7 UX UI Design Tools We Have Known and Loved (or Hated)
UX UI design tools continue to become increasingly plentiful as the need for positive user experiences explodes across all industries. These tools rely on visual communication to enhance a product or service.
The desire for a better user experience is not the result of modern society, in fact it can even be traced back to 4000 BC with the development of the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, the art of arranging surrounding elements optimally through colours, layout, and other aesthetic elements. Feng Shui is still very much considered when it comes to setting up an environment, and the digital world demands the same treatment.
Many modern-day design trends can be attributed to the creation of visual campaigns for billboards, TV commercials, print ads, etc. These campaigns would eventually create a need for design tools like Adobe or Illustrator, which still remain relevant to this date.
Over the years, many other UX UI design tools have blessed designers with amazing flexibility and the capability to develop great visual elements. In this blog, we’ve listed seven notable UX UI design tools according to the DOOR3 design team and the capability of each.
UX UI Design Tools
1. Early Adobe Design Tools (Photoshop+Illustrator+Indesign)
Adobe’s dive into the UX UI world started in 1987 with the release of Photoshop and Illustrator. Later, with the introduction of InDesign, Adobe offered a complete package of UX UI design tools, with each having its own specialities.
Designed to work with pixel-based images for web applications and print, Photoshop helps create the perfect images through every imperfection. From exposure, altering colours, removal of unwanted objects, or color balancing in the images, you can do just about everything on Photoshop.
When it comes to logo creation, Illustrator is a go-to tool. It allows designers to create precise vector graphics and sharp icons of any size for different artwork and all types of illustrations. Regardless of if you’re building infographics, business cards, flyers, etc., they can be built through Illustrator and given enticing typography.
A print design tool that works wonders for publishing ventures. Multipage documents like books, magazines, and catalogs become easier to design as this tool has all typesetting features that help format pages precisely.
Since their launch, all three Adobe tools get regularly updated, which is the reason why they are still highly relevant. Some of the favourite updates of Adobe tools shared by the DOOR3 design team are:
The layers feature added in 1995 to Photoshop 3.0 allows the stacking of images without mixing their pixels.
The blend feature in Illustrator allows smooth transitions between objects and colours.
2. Adobe XD
Adobe XD is mentioned separately because of its sheer nuance and ever-growing popularity. Launched in 2016 (not even a decade old), XD has enhanced how UI designers execute product prototyping. Extensive workflows, animated elements, and dynamic mockups can be created with this single tool.
XD also goes well with the Adobe creative suite and complements Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. The integration between these four Adobe UX UI tools is seamless and creates a mini ecosystem of everything related to design. For people who are buying the creative suite, the smooth integration works amazingly well.
Adobe XD still gets updated weekly, so there is a lot more life left in this software.
Sketch is one of the UX UI design tools every designer uses when getting started. This is because of Sketch’s slick interface, which makes it easier for beginners to get started. Released in 2010, Sketch has progressed from being a purely visual design tool to now a UX UI design tool with prototyping and collaborative features.
Though Sketch is only available for macOS, it makes up for its lack of platforms by allowing smooth integrations with many third-party plugins. Some standout features of Sketch are:
Symbols: These are layers that can be reused repeatedly—a little change on one artboard containing a symbol results in updating the symbol on all the boards. This time saving feature helps designers get tedious jobs done quicker.
Grids, layout, and Guides: All these features work together to keep the designs symmetrical.*
If you are looking for versatile UX UI design tools, then InVision should be on your list. This tool single-handedly covers the creation of the user journey to collaborations on wireframes and prototypes, followed by final design handoffs. InVision is a rare tool where you can find everything you need to innovate, design, and deliver the product efficiently.
The collaboration feature allows designers to receive clients’ feedback at every step and revise the product immediately. It saves time and helps deliver the final designs closer to what the clients want. InVision also allows the creation of interactive prototypes, which can automatically adjust according to the device being used.
With a drag-and-drop system to create prototypes, Justinmind is a wireframing tool that showcases functionality at its best. Though it can be confusing for beginners, with a little practice, anyone can create responsive prototypes with this tool’s help.
Justinmind is one of the best UX UI design tools, as it makes it possible to create highly interactive wireframes that can even stimulate micro-interactions. The developer’s handoff feature allows developers to view the specifications and technical details, making collaboration easier. The software is fully integrated with user testing tools such as Hotjar and Crazyegg for creating better designs through real-time data.
Balsamiq is for designers looking for a simple yet impactful prototyping tool. Sometimes when you have too many options for wireframing, it is easy to get distracted and create something of high effort but low output. Balsamiq makes it easier for UX designers to focus purely on the functionality of the product design and present it through a minimalistic wireframe.
With a great amount of icons and tools to create quick mockups, Balsamiq is a great tool for agencies that are just getting started. At DOOR3, Balsamiq is infamous for its simple design and easy-to-understand interface, so much so that our development and engineering teams also utilize it.
There is one essential point that Balsamiq doesn’t capitalize on unfortunately. Due to Balsamiq’s plain approach to wireframe designs, it becomes hard for clients to fully project their ideas. A wireframe must help the client visualize what they want the final product to look like and share their insights. Balsamiq more often than not fails to achieve this.
Often seen as a competitor to Sketch, Figma has everything Sketch has and a little more. Unlike Sketch, which is limited to macOS, Figma is available for all platforms, increasing its viability and collaborative prowess. It allows seamless team collaborations and showcases real-time active members on a project.
Figma is an end-to-end designing tool that stays involved in a project from the early designs to the final sign-offs.
UX UI design tools are always evolving for the better, so it is crucial to keep a close eye on the latest versions. There is no shortage of design tools in the marketplace, leaving many opportunities to find what suits you best. You can go for tools focused on a single goal, like Balsamiq, or the ones that provide full support, like Sketch and Figma. Regardless of what tools you choose, DOOR3 is ready to help guide you through your next UX project. Reach out to us here to learn more.
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