Designer Duncan Watts delves into his designer's toolkit (rather than designer toolkit) and reviews the tools, apps and software he's currently using for prototyping. Read on if you want a quick review of the tools that could make your life a little easier. 

Over to Dunc...

It's been a while since my last edition of 'Irregular Designer's Toolkit' - I guess it's just as well I didn't title that one 'Regular Designer's ToolKit'! 

This time, I thought it would be helpful to expand on the software we use for prototyping, explaining the advantages of the main products that we use.   

There are lots of tools available for prototyping websites and mobile applications; we mainly use Axure for full prototypes but we're also using inVision for less complex prototypes.

Axure

As I said before, we mainly use Axure. It allows us to show how the site will work at several sizes relatively quickly. Axure also lets us add interactions and set up master pages, as well as having a handy widget library with handy readymade assets.

All these features mean you have a fairly steep learning curve, especially for the more complex interactions and animations. However there are great learning resources on the website and a huge Axure community to help. 

On their site you can download a 30 day free trial and have a go yourself.

We keep most of our Axure prototypes as clean as possible to allow users to concentrate on the journey rather than allowing aesthetics to influence their decisions. Once you start to add colour and styling the decisions become subjective rather than about the journey.

I started my design life as a print designer so have a need to present designs in as finished and crafted state as possible, but when it comes to prototyping I definitely think less is more.


InVision

Given everything I've said above... sometimes, less complex and more visual prototypes are called for. In this instance we use InVision.

You can simply upload your visuals and add hotspots to turn them into interactive prototypes.

You can also sync your projects through Google Drive and Dropbox so your prototype updates when you save your source files, which is great! And saves re-linking etc every time.

It gets even better; InVision is free for one prototype, so you can have a play and see how you get on with it.

Another plus, the interface is very intuitive and it is easy to add simple animations and transitions. We also find InVision great for presenting UX reviews as you can add comments and share them very easily.

It is worth signing up for the InVision newsletter. They're very design-driven and are full of great inspiration and ideas.


Adobe Experience Design

Adobe experience design (formerly project comet) is Adobe's UX tool. It's new to me but it seems to have some really nice features and works very well with Illustrator and Photoshop.

It is a lot less complex than Axure, and after going through the introduction and having a play, it seems very intuitive, especially as I spend most of my working life using other Adobe products.

You can find out more on their website


UX tools

My plan over the next few months is to delve into this, and a few other tools. I'm especially interested in Sketch and UXpin. I'll report back in my next Irregular guide, but by its very nature, I am not sure when that will be! In the meantime there's some homework below. 

I've pulled together a list of UX tools, the best thing to do is get hands on them and see what works for you.


If Dunc's article has left you inspired to nail your UX, but you're not quite sure where to start, get in touch, we can help! 

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