Prototyping Mobile Apps -­ Benefits And Best Design Tools

Prototyping Mobile Apps -­ Benefits And Best Design Tools

A- Design is the silent ambassador of your brand

What is a design? The artistic elements such as shape, color or balance? Or the impact it has on the sense organs of the human body? Or the eventual impact on our heart(read brain) from the information received by our five senses?

A good design, if completed carefully, has the potential to increase the amount of trust which visitors have in your mobile apps and hence in your mobility business. Designs speak a lot about your mobile apps. It can drive or lose conversions.

Good user interface design decides a lot whether your website or app is a success or a failure. Great user interface design must have a perfect balance of amazing looks and interactivity with ease of use and simple navigation. Whether it is for a website or for a piece of software, prototyping offers a great way to check what looks great and fits to the purpose. Hence, a prototype gives you an insight into the functionality of your design and any changes which are required to make your work pleasure to use.

It does not matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice
—Steve Krug

Let’s discuss and know some prototyping tools for mobile app designs. Certainly one cannot decide which are the best mobile app prototyping tools. Each has their own pros and cons. But before digging more into these mobile app prototyping tools for app designs, we must know some parameters on which the discussion of differentiation can be carried forward.

B- Parameters of Differentiation

Before making the right choice of mobile app prototyping tools, it is imperative to know what exactly you are looking for in the prototyping process. Here we go:

1. Usability: Are you looking for prototyping tools for websites, mobile apps, desktop apps, or all of the these?

2. Accuracy: How accurate you want your prototypes to be? The mock-ups which exhibit the app layout accurately matches with the actual design or they need something that supports more details and complex interactions.

3. Professional Skill Requisite: While you are researching on various tools, it is important to know how long will it take for you to learn the tool? Are you an expert or a newbie in this field? How much time will it take for you to create prototype once you are through with the learning process?

4. Collaboration and Sharing: A good mobile app prototyping tool must have collaborative features which are the ability to share your prototype with others or at work hence can work in collaboration. Collaboration is a key when design comes into picture.

5. Pricing: What’s your budget for design tools?

C- Let’s Dig Inside

C1: InVision

  • Know the basics: InVision is a web-based best mobile app prototyping tool which allows designers to create interactive mockups for the web and mobile projects. It has a wide array of valuable tools to facilitate your workflow which includes preview mode, comments, version control, and file syncing. InVision also offers a wide variety of transition animations and mobile gestures like swiping, tapping etc.
  • Precision: InVision has the ability to create hover states for any design element. As you can add advanced interactivity such as drop-down menus and hover states for button, InVision allows you to design a prototype quiet close to your final product.
  • Sharing and Collaboration: Collaboration is a great asset in InVision. Clients, teammates or anyone can leave location-specific comments and threads on the shared mock-up. This ensures that changes are implemented as desired. Additionally, InVision’s LiveShare feature helps in real-time screen share which includes sketching capability, collaborator-specific mouse, and chat.
  • Usability and Application: The best prototyping formats are Web and Mobile (Android and iOS). The tool offers highly collaborative projects which include clients and multiple team members.
  • Pricing: InVision pricing plans varies from project to project. This ranges from free trials to $25 per month for unlimited.
  • Skill Requirement: InVision takes pride in making prototyping accessible for everyone. The brand itself says, “Design Better. Faster. Together”. Hence, a little or no knowledge is sufficient to start with. But for trivial projects proficient designers must be hired.

C2: Balsamiq Mockups

  • Know the basics: Balsamiq Mockups is much like a sketching on a whiteboard with the computer as a medium. It is a rapid wireframe tool that speeds up wireframing digitally.
  • Collaboration and Sharing: Balsamiq offers you to collaborate smoothly. It is a kind of ‘in-between tool’ for Product Managers, designers and developers thus adapt to the way ‘you’ work.
  • Learning Balsamiq: The freehand sketches and handwritten designs are just unique and the extensive library of UI elements is really very helpful for learning Balsamiq. You need not be a professional designer to learn such design prototyping tool. Tool can be used as a quick wireframe tool.
  • Pricing: Well Balsamiq single user license is $89 and multi-user license starts with $178 for two users.
  • Usability: Balsamiq Mockups are a great prototyping tool for mobile apps (iOS, Android) and websites.
  • Precision: With a wide variety of graphic tools including photo manipulation , graphics etc. you can fine tune things like fonts, shadows, colors, and borders.

C3: JustInMind

  • Knowing the Basics: Created in 2008, JustInMind offers the functionality to create the web and mobile wireframes within the platform itself. Designers just have to select the design elements they want to include and then can create them in their own artboard.
  • Pricing: JustInMind offers trial versions to its users. The Pro and Enterprise packs are available at various prices like $19 and $49 respectively.
  • Usability: JustInMind offers best design solution to archetype rich-featured mobile apps, websites, enterprise applications, web products and much more. The ideal prototyping formats which it accepts are Web and mobile (Android, Windows, Blackberry, and iOS)
  • Sharing and Collaboration: JustInMind offer within-browser sharing capabilities in the free plan. But collaboration among the team is only possible with paid plans. JustInMind Enterprise allows secured integration and controls prototyping across business analysis, product management, design and development teams.
  • Proficiency For JustInMind: JustInMind might upset the beginner prototypers, but there are many educational resources which help you get started if you are stuck. The tutorials are packed with videos and hence they offer complete support for specific issues.
  • Precision: To bring accuracy in the prototype design and get it almost as same as that of the original one, JustInMind allows you to add gestures, transitions, and web interfaces. There are many widget packs available for download which offers you extensive library.

Mobile App UI Design

D: Conclusion

Though above listed mobile app prototyping tools will make you design faster and easier, but there are many tools which are not listed here but are among the list of best mobile prototyping tools. They are, UXPIN, Mockingbird, Mockplus and much more. We may have missed out a few other renowned names. Please add your comments as discussion.

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Rachit Agarwal

Rachit Agarwal

Director and Co-Founder at Algoworks Technologies
Rachit is leading the mobility business development function, mobility strategy and consulting practice at Algoworks. He is an expert of all mobile technologies and has experience in managing teams involved in the development of custom iPhone/iPad/Android apps.
Rachit Agarwal

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