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Choosing UX Design Tools

This post is part of a series called A Beginner’s Guide to UX Design.
What is UX Design?
The Five Core Components of UX

There’s a big landscape of design tools to choose from, and choosing the right ones isn’t easy. Here are the things to consider as you go about choosing a toolkit for UX design.

The Product

When selecting the right set of tools, take note of the type of product you’re tackling, the amount of time you have to create a mock-up and who you’ll be collaborating with.

What designers need from great design tools is the ability to allow work to transition well between teams, whether between a team of designers, in front of non-designers for review, or for handoff from design to implementation.

From all the tools available, each one has some overlap in functionality with the others. There are tools that specialize for certain platforms and ones that cover mobile, web and experience. Many UX designers work with a range of tools, to cover the gaps or fit the context for the deliverable they are looking to create.

Other Factors 

Other factors to consider are:

  • Speed (learning ramp for this tool, general speed of output)
  • Fidelity required
  • Sharing (availability of collaboration features)
  • User Testing
  • Support documentation
  • Mobile/Touch support
  • Ability to create complex interactions

One major consideration for choosing a tool is how easily the design can translate in the user research/testing phase and whether a designer can create an environment where design can be validated in front of users. For example, there are tools (such as Marvel and InVision) that allow you to send designs to a device which can facilitate testing for a mobile app.

In the design industry, Adobe’s Creative Cloud Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.) are usually considered the standard and what most designers will be trained in. However, it is not uncommon to use alternative tools nowadays to complete the task needed. You’ll find this is more a matter of personal choice, budget, which best fits the product needs, and allows easy sharing with those you’ll be working with.

New Toys

Something that excites me about the state of design tools today is the influx of new prototyping tools. Without coding experience, there are visual prototyping tools available that mimic interaction (Principle App, Flinto, Quartz Composer, etc.) which is incredibly helpful for showing multi-screen experiences. It’s exciting for designers to build prototypes that can show behavior rather than a static screen. Another recent tool is called Figma, which describes itself as a real time collaborative interface tool. Most designers work in a team environment and having the ability to iterate on the design in real time with other designers would be very useful.

Ultimately, as a UX designer choosing a set of tools, it comes down to your day to day needs, the type of platform you are designing for and how best to share your work (to the teams you collaborate with or to users).  

Coming up..

Next up in our rapid-fire UX series we talk about the core components of UX–see you there!

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