When presented with a design challenge, the time from solution ideation to reality often depends on how many iterations are involved. From wireframing to asset creation, technology can help streamline each phase, meaning you can quickly nail down your ideas for testing and validation. There are huge range of tools to choose from, so to narrow it down we’re focusing on what to use when designing mobile apps.
We’ve rounded up some of our top tools that deserve a high five.
Let’s kick off with a widely used favourite, InvisionApp. This free prototyping, collaboration and workflow app is used and praised by companies like Twitter, Netflix, Uber, Vice, MailChimp, GoPro, Nike etc. InvisionApp allows you to upload your design files and add animations, gestures, and transitions to create into high-fidelity, clickable, interactive prototypes - in minutes.
Clients and team members can easily access, review and comment directly on projects in the app. The ease of communication and feedback within the app makes collaboration efficient. InvisionApp makes #designlife easier for everyone, integrating with Slack, Trello, GitHub and more. There quite a few different plan prices according to your team size, but the free version gives you basically all the features - you’re just limited to one project.
Mockplus is a complete rapid-prototyping tool for desktop and it’s growing in popularity. It allows you to create mockups for a selection of devices, like Android, iPhone 5, 6, 6 Plus and more. The interface is clean and easy to use, designed for speed and simplicity. Mockplus comes with pre-built components and icons, ready to be dragged and dropped into your project.
There are a wide variety of interactions at your fingertips, also ready for drag-and-drop into your design. Test by publishing online or export to images. The option to publish to HTML is also coming soon for Mockplus. One more standout feature is the automatic backup, which means no more disappearing work. Phew. The free version lacks some features, but, don’t stress - there are student and teacher offers if Pro blows out your budget.
Another awesome prototyping tool is Marvel, used for designing, prototyping and collaborating. Marvel is browser-based, which is cool for bypassing the program download and jumping into projects. There’s a beefed up security option to password-protect projects, which is important when working straight out of the browser. The interface is beautiful, with use of colour and icons helping to simplify the learning curve.
Marvel provides a simple design tool called Canvas to create assets, and supports upload of Photoshop files, various image formats and third-party integration with Google Drive, Dropbox or Sketch. Click-and-drag ‘hotspots’ to add transitions and gestures, which are interactive for review and testing. Clients and teams can leave feedback without having to sign up, which makes collaborating simple and seamless. Overall a great tool - the pricing options includes a free version, but with limited features.
Pen On Paper, or POP, is an iOS and Android prototyping application for quickly turning your IRL sketches into digital, working prototypes. Draw your wireframes by hand, take pictures and then link them together with POP (all on your phone). If the confines of your phone screen are too limited, upload the mockups from mobile and edit them on your desktop.
POP allows collaborators to edit a single project, across multiple devices at the same time, with real-time updates. It also offers project duplication, good for letting creativity flow in every direction. There are frequently-used transitions and gestures for testing your app, and lots of ways to share your work - URL, email, SMS and social media. This one isn’t just for designers - it’s for anyone with big ideas. The free version offers all the features, with limited members and projects.
Flinto allows you to easily mockup app prototypes with a simple .png file format drop. Drop files into each app screen, add interactions and link it to anyone for review. Flinto is available as a web-based Lite version or a beefed up version for Mac, which gives you a greater range of customised features. For example, Lite-version screen interactions are limited to taps, whereas the Mac version allows you to choose from taps, or direct-manipulation swipe gestures to activate links. The Mac version also supports Sketch import (a powerful digital design app).
Another useful Flinto feature is the testing - prototype recipients on a smartphone or tablet can open the link as an app to really see how it looks and feels to use. Flinto Lite and the Mac version have free trials, and are available for purchase after.