The Best Animation and Prototyping Tools for Designers in 2019

Best Prototyping Tools for Designers in 2019

To make sure that your design not only avoids common mistakes but also works for your target audience, make a prototype.

Prototyping is a great way to showcase your product before embarking on a long development process. It gives you the opportunity to make changes prior to development. It also saves you significant time and money. As IDEO execs Tom and David Kelley famously said, “If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a prototype is worth 1,000 meetings.”

Getting your hands on the right prototyping tools is key to helping you collaborate with your customers and better explain your ideas. The most popular and useful design tools for prototyping and animation include:

  • Adobe XD
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Principle
  • InVision Studio
  • Framer X

Below, we break down some of the pros and cons of each program. We also help you consider whether each program may be a fit for your design project prototype.

Adobe Experience Design (Adobe XD)

The most obvious advantage of Adobe XD: It’s free. And it runs on platforms such as OS X, Windows, Android, and iOS. So you can prototype for any platform.

With Adobe XD, you can:

  • Create wireframes, screen layouts, and an animated prototype of your design.
  • Switch from design to prototyping with one click, right in the app.
  • Add interactions and transitions.
  • Share the link to the animated prototype with teammates and stakeholders so that they can test the feel of the design.
  • Let clients leave comments on the prototype and view designs on actual devices.

Note: If you need something complicated from your animations — and you have the whole Adobe Creative Cloud package — you can export your project from XD to After Effects.

Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects is a viable choice for a non-interactive demo. While it’s not a tool tailored precisely to prototyping, it’s excellent for animations.

After Effects is complicated software to work with, so you’ll need some time to figure out it. There are much easier tools available for prototyping. But if you have something “outside the box” in mind, After Effects can be a good choice.  

With Adobe After Effects, you can make a great animation for your app. You can also convert it into a JSON file with this extension in a few clicks.

Principle

Principle is built for and runs only on OS X. It specializes in interactions with Sketch. Principle is good for showcasing multi-screen app interactions and micro-interactions.

Principle, however, lacks tools for making designs from scratch. That’s why it’s recommended that you make your designs in Sketch and import them into Principle.

InVision Studio

InVision Studio is made by a growing, developing company focused on ongoing innovation. They work on adding new features constantly, and they’re strongly focused on helping designers to create prototypes more easily and efficiently.

InVision is compatible with Sketch. This means you can import your entire Sketch project — or only some of its layers — into InVision and continue to work on your screen design.

With InVision, you can:

  • Make prototypes for Android, iOS, or web.
  • Organize design components into a status workflow using InVision’s great project management page feature.
  • Use any operating system, as InVision is a web application that only requires an internet connection to work.

Framer X

Framer X is a good combination of innovations from previous design apps. If you’ve used some of those before, it’ll be easy to quickly jump between apps. Framer X has tools to design scroll link and page interactions, and even 3D effects.

Till mid-2017, Framer was divided in two parts: code mode and design mode. This meant the visual part was in one and the code was in another. Nowadays, they’ve made a shift to design mode.

Framer X is where React meets design. This means that you can write real React code, using all its capabilities to make components not only in code, but also in design. These React components can be created from code or design.

To facilitate this, Framer X now has one component, canvas, that’s synchronized across design and code. With canvas, you can turn basic HTML/CSS or advanced React components into visual elements. It uses a simple syntax that helps you build anything you can imagine. You can import design elements from the canvas into code components. You can use code to add logic and data, and then go back to the canvas to tweak alignment and style. Overall, this means prototyping has become easier for designers who can’t code.

Framer X is the best prototyping tool if you are a developer or designer with code knowledge who wants to break some of the barriers to creating great designs.

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