Interactive prototyping for web and mobile apps is very important and has grown significantly over the past decade. There are many prototyping tools to choose from and this provides design agencies, designers, entrepreneurs and businesses with more options. To make life easier we would recommend the following evaluation criteria when selecting the best user interface prototyping tool that uniquely and optimally works for you knowing that there is no right tool(s) that works for everyone.
Our Proposed Evaluation Criteria For Selecting Prototyping Tools:
1. How Easy Is The Tool To Learn?
No design agency or a UI, UX designer wants to spend hours learning how to use a complicated platform. The good news is that there are easy prototyping tools in the market which are straightforward and can be learnt with zero troubles; the shorter the learning-cycle the better. In reality, most designers don’t have the spare time to learn long-winded tools. In our opinion, a good start depends on how easy and intuitive user interface prototyping tool/platform can be grasped.
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2. Does It Come With Support?
Support is good and if it’s quick, that’s a plus point. Problems and difficulties are inevitable, and having someone to contact to get aid and support from is always important and a bonus. The quality and variety of support are also significant. Are there help documents, guides, tutorials and videos on offer and available to back such supports? This is a good question when considering design prototyping tools based on support.
3. How Long Does it Take to Create a Prototype?
The best android prototyping tool and web prototyping tool factor in the actual time it takes when generating a real-life prototype using uploaded image screens and other native or foreign tools. There is no reason why creating a prototype should not be quick and simple with all the choices that are available in the market.
4. Can you Test on Multiple Devices?
Does the tool/platform allow users to create a prototype for one device and test it out on all devices (ranging from the smartphone to tablet and a desktop)? This is a key requirement to determine the user experience across all devices. This allows users to quickly capture how their app looks and feels like across multiple devices before any complex coding can begin. In this way, it is quick and easy to change and improve designs before the app is built.
5. How Intuitive is The Tool?
How easy and well does the tool/platform allows users to simulate end-users intended interaction? This includes transitions, scrolling, gestures, custom transitions, navigation between screens and overall display and appearance.
6. How Easy is it to Share your Prototypes With Your Team and Clients?
The degree of features that is available on the design prototyping tools for sharing your prototypes with your team and clients. Are you limited to the number of people you can share your prototypes with? The rule of thumb in our opinion is to receive and take on board as much feedback as possible form each of prototype in order to refine and improve the final product.
7. How Easy is it to Collaborate on the Prototype?
Does the platform/tool allow teams and collaborators to easily communicate on the design screens? Having the freedom to invite, as many or as little collaborators to each of your prototypes is a plus point. Does it support real-time design collaboration? The ability to have your team and clients discuss, iterate and collaborate in real-time on a prototype upon the design screen is definitely a key feature to look out for.
8. Does It Allow Integration With Other Key Tools?
Teams and companies nowadays use so many other tools (e.g. Dropbox, Jira, Slack, Trello) in their everyday activity. Having a built-in integration with these third parties will help teams and businesses to automate many workflow processes involved. This will help in saving time and ensuring that every tool used represents the final version of the app.
9. Can you Keep Track of All Your Design Versions?
Feedback from your clients and team will surely spark creativity generating new design versions. Each feedback may provide new design version separately and maintaining these versions from every feedback can be very difficult to manage especially when you are working with large projects that deal with more than 50+ design screens.
Does the platform/tool provide a design repository to maintain all versions? A good question when evaluating and selecting a tool/platform. One should consider whether it has a built-in version history control panel that is quick and easy to view their evolving design files?
This is last but by no means least; how much does the tool/platform cost to use? Some providers charge licence fees, yearly subscriptions, rolling month contracts and many more. All pricing plans are different and are all based on the number of users as well as the number of add-on features that they are offering. In our opinion, we feel the best two pricing plans are your rolling month contract. In this contract, you can cancel at any time as you are not signed up for a long contract. Especially when you feel that this particular one is not right for you. We also believe the pricing should increase the number of users/projects. In this way, customers are only paying for what they are using.
At the end of the day, evidence beats opinion. Clients don’t want endless PowerPoint’s and back-and-forth emails, not forgetting to mention the never-ending meetings and specification documents. Instead, they want to see evidence and want to grasp and play with the prototype ‘like a real app’ on their computer or mobile.
By embracing prototyping agencies, businesses will be working smarter and not harder when using a prototyping tool. This will also result in more time to enjoy and consequently happier teams and clients. Everyone will start winning.
An important point to remember is that there are many prototyping tools available in the market and it is important to find the best one that suits you, your team and client’s interest. We hope you have found our evaluation criteria helpful.
Please, share with us your comments and any questions you may have.