between speed and interactivity, though;
  • in case you have no experience in working with prototype development tools, you should better resort to the easy-in-use variants. Luckily, there are dozens of such tools for the first-timers: Flinto, InVision and Solidify provide fast operability and limited functionality, while JustInMind and Fluid are more robust and offer more support;
  • in case you require a prototype with many dynamic details and much content including a high level of interactivity between these elements, you are recommended to use Axure or JustInMind. The easel can be also used due to easy HTML/CSS generation, etc.

What are the pros and cons of the most popular tools?

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